Mouse Garden

Monday, 28 July, 2008

Saw Palmetto

Filed under: Hair Loss — Admin @ 09:37

Florida Forest Plants

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)

Saw palmetto grows on a wide variety of sites, from dry and open to seasonally wet and semi-shady. Across this wide range of habitats, it most frequently occurs on sand ridges, flatwood forests, coastal dunes, and islands near marshes. Saw palmetto is the dominant ground cover in some southeastern pine forests, sometimes covering hundreds of acres. Saw palmetto often grows in clumps 20′ or more in diameter.

Saw palmetto is found in most of the southeast coastal plain, between Louisiana and Florida in the south, to South Carolina in the north.
Black bears, white-tailed deer, and feral hogs eat the fruits of saw palmetto. Native Americans also used the fruits for food. The fruits are collected today for herbal medicines that may help prevent certain forms of cancer. The flowers are an important source of honey and clumps of palmetto are often favorite hiding places of rattlesnakes, wasps, and the Florida panther. This plant got is named for the saw-toothed leaf stems that are very sharp.
Saw palmetto may be confused with dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) because of their similar sizes and leaf shapes. Dwarf palmetto has blue-green leaves, has no spines on the leaf stems, and the circular fruits are about ½” in diameter.

Identifying Characteristics

Size/Form: Saw palmetto is a branched, hardy, fan palm that measures two to nine feet tall. Its stem usually remains below ground or runs horizontally along the surface. In some cases, it develops an upright or arching stem.

Leaves: The leaves spiral around the stem. They are circular in outline and are usually 2′ to 3′ across. They are deeply divided into many dagger-shaped segments. The leaf stems are about 2′ to 3′ long and sharply saw-toothed.

Fruit: The fruit is ovoid and drupe-like, ½” wide, and ripens from green to black on a branched cluster shorter than the leaves.

Stem: The stem is horizontal above or just below the ground, frequently branched, and sometimes has an upright or leaning portion.

Habitat: It is found on sites ranging from seaside sand dunes and dry scrub to pinelands, hammocks, moist forests, and wetlands.




Comparison to cabbage palm



The berries of the American saw palmetto plant can increase urine flow, reduce inflammation, and relieve muscle spasms.

Saw palmetto berries were a staple food among native Americans of the southeastern United States. They also used them to treat digestive problems and intestinal disease, and even to boost libido. Early in the 20th century, saw palmetto was listed in the US Pharmacopoeia as an effective remedy for bladder and urinary tract inflammation, breast disorders, bronchitis, laryngitis, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.

Saw palmetto may also be useful in treating the following conditions:

  • Hirsutism — an excessive growth of dark, coarse body and facial hair in women
  • Polycystic ovarian disease  — multiple ovarian cysts that lead to menstruation problems and possible infertility

What’s It Made Of?

Saw palmetto’s active ingredients include fatty acids, plant sterols, and flavonoids. The berries also contain high molecular weight polysaccharides, which are usually associated with either anti-inflammatory or immune-stimulant effects.

Available Forms

Saw palmetto can be purchased as dried berries, tea, powdered capsules, tablets, liquid tinctures, and liposterolic extracts. The product label should indicate that contents are standardized and contain 85 – 95% fatty acids and sterols.

How to Take It


Saw palmetto is not currently recommended for children.


The recommended dosages for early stages of BPH is 160 mg, twice a day. The supplement should be a fat-soluble saw palmetto extract that contains 85 – 95% fatty acids and sterols.


Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, herbs should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.

Saw palmetto is a very mild herb. The American Herbal Products Association gives saw palmetto a class 1 safety rating, which means that it is safe when used as directed. Side effects are very rare, although mild stomach complaints and minor headaches may occur. One case of significant bleeding during surgery has been attributed to saw palmetto use prior to the operation.

Saw palmetto has not been studied or used in women who are pregnant or nursing.

Saw palmetto may interfere also with the absorption of iron.

Sources: and


1 Comment »

  1. Interesting facts about saw palmetto. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Prevent Androgenetic Alopecia — Friday, 21 August, 2009 @ 07:18 | Reply

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