Objectives: To assess the effects of saw palmetto on urinary symptoms, sexual function, and urinary flow rate in men with lower urinary tract symptoms using a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.
Methods: The eligible patients were 45 years of age or older and had an International Prostate Symptom Score of 8 or greater. After a 1-month placebo run-in period, 85 men were randomized to receive saw palmetto or placebo for 6 months. Patients were evaluated using the International Prostate Symptom Score, a sexual function questionnaire, and by measurement of the urinary flow rate.
Results: The mean symptom score decreased from 16.7 to 12.3 in the saw palmetto group compared with 15.8 to 13.6 in the placebo group (P = 0.038). The quality-of-life score improved to a greater degree in the saw palmetto group, but this difference was not statistically significant. No change occurred in the sexual function questionnaire results in either group. The peak flow rate increased by 1.0 mL/s and 1.4 mL/s in the saw palmetto and placebo groups, respectively (P = 0.73).
Conclusions: Saw palmetto led to a statistically significant improvement in urinary symptoms in men with lower urinary tract symptoms compared with placebo. Saw palmetto had no measurable effect on the urinary flow rates. The mechanism by which saw palmetto improves urinary symptoms remains unknown.