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Saw Palmetto is a supplement which is derived from the fruit of the plant Serenoa Repens. The supplement (Saw Palmetto) has a caloric value, as it is a concoction of fatty acids.
The fatty acids in question have the ability to block an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the latter of which is a more androgenic form and can cause hairloss in the genetically susceptible.
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A 160 to 320mg a day of a Saw Palmetto extract containing 80-90% liposterolic (active) compounds is typically used.
Saw palmetto extract comes from the berries of the American Serenoa Repens, a dwarf palm tree. The extracts have traditionally been used to increase sperm motility and libido, to increase breast size, and sometimes as a diuretic.
As a plant, Saw Palmetto contains:
Primarily saturated and unsaturated fatty acids; most (84%) in free fatty acid form and a small amount (>10%) in esterified form.
The composition of free fatty acids in Saw Palmetto include lauric acid, myristic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid. Lauric and Oleic both appear to be the most prominent fatty acids in Saw Palmetto (around 15% each) and have inhibitory effects on 5alpha-reductase.
There seems to be wide variance in total fatty acid content of Saw Palmetto supplements, with the fatty acid content ranging from 40.7% to 80.7%, methyl and ethyl esters ranging from 1.5-16.7%, and glycerides ranging from 6.8-52.2%. The variance seen is due to processing and sources of Serenoa Repens.
Saw Palmetto alleviates Prostate Hyperplasia by both traditional routes, the androgenic route via inhibiting the 5-alpha reductase enzyme and the adrenergic route by acting as an alpha-1 adrenergic antagonist. The latter route appears to be more effective.
Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (or Hypertrophy; interchangeable terms in this regard) is a multiplication of cells in the prostate which creates nodules that push into and compress the urinary tract, causing pain or complications in urination.
The mechanisms by which Saw Palmetto acts is via inhibition of both type I and type II isozymes of the 5alpha-reductase enzyme. This lowers levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by inhibiting testosterone's conversion into DHT, and appears to be via lauric and oleic acid.
Saw Palmetto has been found in vitro to directly inhibit prostatic alpha-1 adrenoreceptors in a non-competitive manner. Saw Palmetto also seems to suppress testosterone-induced upregulation of alpha-1 adrenoreceptors in the prostate.
Saw palmetto contains tannic acids, which bind to iron and reduce bioavailability. Minor sexual dysfunction has also been reported, possibly through pro-estrogenic effects. Beyond that, side-effects are not discernable from placebo.
(Common misspellings for Saw Palmetto include paletto, palmeto, pametto, pameto)
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