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atural Medicine Research

Study: Saw Palmetto Herb Effective for Enlarged Prostate

© Ray Sahelian MD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Natural Medicine Research by Ray Sahelian MD. View all columns in series
Ray Sahelian The November 11, 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association published a comprehensive review article regarding the herbal therapy of benign prostate enlargement. This condition is common in men aged 50 and older. The enlarged prostate leads to frequent urination and nighttime awakenings. Standard therapy has been the use of a medicine called finasteride which helps to shrink the prostate.

Over the past two decades, several studies in Europe with extracts from the saw palmetto berry have shown benefits with this herbal therapy. The JAMA review article pooled the results of 18 of these studies totaling 2,939 men. Compared to placebo, or dummy pill, those who received saw palmetto were twice as likely to have improved urinary symptoms compared to those on placebo. The benefits with the herb were actually comparable to finasteride. One side effect of finasteride is erectile dysfunction. Saw palmetto did not cause this problem.

Los Angeles physician Ray Sahelian, M.D., author of Saw Palmetto: Nature's Prostate Healer (Kensington Press, 1998), says, "I find saw palmetto very helpful in improving symptoms of prostate enlargement. At least two-thirds of patients find that they visit the bathroom less frequently overnight. At a fraction of the cost of finasteride, saw palmetto is an excellent first line therapy for any male who has mild to moderate symptoms of prostate enlargement. Improvements are most often noticed after two weeks of therapy. Finasteride can always be added later if saw palmetto does not produce satisfactory results."

JAMA. 1998;280:1604-1609

Ray Sahelian, MD, does not sell or endorse products. For further information, see his bio at

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About The Author
Ray Sahelian, M.D., is a popular and respected physician who has been seen on numerous television programs including NBC Today, Dateline NBC, and CNN, and quoted by countless major magazines such as Newsweek He is the bestselling author of Mind Boosters, Natural Sex Boosters, and ...more
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