Saw palmetto, a common palm tree found in the southeastern United States, is best known as the source of a popular treatment for prostate problems. The active ingredient comes from an extract of the tree's berries.
Uses: Available as dried berries, teas, tinctures, fluids, gelatin capsules and tablets, saw palmetto is taken by some men to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, a condition that affects many men after age 30. The risk increases with age. Men with the condition may have increased nighttime urination and trouble urinating.
Dose: The typical dose is 325 milligrams daily. Products that are considered of high quality are those with labels stating that the dose contains 85% to 95% fatty acids and sterols, which is the formula typically used in studies on the herb.
Precautions: Although benign prostate hyperplasia can be diagnosed only by a doctor, saw palmetto supplements appear safe and nontoxic. Taking the supplement does not affect levels of serum prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, which is measured during screening for prostate cancer.