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Saw Palmetto Berries: The Herbal Wonder From the Southeastern U.S.
Fast Facts: Saw palmetto is used for hair restoration and hair health, restoration of sex drive and sexual vigor, prostate health and cancer prevention, breast health and enhancement, muscle tone and muscle building and as a general health and vitality tonic.
Saw palmetto dosage for most purposes is 160mg of standardized extract twice per day. A 320mg dose once per day worked just as well. Higher doses did not increase benefits.
Safety profile: Compared to leading prescription drugs for BPH saw palmetto has a much better safety profile. Nausea when taken on an empty stomach was only noted side effect in studies. The drugs have shown erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory disturbance and altered libido as side effects.
1.Carroro, J. International Study. 1098 participants comparing saw palmetto to Proscar for BPH. Results; equally effective. Saw palmetto no side effects. Proscar reduced PSA levels and worsened sexual function.
2. Various: Seven double blind studies compared saw palmetto to placebo. Results; Significantly improved measures of prostate disease over placebo group.
3. Marks et al. 2001 Saw palmetto showed a 32% reduction in DHT levels.
4. Tenaglia and DiSilvario. Saw palmetto showed significant increases in testosterone levels and lower levels of DHT in test subjects.
For more research studies see: The American Botanical Council ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. Mark Blumenthal.
Saw Palmetto Today
Deep in the steamy heart of Florida, amidst sand pine scrub and in the undergrowth of other flat woodland areas, grows the saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) plant. Saw palmetto is a low-growing palm whose berries have been cherished by herbalists and natural medicine practitioners for years, while the shrub has been reviled by ranchers and developers for being persistent and undesirable. Now, as international awareness grows of the therapeutic properties of saw palmetto, the plant has become so valuable that poachers have taken to raiding saw palmetto plants on private land and in wild areas, selling the precious berries to the highest bidder.
The Windmill Palm
Saw palmetto, sometimes known as sawtooth palm or windmill palm, grows in the southeastern United States from South Carolina to Southern Mississippi. It grows naturally in every county of Florida. Saw palmettos grow in dense clumps, and have broad, fan-like leaves. The berries are sheltered inside the thick foliage on small stems attached to the trunk. The hard saw teeth for which the plant is named run along the petiole, or leaf stalk, making collection of the protected berries very dangerous and difficult. The hardy, compact saw palmetto is very fire resistant, and it often grows in areas which are naturally prone to fire. Saw palmettos flower from December to March, bearing deep purple berries between April and October.
These berries produce a juice, the taste and smell of which have inspired hot debate. One of the herbalists at Frontier has claimed that the fruity, pungent saw palmetto is "the worst herb I've ever tasted" while others find the flavor deep and satisfying, like a fine wine. Frontier always uses whole ripe berries, which are firm and undamaged before they are processed. We use only certified organic saw palmetto in our Fresh Herb Extracts and Whole Organic Berries sold in bulk; the berries we use for our other bulk products are grown on plots of cooperatively-owned private land in Florida. To make our Saw Palmetto Berries Powder, we have our supplier partners gently dry these whole berries and then we grind them cryogenically (at sub-zero temperatures) so that their active constituent fatty acids are preserved from the heat and friction which occur in a conventional grinding process.
The Healthy Berry
Saw palmetto has been used for centuries. Native Americans, dating back perhaps to pre-Mayan civilizations, used the berries for food and medicine. Early American botanists noted that animals who were fed with these berries grew sleek and robust. Saw palmetto is useful as a nutritive tonic, supporting the function of a healthy appetite and smooth digestion. Saw palmetto berry also tones the urethra, and it may be used to uphold the healthy function of the thyroid gland and urinary system. In one of its more exotic uses, saw palmetto has been employed as a sexual stimulant ingredient in love potions (though of course Herb Notes cannot promise love, only knowledge). It has also been commonly recommended in folk medicine for breast enlargement in women. However, much of the recent attention paid to saw palmetto in the United States and Europe has focused on its properties in relation to the prostate gland.
Good prostate health can be threatened by the hormone dihydrotes-tosterone (DHT). DHT is converted from the male hormone testosterone in the prostate, particularly in men over 50. One of the effects of DHT is to cause prostate cells to multiply, which induces the prostate to become larger. Saw palmetto inhibits the functioning of DHT by preventing it from binding to prostate cells. Furthermore, it actually prevents the conversion of testosterone into DHT in the prostate. This remarkable herbal action makes saw palmetto a superior supplement in maintaining a normal, healthy prostate function and can help with hair loss and baldness.
The Consequences of Recognition
Studies demonstrating these therapeutic properties have caused the demand for saw palmetto berries to escalate dramatically. This has produced something of a saw palmetto boom in parts of Florida. The raiders who have taken to sneaking into cultivated fields and wild areas to poach the valuable berries can earn handsome profits in the marketplace. In addition to hurting those growers and landowners who are being robbed, this situation may be upsetting the delicate balance of some of the area ecosystems. Saw palmettos are an important source of food and shelter for a number of wildlife species. Among them, the very rare Florida panther often makes its den amidst tall stands of mature saw palmettos. The indiscriminate harvesting of wild saw palmetto berries could negatively impact some of these species. For example, research is currently being conducted at the University of Florida to determine the effect of saw palmetto harvesting on the black bear, a threatened species in Florida.
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Greenbush Bio-Chelated Extracts: Until Bio-Chelation there was simply no good way to make a potent alcohol-free extract. Greenbush alcohol free extracts begin with organic alcohol regardless of whether the final product contains alcohol or not. After finishing the first step in the plant extraction, an additional step is performed to remove the alcohol. This is done by utilizing a proprietary cold extraction process called Bio-Chelation®. Bio-Chelation® describes the cold process vacuum distillation method, which removes all the alcohol initially used to obtain the good herbal extract.
Holistically Balanced Herbal Extracts: It is important to note that a cold extraction process, as opposed to a heat extraction process, helps maintain the full spectrum, or Holistic BalanceTM of the plant's constituents in the final product. The end-result is an alcohol-free extract containing the essential properties of the complete herb in a base of vegetable glycerin and water. (Vegetable glycerin is used because it can help to bind certain plant constituents, is natural to the body, easily absorbed, tastes sweet without affecting blood sugar levels, and acts as a good solvent and carrier for the plant constituents).
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