Saw palmetto is a type of palm.
A slow growing attractive plant, saw palmetto grows to a height of approximately 1.8-2.4 meters ( 6 to 8 feet high).
The berries of saw palmetto are dark red or brown, of a shape similar to olives and about 1 inch (2.5cms) in length.
Saw palmetto is native to the Atlantic coast of the United States of America.
This palm is also native to the West Indies and can be found on islands of the Caribbean Sea.
Saw palmetto has phytotherapeutic qualities. Phytotherapy refers to the use of plants and herbs, or their extracts, as a medicine.
As a herb, saw palmetto is used in a number of treatments. For example, saw palmetto supplements are often taken to help with the associated symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH); see also, 'benefits of saw palmetto'.
Traditionally, saw palmetto berries have been used as a food. Extracts of the berry of saw palmetto have been used by Native Americans and the Mayans as a tonic. Extracts of saw palmetto have been used by the Seminole, a Native American tribe as both an antiseptic and as an expectorant.
The effects of saw palmetto extract are varied and may include:
An expectorant is a medicine which encourages the elimination of phlegm (thick mucus) from the lungs.
Historically, extracts of saw palmetto berry as an expectorant has been used to alleviate the symptoms of tubercular laryngitis and coughs including bronchial and whooping cough.
As discussed in the section, 'benefits of saw palmetto', there are currently few valid research studies giving scientific validation to these uses.
Despite the need for further validation, saw palmetto supplements are very popular & may bring health benefits.
It should also be noted that there are possible side effects of taking saw palmetto.