Saw Palmetto Safety

There is a lot of information to be aware of before starting an herbal supplement like saw palmetto. Safety tips include watching out for potential drug interactions, avoiding the supplement during pregnancy, and letting your healthcare provider know if you have an upcoming surgery before taking it. Knowing precautions and warnings with saw palmetto before starting treatment can help minimize risks.

Is Saw Palmetto Safe?

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a supplement often used for enlarged prostate treatment, although it is sometimes used for other purposes. You may not be able to take saw palmetto safely if you:
  • Are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Have an upcoming surgery
  • Have any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Saw Palmetto Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of saw palmetto include the following:
  • The supplement should not be taken during pregnancy. Theoretically, saw palmetto may cause problems if taken during pregnancy, since it can affect certain hormones (see Saw Palmetto and Pregnancy).
  • Saw palmetto supplements may interact with some medications (see Saw Palmetto Drug Interactions).
  • It is not known if the herbal supplement is safe for breastfeeding women (see Saw Palmetto and Breastfeeding).
  • Theoretically, saw palmetto may increase the risk of bleeding. Make sure to ask your healthcare provider if you should stop taking it before any surgeries -- or even dental procedures.
  • If you decide to use supplements, what you see on the label may not reflect what is in the bottle. For example, some herbal supplements have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals or prescription drugs, and some have been found to have much more or less of the featured ingredient than the label states. Therefore, make sure the manufacturer of your saw palmetto is trusted and reputable. It is a good sign if a manufacturer abides by the rules of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for drugs. It is also a good sign if a product has the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) seal or National Formulary (NF) seal, which usually means that the product has been independently tested and shown to contain the correct ingredients in the amounts listed on the label. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are most reputable.
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