An extract made from the berries of this shrub is used to treat and strengthen the male reproductive system. It is particularly recommended for benign enlargement of the prostate gland. This disorder is indicated by urination difficulties and can lead to bladder infections and kidney problems. Common among men over 50, the condition is thought to be caused by an accumulation of a testosterone derivative called dihydrotestosterone, which saw palmetto appears to block the production of. The herb has also been used as an expectorant, diuretic, tonic, antiseptic, sedative and digestive aid. It is native to the sandy coast of the southeastern United States, where the plant reaches a height of about 10 feet.
Over the counter:
Available as fresh or dried berries and in powder or capsule form. Gel capsules are preferable to tea or tincture, because the active ingredients of the herb are fat soluble and do not dissolve well in water.
Infusion: With fresh berries, 1/2 to 1 tsp. berries per cup of boiling water steeped for 10 minutes.
Decoction: 1/2 to 1 tsp. dried berries added to 1 cup water, brought to a boil and simmered for 5 minutes.
Tincture: 15 to 60 drops in water consumed two or three times daily.