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Saw palmetto used by millions of men for non-cancerous prostate problems

Saw palmetto used by millions of men
Proven benefits for non-cancerous prostate problems Optimal Health Systems
April, 2010

Saw palmetto berries come from a little palm tree indigenous to the coastal regions of the southern United States—particularly Florida, though some sources say it is also native to the West Indies. It is often referred to as the ‘American Dwarf Palm Tree’ and ‘Cabbage Palm.’ The botanical name is Serenoa repens. The berries, about the size of a grape, hanging from a small palm tree, have come to be known today as the ‘guy herb,’ used by millions of men primarily in Europe but increasingly in the United States.
According to mothernature.com, “The guys most likely to want it are primarily middle-aged or older men who find that they’re answering nature’s call two or three times a night.” Often that ‘call of nature’ turns out to be a teaser. The urge may be great but the result is a mere trickle. This false alarm can be a sign of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that constricts the urethra, the tube that leads from the bladder to the penis. This may cause not only reduced urine flow, but painful urination, difficulty starting or stopping the flow, or dribbling after urination.
BPH occurs when testosterone, the male sex hormone, is converted by an enzyme to a more potent hormone that causes cells and tissues to grow and proliferate. That’s all right for most young men, but as men grow older and the organs are fully developed, the continued cell growth becomes a liability. It is a common problem in But why these escalating rates of BPH—not to mention prostate cancer rates, which are much less common, though also increasing? According to growing scientific evidence chronicled in Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, estrogens likely play a role in the development of BPH, based on the fact that BPH occurs when men have elevated estrogen levels and relatively reduced free testosterone levels. Wikipedia goes on to note that the rates of “clinically significant, symptomatic BPH vary dramatically depending on lifestyle. Men in the U.S. and other western nations have a much higher incidence than men who live a traditional western lifestyle.” This was borne out especially graphically in China where a comprehensive survey showed skyrocketing rates of BPH among city men who had adopted the western lifestyle, compared to their brethren in the country whose diet was simple, basic and unadulterated with additives.
“We are living in the age of estrogen,” says Dr. John Foster, Associate Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “Our food supply is laden with traces of herbicides, pesticides, hormones and petrochemical residues, all of which are linked to abnormalities and cancers of human tissues.” He advises a diet high in fermented and raw vegetables (preferably organic) to stave off these developing problems. Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and bok choy are particularly It is expected that up to sixty percent of all men will develop BPH in their lifetimes at the rate we’re going now. Currently, an estimated six million men between the ages of 50-79 have BPH serious enough to require some type of therapy.
But what kind of therapy? The most commonly used prescription drug is Proscar. Other common prescription drugs include Flomax, Cardura and Hytrin. But, according to Dr. William Page- Echols, an assistant clinical professor of family medicine who teaches alternative medicine at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic medicine in East Lansing, Saw palmetto, taken daily, inhibits the enzyme in a natural way so the hormone conversion doesn’t occur. He usually advises using it in combination with zinc, a low-fat diet and plant-based medicines such as flower While Proscar has much the same kind of inhibiting action as Saw palmetto, there is some evidence that it can cause impotence and breast enlargement. Cardura and Hytrin, originally prescribed to treat hypertension, can suddenly drop blood pressure, causing light-headedness and fainting. The U.S. Library of Medicine says there are few side effects in published literature on Saw palmetto. What complaints there are involve stomach gas or nausea.
A warning is appropriate here, issued by Dr. Arnaldo F. Trabucco of the Department of Surgery, Division of Urology at the Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens in Elmhurst, New York. Alarmed at the increasing trend of self-medication for BPH before seeking medical advice, Dr. Trabucco points out that the inhibiting action of Saw palmetto could mask prostate cancer detection. It is imperative, he says, that men with prostate problems be tested for a baseline PSA (prostate specific antigen) level. (This test is routine before prescribing a medicine, but not for Saw palmetto.) PSA is released into a man’s blood by the prostate gland. Healthy men have low amounts of PSA. The amounts increase as the prostate enlarges with age, but do not cause problems for everyone. PSA may also increase because of inflammation (Prostatitis).
Or….elevated PSA could signal cancer.
Health practitioners in both the conventional and natural fields recommend annual prostate exams for men over fifty. At the very least, a blood test measuring PSA is called for if prostate problems should occur.
Now for a bit of history: Saw palmetto was a staple food and medicinal item for the Seminole Indians whose medicine men also wore a medicine bag of the dried berries to treat illness and to nourish the body. It was used as an expectorant, an antiseptic, for improving reproductive health and milk production in women and to treat men’s urinary problems. The Mayans used tea from the Saw palmetto berry as a general, all-around tonic. Early Europeans in the Americas acquired herbal remedies such as Saw palmetto from the natives. In the early 1800s, medical botanist John Lloyd noted that animals that ate Saw palmetto appeared healthier than other livestock.
The medicinal uses of Saw palmetto were first documented in 1879 by Dr. J.B. Read, a physician in Savannah, Georgia, who published a paper on the medicinal benefits of the herb in the April, 1879 issue of the American Journal of Pharmacy. “It seems strange that it should have so long escaped the notice of the medical profession,” he wrote. A pungent tea made from Saw palmetto berries was commonly used in the early 1900s to treat prostate enlargement and urinary tract infections. Saw palmetto was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia from 1906 to 1917 and in the National About the time that use of herbal remedies began declining in the U.S. in favor of pharmaceutical drugs, the study of and revival of old remedies increased in Europe.
As Dr. Trabucco concluded in his article on the importance of PSA blood testing, the escalating cost and sometimes dangerous side effects of conventional medicine has provoked Americans to seek more healthful and cost-effective approaches… ”Physicians in the U.S. are not informed about alternative botanical medicine,” he says, “We are far behind the European community in this regard.” Ironically, U.S. rates of chronic and killer diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease are higher than anywhere in the world…and striking ever younger people. That should tell us something about our lifestyle…and why many Americans are opting for better diets and traditional alternative treatments such as Saw palmetto.

Source: http://www.optimalhealthsystems.com/MailImages/Download/154.pdf

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