Saw palmetto is used to treat men with an enlarged prostate, according to Mayo Clinic. It is also used for hair loss, prostate cancer and prostate inflammation. Saw palmetto is also used before prostate surgery in order to help the recovery process and increase the effectiveness of surgery.
Research results on the effectiveness of saw palmetto for enlarged prostate are mixed, according to Mayo Clinic. However, many studies report the effectiveness of saw palmetto as equivalent to hormonal agent Proscar. Research on hair loss suggests saw palmetto may improve hair density, although more research is needed. Saw palmetto may block cancer cell growth, although human research is limited.
The evidence is conflicting when it comes to treating prostate inflammation and the benefit of saw palmetto over standard drugs is lacking. Research is needed on the effectiveness of saw palmetto alone in treating prostate inflammation. Early research suggests saw palmetto may improve the effectiveness of prostate surgery and reduce bleeding and the duration of catheter use after surgery.
Saw palmetto works by interfering with the body's response to testosterone, states Healthline. Prostate cell growth is subsequently reduced. Saw palmetto also works by shrinking the inner lining of the prostate and reducing pressure on tubes carrying urine, according to Medline Plus.