Serenoa Repens

Written by Dr. Mary

What is Serenoa Repens?

Serenoa repens is commonly known as Saw Palmetto which grow in sandy coastal land. It belongs to the genus serenoa and which is also the sole species of its genus. This plant is endemic in the southeast United States such as Georgia, Mississippi and Florida and in the Gulf Coast and Atlantic plains.


Serenoa Repens Plant

Serenoa repens or saw palmetto has a long span of life and they grow as tall as 2-4m. The leaves are like a fan although not rounded at the end. The edges of the leaves have sharp teeth or spine where its name was derived. The leaves can cause cut or scratch that it is advised to put on protection when working on saw palmetto. This plant has two colors depending on its location. It is usually light green when in inland and silvery-white when in the coastal area. This plant is also regarded as herbal. The trunk of this plant is sprawling.

Serenoa Repens  Plant

Picture 1 : Serenoa Repens Plant

Serenoa Repens Fruit

The fruits of serenoa repens are highly enriched with fatty acids and phytosterols. The fruit is described as large and reddish-black in color and is drupe type of fruit. The fruit extract of saw palmetto has been a subject of intensive research due to its property of treating symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. The fruit extract is also commonly used for alternative medicine known to remedy or help treat baldness, polycystic ovarian syndrome and other condition of hyperandrogen type.

Serenoa Repens  Fruit  Extract

Picture 2 : Serenoa Repens Fruit

Serenoa Repens Uses and Health Benefits

Saw palmetto historically has been used as tonic by Americans and Mayans while the Seminoles used the fruit as expectorant and antiseptic.

The use of saw palmetto extract has been tested to human and animals although the effectiveness and safety has yet to be studied further and have not always been proven. The use of this extract should be evaluated carefully when used in serious health condition.

Hair Loss or Baldness

It has been said that saw palmetto has the ability to block some effects of testosterone and therefore reducing the male pattern hair loss.

Surgery Preparation

Although more study is needed, saw palmetto extract is said to be effective in reducing bleeding after surgery and may lessen the use of catheter. It is said to be effective in the use of prostate surgery.

Prostatitis or Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome

Long term improvement has not been appreciated with the use of saw palmetto for patient suffering from prostatitis chronic pelvic pain syndrome although the extract has been used to some patient. Further assessment is needed to evaluate the long term effectiveness.

Prostate Cancer

No scientific evidence has been given to recommend use of saw palmetto although it is incorporated with 7 other herbs in a certain drug for use as treatment for prostate cancer. The certain drug is said to contain anticoagulant chemical warfarin and may result to bleeding.

Saw palmetto extract has also use based on tradition and theory. These uses have not been tested to humans and animals thoroughly and have not been proven effective and safe for use.

  • Asthma
  • Acne
  • Enhancement of athlete performance
  • Bacterial infection
  • High blood pressure
  • Indigestion
  • Impotence
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Menstrual pain
  • Enhances sexual vigor
  • Increase sperm production
  • Uterine and vaginal disorders
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Stimulates immunity
  • Migraine
  • Sedation
  • Diuretic

Serenoa Repens Side Effects

Severe side effects of serenoa repens are few and has not been reported and published in scientific literature although side effects is more in the stomach and intestines.

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach upset

There are also reports of other side effects with the use of saw palmetto although the role of saw palmetto is not clearly identified.

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Chest pain
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Jaundice
  • Ulcers
  • Liver damage
  • High blood pressure

It has also been said that saw palmetto use in men affected body’s response to sexual hormones. Change in sexual drive has been reported. Men using saw palmetto reported incidence of difficulty in attaining erection and testicular discomfort. Women have breast tenderness or enlargement with the use of saw palmetto.

Saw palmetto is not highly suggested for use in pregnant women due to high alcohol content in tinctures.

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