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March 2013

Saw Palmetto May Benefit BPH, Sexual Dysfunction

Saw palmetto may be effective in treating symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and sexual dysfunction, a study reports.

A healthy prostate is about the size of a walnut. The prostate changes size very little from birth until puberty, after which its weight and size both increase, remaining constant for the next 30 or more years. In some men, the prostate never again increases in size. Most men, however, will develop some form of non-cancerous enlargement, known as BPH.

Saw palmetto is used popularly in Europe to treat symptoms of enlarged prostate. Although it is not considered the standard of care in the United States, it is the most popular herbal treatment for this condition. More than two million American men use saw palmetto for enlarged prostate, and it is commonly recommended as an alternative treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In the current study, the researchers evaluated the effectiveness of a saw palmetto berry preparation, Prostasan®, to see if it could impact BPH and sexual dysfunction symptoms. Each of the 82 participants in the trial took one saw palmetto capsule (320 milligrams) daily for eight weeks. At the end of the treatment, the research team looked for effects on prostate symptoms and sexual dysfunction.

The results suggested that both BPH symptoms and sexual dysfunction improved after use of saw palmetto. The treatment was well-tolerated and accepted by the subjects. The researchers also confirmed the link between improvement in BPH symptoms and reduction in sexual dysfunction.

According to the team, theirs was the first trial with saw palmetto to show improvement in both BPH and sexual dysfunction.

BPH affects about half of men aged over 60 and 80% of men aged 80 or older; it is considered to be a condition related to aging. Almost every man over 45 has some prostate enlargement, but symptoms are rarely felt before the age of 60. BPH affects all men differently and therefore treatment varies.

For more information about BPH, please visit Natural Standard's Medical Conditions Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Suter A, Saller R, Riedi E, et al. Improving BPH symptoms and sexual dysfunctions with a saw palmetto preparation? Results from a pilot trial. Phytother Res. 2013 Feb;27(2):218-26. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4696. Epub 2012 Apr 23. 

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