Is saw palmetto an alpha blocker?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

Saw palmetto is not an alpha blocker. Alpha blockers are a class of medications commonly prescribed to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). These medications work by relaxing the muscles in the prostate and bladder, which can help improve urine flow and reduce urinary symptoms such as frequent urination, weak urine stream, and difficulty starting and stopping urination.

On the other hand, saw palmetto is a plant extract derived from the berries of the Serenoa repens plant. It has been traditionally used as a natural remedy for urinary symptoms associated with BPH. While saw palmetto is believed to have some anti-inflammatory properties and may affect hormone levels, its exact mechanism of action is still not fully understood.

There have been several studies investigating the effectiveness of saw palmetto in relieving symptoms of BPH. One notable study published in 1998 compared the effects of saw palmetto extract to the alpha blocker finasteride. The study found that both treatments were equally effective in improving urinary symptoms and urinary flow rate. However, it is important to note that this study has been criticized for its methodological flaws, and subsequent studies have provided conflicting results.

The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) is an organization that sets quality standards for medications and dietary supplements. They have reviewed the available scientific evidence on saw palmetto and concluded that the studies examining its effectiveness are not of high quality. The USP’s reviewers found that the study comparing saw palmetto to an alpha blocker was too loosely designed to draw reliable conclusions.

It is also worth mentioning that individual responses to saw palmetto can vary. Some people may experience significant improvement in their urinary symptoms while others may not see any benefits. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new medication or supplement, including saw palmetto, to ensure it is appropriate for your specific situation and to discuss potential risks and benefits.

Saw palmetto is not an alpha blocker. While there have been studies suggesting its effectiveness in relieving symptoms of BPH, the quality of evidence is still debated. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and to discuss the potential benefits and risks of using saw palmetto or any other treatment for BPH.