It is currently not known whether it is safe for women to take saw palmetto. Breastfeeding women should be aware that researchers do not know if problems would occur to a nursing infant if the supplement passes through breast milk. Since the risks are entirely unknown and there are no documented benefits of saw palmetto for women, breastfeeding women should not use this product.
Saw Palmetto and Breastfeeding: Is It Safe?
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is an herbal supplement usually used by men to treat the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. It is not known if saw palmetto is safe for use in breastfeeding women, or even for women in general. Until more information is available, it is a good idea to avoid saw palmetto if you are breastfeeding.
Saw palmetto can affect various hormones in the body. It has effects on both male hormones (specifically, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone or DHT) and female hormones (specifically, estrogen). It is not known if any problems would occur to a breastfed infant if saw palmetto passes through breast milk, or if it may affect a woman's ability to breastfeed. Since the risks are entirely unknown, and since there are no documented benefits of saw palmetto for women, this product should not be taken by women who are breastfeeding.
Talking With Your Healthcare Provider About Saw Palmetto and Breastfeeding
You should talk with your healthcare provider about saw palmetto and breastfeeding. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision about saw palmetto and breastfeeding that is right for you. However, most healthcare providers recommend against taking saw palmetto while breastfeeding.
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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