Saw palmetto is a small palm tree which grows in the southeast United States. Off of the pointed branches of the tree grow small berries. Both the plant and the berries are used medicinally to treat a range of medical conditions. The Native Americans from the Seminole tribe ate saw palmetto berries to treat urinary and reproductive problems, and today it is one of the most commonly used supplements to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate.
Saw palmetto is most commonly used to treat an enlarged prostate. The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It is located between the urethra and the bladder. As a man ages, the prostate grows—but sometimes it can grow too big and put pressure on the bladder. This causes symptoms like frequent urination, trouble starting a urine stream, weak urine stream, or inability to empty the bladder. It works by slowing the production of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase which converts testosterone into another hormone that can cause an enlarged prostate.
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