Objectives: To assess the effects of saw palmetto on voiding symptoms and urodynamic parameters in men with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) presumed secondary to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Methods: Fifty men with previously untreated LUTS and a minimum International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) of 10 or greater were treated with a commercially available form of saw palmetto (160 mg twice per day) for 6 months. The initial evaluation included measurement of peak urinary flow rate, postvoid residual urine volume, pressure-flow study, and serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. Patients completed an IPSS, serum PSA was determined, and flow rate was measured every 2 months during the course of the study. A urodynamic evaluation was repeated at the completion of the 6-month trial.
Results: The mean IPSS (+/-SD) improved from 19.5+/-5.5 to 12.5+/-7.0 (P <0.001) among the 46 men who completed the study. Significant improvement in the symptom score was noted after treatment with saw palmetto for 2 months. An improvement in symptom score of 50% or greater after treatment with saw palmetto for 2, 4, and 6 months was noted in 21% (10 of 48), 30% (14 of 47), and 46% (21 of 46) of patients, respectively. There was no significant change in peak urinary flow rate, postvoid residual urine volume, or detrusor pressure at peak flow among patients completing the study. No significant change in mean serum PSA level was noted.
Conclusions: Saw palmetto is a well-tolerated agent that may significantly improve lower urinary tract symptoms in men with BPH. However, we were unable to demonstrate any significant improvement in objective measures of bladder outlet obstruction. Placebo-controlled trials of saw palmetto are needed to evaluate the true effectiveness of this compound.