Saw palmetto – dissapointing study

Share Button

Take home message FIRST


  1. Saw palmetto taken alone is no better than placebo
  2. Herbalist, Naturopaths and other Complementary health care practitioners often use saw palmetto along with other agents, eg. Pygeum, rye pollen extract, beta sitosterol, nettle root, etc. an this combination may have beneficial effects when taken together
  3. There has always been synergistic value in medicinal plants taken together as oppose to taken individually
  4. This study, unlike other studies on saw palmetto had the best design:
  • Close to 400 subjects
  • Dose escalation to up to 960mg
  • Placebo randomized trial
  • In men with Mild to Moderate BPH (Barry et al. 2011)

It doesn’t get better than that.


My take on this


Great study  and well put together.

In the past saw palmetto has proven as beneficial when compared to Proscar, a popular drug used for BPH that shrinks the prostate and relieves symptoms. Avodart is the more modern type of drug with a similar mechanism – 5 alpha reductase inhibitor. It is thought that saw palmetto had similar, although weaker abilities with less side effects.

A study in 2005 (Bent et al), suggested that saw palmetto was no better than placebo in men with moderate to severe BPH. I barked at this study because they studied men with moderate to severe BPH at only 320mg a day.

No more barking from my end. This recent study went as high as 960mg and subjects had mild to moderate BPH. It is not clear that their urinary symptoms were derived from an enlarged prostate or from bladder dysfunction but that’s OK. I’ll let that slide.


The combination of saw palmetto with other natural agents, however, may still be highly useful to many men suffering from Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS). Other useful agents include: rye pollen extract, pygeum, cranberry extract, beta sitosterol, etc without the side effects. For a complete list of studied natural nutrients for BPH and a description of this condition go the most credible prostate website on the net –


In Optimal Health,

Dr. Geo



Bent S, Kane C, Shinohara K, Neuhaus J, Hudes ES, Goldberg H, Avins AL.Saw palmetto for benign prostatic hyperplasia. N Engl J Med. 2006 Feb 9;354(6):557-66.

Barry et al, Effect of increasing doses of saw palmetto extract on lower urinary tract symptoms: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2011 Sep 28;306(12):1344-51.


Share Button

by Dr. Geo

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Next Post:

Previous Post: