saw palmetto berry improves symptoms and quality of life in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia or enlarged prostate

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate, will affect the quality of life of more than half of all men in their lifetime. 90% of men over 85 suffer through it. But there is a safe herb that works as well as any of the far less safe drugs.

One of the reasons men often chose to just wait out there BPS is that the drugs have side effects, including erectile dysfunction. But saw palmetto has been repeatedly shown to treat BPH without causing erectile dysfunction.

So, researchers set out to see how taking saw palmetto berry compared to the watchful waiting that so many men choose.

The 6 month study measured symptoms and quality of life in 783 men with moderate to severe lower urinary tract symptoms caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia. The dose of saw palmetto berry extract was 320mg a day.

When symptoms were measured on the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS), they improved significantly more in the saw palmetto group: 25% versus 15.3%. Problems of voiding, including straining to void, weak stream and incomplete emptying, improved significantly more in the saw palmetto group: 24.4% versus 12.2%. Problems with urgency, frequency and waking up in the night to urinate also improved significantly more in the saw palmetto group: 25.8% versus 19.4%.

When it came to quality of life the impressive results were the same: the saw palmetto was significantly better on the Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Impact Index (BII). Quality of life improved by 30% in the saw palmetto group versus 17.5% in the watchful waiting group. Physical discomfort improved more in the saw palmetto group, but the difference was not significant. But the difference was significant for worrying about health (31.3% improvement versus 18.8%), bothered with urination (28.6 versus 15.4) and limitations on daily activity (35.7% versus 15.4%).

It is interesting that the men in this study had moderate to severe symptoms and not just mild and that the improvements on the IPSS in the saw palmetto group are comparable to improvements seen in drugs in other studies.

This study’s focus on quality of life and not just symptoms is also important. An improvement of more than 0.4 points on the BII has been shown to be considered clinically relevant by patients. The improvement in this study greatly exceeded that: 1.8 points. The difference between the herb group and the watchful waiting group was a full 0.8 points. This improvement on saw palmetto is as good, or even slightly better, than improvement shown on drugs in other studies with the added benefit that the drugs frequently cause erectile dysfunction and saw palmetto does not. Other studies have found even greater improvement on saw palmetto berry. As consistently reported in saw palmetto studies, the herb was very safe.

This study adds to the pile of evidence that saw palmetto berry extract is the best treatment for men with BPH. Several studies have proven it to be as good or better than the drugs without their side effects, including a recent meta-analysis that found it to be better than placebo and as good as the best drugs while being safer.

The most recent meta-analysis found saw palmetto berry extract to be as effective as tamsulosin without the erectile dysfunction and libido side effects (Am J Mens Health March-April 2020;14(2):1557988320905407).

J Clin Med. 2022 Feb;11(4) 967

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For much more on treating prostate problems naturally, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia and Sex & Fertility: Natural Solutions.

For more on saw palmetto berry, see our book Healthy Herbs: Your Everyday Guide to Medicinal Herbs and Their Use.

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