Natural Remedies - Saw Palmetto

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)is a disorder typically involving aging males, where the prostate enlarges ad presses against the urethra and bladder, causing varying levels of discomfort. (Click here for more details.) BPH can typically be treated by minimally invasive treatment, medical treatment, surgical treatment, and naturopathic treatment. One popular natural treatment of BPH involves taking an extract of the saw-palmetto berry. About 2.5 million U.S. adults reported using saw-palmetto, and it is also used widely in Europe. Given its extensive use, the study proponents decided to conduct a randomized double-blind trial compared to a placebo, to determine the efficacy of saw palmetto for the treatment of BPH.

Patients (225 total) suffering from moderate to severe BPH symptoms were randomly assigned to receive 160 mg of saw palmetto extract twice daily, or a similar-appearing placebo. Patients were tracked using several clinic visits, for 12 months after start of the treatment. The effect of the treatment was judged by a seven-item AUASI questionnaire that evaluates the severity of BPH symptoms, as well as by the peak urinary flow rate.

The bottom line - within the Margin of Error, both the AUASI score, and the peak urinary flow rate are identical for saw palmetto and the placebo. The risk of side effects in the two groups was also equivalent. In an analysis of previous experiments that suggested that saw palmetto was slightly better than a placebo, the authors note that saw palmetto has a strong pungent odor that was not masked, something that would impair the "blindness" of the study.

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Last Modification - March 4, 2006