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Common Name: Saw Palmetto | Scientific Name: Serenoa Repens

Family Name: Palmae


Saw palmetto is one cool plant. It seems to provide the male body with the hormones that go missing as we age. In addition, for those that want to put on muscle, that would otherwise have a hard time doing so, saw palmetto is of great use. Whether hormone drop off is your problem, or you want to bulk up, this is a plant to get to know.


Fact Sheet
Chapter from “Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life” by Dr. Douglas Schar
Notes from the Eclectic Physicians

Fact Sheet

Part Used: berry

Remember This: Male Tonic and Flesh Builder

Reasonable Uses: In men: lack of libido, poor sexual performance, lack of staying power, and poor erections in men, benign prostatic hypertrophy(BPH), prostate problems, prostatitis, generally purposes: weight loss, loss of vitality, muscle wasting, wasting conditions such as aids and cancer, to increase muscle mass, protect joints and muscles from damage due to overused.

History and Traditional Uses
Different palm trees and different parts of these palm trees are used globally to boost vitality. The Arabians use the date palm, the Africans use the oil palm seed, the Vietnamese use palm sugar, and the North Americans use the berries of the saw palmetto. The tribes that knew saw palmetto best used it increase manliness and to boost the health of those suffering from serious illness. It was seen as vitality in a berry long before colonials appeared in North America. Palm trees, one of the most ancient life forms, seem to contain powerfully strengthening compounds.

Doctors in the last century noticed that the prostate problems of aging men were remedied by its use. It seemed to shrink a swollen prostate gland which was causing all kinds of problems with the waterworks. They also noted that people wasting away regained weight and muscle mass when saw palmetto was used.

Scientific Back Up
Contemporary research has revealed that saw palmetto berries contain compounds which explain their traditional uses. Here are a few examples. Today AIDS patients are given steroids to regain the muscle mass they have lost in the course of their disease. Steroids build them up. The doctors of the last century did the same thing with their patients, but in this case, they used saw palmetto. Research has revealed saw palmetto berries are rich in steroid like substances.

The prostate enlargement experienced by aging men is the result of diminishing testosterone levels. Research has revealed that saw palmetto increases the available testosterone thereby shinking the prostate. Clinical trials have established saw palmetto to be an effective alternative to prostate reducing surgery! Men using saw palmetto also experience an increase in sex drive and ability to perform sexually.

Herbalists Use It To…
Beef up the ailing
When people with life threatening illnesses start loosing weight it can be a bad sign. Herbalists recommend these patients use saw palmetto to get their weight up! Its tonic effect boosts general well being at the same time.Keep muscles and joints strong and healthy

Native American life was physical. These hardy souls used saw palmetto to keep joints healthy and muscles strong. Indeed, body builders use it today to increase muscle mass! Regular exercise, though good for the heart, can damage the joints and muscles. Practitioners recommend using saw palmetto to reduce the damaging effects of regular exercise.

Keep Mr. Knife away from private parts
Anyone who has had prostate surgery will tell you that if it can be avoided, it should be avoided! Herbalists find that many cases of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy can be remedied by the regular and long term use of Saw Palmetto. In theory it must be used long term to get the prostate to shrink, but many patients notice an improvement in their symptoms within six weeks of starting the remedy. It must be used long term as the aging process, which causes BPH, does not stop!

Put the youth back in youthful
The demands of building a career often strip a young man of his sexual desire. Today we know that stress reduces male hormone levels which explain this loss of desire. Herbalists find that Saw Palmetto increases sex drive and the ability to perform in young men suffering from job stress. After several weeks of use the urge to get busy returns. Along these same lines, Saw palmetto can help married men keep up with the demands of baby making in the year 2000. Sometimes busy jobs and mandatory copulation can be helped with daily Saw Palmetto.

Shopping Tips
Avoid products containing herbal medicines.WarningsAnyone suffering from an enlarged prostate needs to have prostate cancer ruled out before they start using saw palmetto. In cases of prostate cancer, saw palmetto should only be used with the advice of a health care practitioner.

Ginseng(Panax ginseng)

Chapter from “Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life” by Dr. Douglas Schar

The berry of the saw palmetto, practically unknown in medicine before 1879, came rapidly into conspicuity, both in pharmacy and in medicine, after that date. It had been observed by the settlers of the South that animals feeding on the matured fruit “grew very sleek and fat,” a fact that was ascribed to the therapeutic qualities of the berries, reasoning from which they prepared a decoction of the fruit for domestic medication.

The saw palmetto is one of least known tonic plants, and one of newest on the plate. The story behind its discovery is so interesting that I decided it has to be included. You may have seen the palmettos or scrub palms of the southern states, they rarely amount to much in the size department, not one of your stately palms. To the early colonials they were quite a pain in the butt, an invasive weed with nasty stickers on them. The palm grows in great impenetrable forests that were less than pleasant to clear.

Saw palmetto grows best along the southeastern coast of the U.S. It is a decumbent-stemmed palm forming a palmetto scrub for hundreds of miles along the coastline from Georgia to Florida . The fan-shaped glaucous leaves are so dense that it is impossible for human beings to pass through it. The plant grows about a foot high and leaves form a large crown. The panicles containing the fruit often weigh as much as nine pounds.

OK, here’s the background on the palmetto. The colonials cleared the palmetto forests to create pasture and corrals. They noticed that the barnyard animals leaned over the fences at the berries of this palm with great relish. They also noticed that the animals within weeks of eating the fruit became sleek and fat, much healthier they had been before eating the black fruit. Before you know it, they were purposefully feeding the animals the fruits, and in time, they decided the berries might be able to do the same for themselves. And it did.

Many times people ask me how on earth did people ever learn what plants were good for what condition? It’s a good question. Saw palmetto is a good example of how it happened. It can be summed up in one word, observation. People observed, or saw a change in the animals after eating palmetto berries, and thought, hey, maybe that will happen to me too. It could make me extra healthy.In 1877, Dr. Reed, of the Southern United States, in an article entitled “A New Remedy,” in the Medical Brief, St. Louis , took this observation one step further. It seems he had observed his neighbors using the berries to stay well, and looked into the matter. His article was reproduced in New Preparations. July, 1879, and was followed in the same publication by another article from the Medical Brief, written by Dr. I. J. M. Goss, then of Marietta , Georgia . From this point, the tonic makers got wind of the plant and it was then included in lots and lots of recipes for staying well.

The doctors found the fruit to be a nutritive tonic, diuretic, and a mild sedative. It was recommended in all wasting diseases, and was said to have a marked effect on the glandular systems. Most notably it had an ability to increase flesh rapidly. It was thought to be one of the best aphrodisiacs floating around, so if you want to improve your health and your sex drive, this is the plant for you.The doctors of the day found that the plant was exceptionally good in treating wasting conditions, so powerful it was able to turn the situation around, people formerly in a state of decline suddenly stopped declining and started a health incline. There are many quotes from these doctors familiar with the berry that sated that the remedy needed some further analysis, and unfortunately, it never happened.

Maybe it will be the source of some modern miracle drug. Though scientists have not looked into the plant and its values since the latter part of the last century, it is still in active use in the country parts where it grows.In that the Indians that were once living around the saw palmettoplants were forced into slavery and died in that condition, there is very little known about the plant before the colonial period.

One of the few Native American uses comes from the Seminoles, it seems they ground the berry into a nutritious flour. Elsewhere they are said to have used an infusion for stomachache and dysentery. The inner bark of the trunk was used as a pack for bug bites, snake bites, and skin ulcers. Dried fruits believed useful for indigestion, respiratory infections, and catarrhal irritation. One of the more noteworthy claims that comes to us from the Native Americans is the plant’s ability to enlarge breasts.In the bayou, the root doctors use palmetto berries to treat syphilis and other infectious diseases. One recipe calls for red oak bark, palmetto root, fig root, two pinches of alum, nine drops of turpentine, two quarts of water, all ingredients boiled down to one quart. The root doctors suggested taking one half a cup at a time. The plant’s ability to bolster the body would make it helpful in the case of infectious disease, curing syphilis is a tall order, but they must have seen some results, why else would they prescribe it.

The berries are still collected in the southern states and sold to nature food stores and to people that still practice the old time healing techniques. One company, Swamp Products, pays people to collect the berries from the wild, and then dry them for sale in the market place. A representative from that concern had this to say about saw palmetto berries:”Saw type palmetto berries, which are used in kidney medicines. We bought a lot of these soft type palmetto berries this year. About 5000 pounds, yea, I remember it was a special order that we had to keep from drying out. Those are the orange berries over there with some black ones mixed in. Some people say that they use that queen’s delight root and make a tea out of it for an upset stomach, and suff like that. Webe had some say that they boiled that soft type palmetto berry and made a juice out of it, for kidney medicine. Course that’s been talked about but I haven’t seen it yet.”A Mr. Morton had a few notes on the fruit in question, “Palmetto Berries are of great service in cold in the head, irritated mucous membrane of the throat, nose, and air passages, and in numerous other conditions. The reputed effect is primarily rejuvenation .Steinmetz lists the herb as aphrodisiac, diuretic, sedative, stimulant, tonic, and “one of the most nourishing medicines we have.” According to Hutchens, “Serenoa is of great service for colds in the head, irritate mucous membrane of the throat, nose, and air passages, and chronic bronchitis of lung, asthma. Of use in renal conditions and diabetes.” Also, suggested for epididymitis and cystitis.

Notes from the Eclectic Physicians

1895: Watkins: SAW PALMETTO, SP MED:
Prostatorrhoea, prostate gland enlarged and tender on pressure, difficult micturition. One drachm to four ounces water; teaspoonful every two hours.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage – Saw palmetto appears, from clinical reports, to be a nutritive tonic. It is also an expectorant, and controls irritation of mucous tissues. It has proved useful in irritative cough, chronic bronchial coughs, whooping-cough, laryngitis, acute and chronic, acute catarrh, asthma, tubercular laryngitis, and in the cough of phthisis pulmonalis. Upon the digestive organs it acts kindly, improving the appetite, digestion, and assimilation. However, its most pronounced effects appear to be those exerted upon the urino-genital tracts of both male and female, and upon all the organs concerned in reproduction. It is said to enlarge wasted organs, as the breasts, ovaries, and testicles, while the paradoxical claim is also made that it reduces hypertrophy of the prostate. Possibly this may be explained by claiming that it tends toward the production of a normal condition, reducing parts when unhealthily enlarged, and increasing them when atrophied.

At any rate, it has been lauded as the “old man’s friend”, giving relief from the many annoyances commonly attributed to enlarged prostate. May its results not be due to its control over urethral irritation, and thereby reducing swollen conditions not in reality amounting to hypertrophy? Besides this, it increases the tonus of the bladder, allowing a better contraction an dmore perfect expulsion of the contents of that viscus. Thus it overcomes the tenesmic pain so dreaded by the sufferer. We would rather regard it a remedy for prostatic irritation and relaxation of tissue than for a hypertrophied prostate. It is said to relieve aching, dull, throbbing pain in the prostatic portion of the urethra, with mucoid or prostatic discharge. It relieves the irritation following a badly-trated gonorrhoea. Orchitis, ovaritis, orchialgia, ovaralgia, and epidym….. have been asserted cured with it. It is reputed to restore sexual activity after exhaustive excesses, and, even in the feeble woman, strengthens the sexual appetite. Long-continued use of it is said to slowly and surely cause the mammae to enlarge. Its reputed power to reduce uterine hypertrophy is probably due to its power over relaxed tissues, the organ being not in reality hypertrophied, but large, flabby, and actively leucorrhoeal. The remedy needs a more careful and extended study. The dose of the fluid extract is from 1 to 60 drops; of specific saw palmetto, 1 to 60 drops.

1905: Petersen: SERENOA SERRULATA:Syn - Saw Palmetto; Sabal SerrulataP. E. – Fresh fruitN. O. – PalmacaeN. H Southern United States
Properties: Tonic, sedative, diuretic, improves digestion and nutrition

Use: A tonic stimulating the nutrition of the nerve centers. Relieves irritability of the nervous system mucous structures and more particularly of the nose and air passages. It stimulates digestion and assimilation. Women who have a dragging pain in the iliac region, sensitiveness to touch over the ovaries, ovarian enlargement with tenderness and dull aching pain, small and undeveloped mammae, hypertrophy of the uterus are benefited by its use if continued for some time. We think of it in enlarged prostate, atrophy of the testes or uterus and all prostatic troubles. In impotency of young men it is a valuable adjunct to other indicated remedies. Has a direct influence upon the glands of the reproductive system, as mammae, ovaries, prostate, testes, etc., increasing their functional activity and tending to bring about normal action and size. In nervous and general debility. In chronic catarrh, laryngitis, coughs, aphonia, whooping cough, chronic catarrh, bronchitis, etc., it is a valuable adjunct to other indicated remedies.

1911: Fyfe
Enlarged prostrate, functional inactivity of the reproductive system of both the male and female, atrophy of the mammae, uterus, testes, prostatic troubles of all kinds, chronic laryngitis and chronic pharyngitis, chronic bronchitis. The most marked action of this agent is on the prostrate gland, and it is successfully employed in both the enlargement and atrophy of that gland. It improves the functional activity of the reproductive system through its power to reinvigorate and balance the nervous system. Sabal serrulata is tonic, diuretic, and invigorator of the nervous system.

1911: LLOYD
Saw palmetto, Serenoa serrulata, Sabal serrulata. The berry of the saw palmetto, practically known in medicine before 1879, came rapidly into conspicuity, both in pharmacy and in medicine, after that date. It had been observed by the settlers of the South that animals feeding on the matured fruit “grew very sleek and fat,” a fact that was ascribed to the therapeutic qualities of the berries, reasoning from which they prepeared a decoction of the fruit for domestic medication. IN 1877, Dr. Reed of the Southern United States, in an article entitled “A New Remedy,” in the Medical Brief, St. Louis (417), stated that several persons in his neighbourhood were using a preparation of the berry, giving instances of its use in various directions. This article was reproduced in New Preparations (467), July, 1879, and was followed in the same publication by another article from the Medical Brief, in which Dr. I.J.M. Goss, then of Marietta, Georgia, states that he had been induced to use the remedy and considered it a satisfactory one. After this introduction the drug came repeatedly to the attention of practititioners of medicine. Manufacturing pharmacists gave it especial attention, and at the present time it is one of the most important remedial productions of the South. Thus the experimentation of the people, following its apparent effect on animals, was followed in turn by the investigations of the medical profession, and the remedy was finally introduced to the pages of the Pharmacopeia. In our opinion the volatile oil and its decomposition products are of exceeding interest and will yet be a prolific source of detailed research.

Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.