Patients may not Benefit Saw Palmetto - Herbal Supplement Tested
New research indicates that the herbal extract saw palmetto was no more
effective than the placebo for improving urinary symptoms in men with
enlarged prostate. Researchers led by Stephen Bent, MD, a staff
physician at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and Andrew Avins, MD,
MPH, of the Northern California Kaiser Permanente Division of Research,
conducted a double blind study involving 225 men.
The researchers randomly assigned patients with enlarged prostates a
placebo or saw palmetto. They took the tablets twice per day for one
The subjects were tested for symptoms and side effects. The symptoms
were assessed according to a standard symptom score for benign prostate
hyperplasia (BPH) and objective measures of urinary function.
Stephen Bent, who is also a professor of medicine at the university of
California, San Francisco, said “If you look at the change in symptoms
over time between the two groups, it was almost identical. There was no
statistically significant difference at any time point during the
They also divided the men into subgroups. These groups included men
with more and less severe symptoms and those with larger and smaller
prostates. Here again, they found no difference in any of the
subgroups. The effects of the placebo and saw palmetto were the same.
Saw palmetto is used by an estimated 2 million men in the US, according
to a University of San Francisco press release. According to the
National Institutes of Health, BPH affects more than 50 percent of the
men over 60 and upwards of 90 percent of the men over 70.
The results were surprising because earlier studies found saw palmetto
beneficial. Bent said “"Prior studies were generally small in size and
short in duration. Plus, the vast majority of them did not use the
standard symptom score that we used for assessing the severity of BPH."
It is unknown whether patients would benefit from other dosages. Bent
said “whether other doses, formulations, or patient populations might
respond differently is unknown."
Best Syndication Staff Writer
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