Clinical studies have given inconsistent results on the use of saw palmetto for treating symptoms of BPH. Overall, there is not enough scientific evidence to support its use.
Saw palmetto does not appear to affect readings of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. PSA is protein produced by cells in the prostate. The PSA test is used to screen for prostate cancer and to monitor patients who have had prostate cancer.
So far, research suggests that saw palmetto is not effective in lowering the risks of developing prostate cancer. However, more research is needed.
Saw palmetto appears to be well tolerated by most users. Side effects include stomach discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, and headache. Decreased libido and runny nose have also been reported.
The following may interact with saw palmetto:
- anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin)
- antiplatelet drugs (e.g., clopidogrel)
- contraceptive drugs
Stop taking saw palmetto at least 2 weeks before elective surgery to avoid excessive bleeding.
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not use saw palmetto.
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.