Although saw palmetto has traditionally been used only in men, it is starting to show up in herbal supplements for women as well. It is sometimes claimed to be useful for the following problems in women:
Also, saw palmetto is sometimes claimed to help with breast enlargement.
However, keep in mind that saw palmetto has never been shown to be effective for such uses. Also, the safety of the supplement has not been adequately studied in women. Because of its effects on hormones, saw palmetto may cause problems during pregnancy. Until more information is available, it is probably not a good idea for women to take saw palmetto.
Final Thoughts on the Effectiveness of Saw Palmetto
Early studies suggest that saw palmetto may be useful for treating the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. However, further research is needed to confirm that it is indeed effective and safe for this and other uses. It is important to remember that saw palmetto is classified as a supplement, not a drug, and is, therefore, less strictly regulated than drugs. This means that it can be marketed without being shown to be safe or effective.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed January 4, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: saw palmetto (May 2006). NCCAM Web site. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/palmetto/. Accessed January 4, 2008.
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