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Complement Ther Med. 2008 Jun;16(3):147-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2007.10.005. Epub 2008 Feb 20.

A detailed safety assessment of a saw palmetto extract.

Author information

  • 1Division of Research, Northern California Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco, CA, USA. andrew.avins@ucsf.edu <andrew.avins@ucsf.edu>

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Saw palmetto is commonly used by men for lower-urinary tract symptoms. Despite its widespread use, very little is known about the potential toxicity of this dietary supplement.

METHODS:

The Saw palmetto for Treatment of Enlarged Prostates (STEP) study was a randomized clinical trial performed among 225 men with moderate-to-severe symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, comparing a standardized extract of the saw palmetto berry (160 mg twice daily) with a placebo over a 1-year period. As part of this study, detailed data were collected on serious and non-serious adverse events, sexual functioning, and laboratory tests of blood and urine. Between-group differences were assessed with mixed-effects regression models.

RESULTS:

There were no significant differences observed between the saw palmetto and placebo-allocated participants in the risk of suffering at least one serious adverse event (5.4% vs. 9.7%, respectively; p=0.31) or non-serious symptomatic adverse event (34.8% vs. 30.1%, p=0.48). There were few significant between-group differences in sexual functioning or for most laboratory analyses, with only small differences observed in changes over time in total bilirubin (p=0.001), potassium (p=0.03), and the incidence of glycosuria (0% in the saw palmetto group vs. 3.7% in the placebo group, p=0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

Despite careful assessment, no evidence for serious toxicity of saw palmetto was observed in this clinical trial. Given the sample size and length of this study, however, these data do not rule out potential rare adverse effects associated with the use of saw palmetto.

PMID:
18534327
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2518869
Free PMC Article
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