SAW PALMETTO AND PCOS IN WOMEN
By The Nutrition Shoppe, Nov 11 2016 03:24PM
By Jillian Stansbury, ND
Serenoa is indicated for benign prostatic hyperplasia, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and hormone imbalances (estrogen or testosterone). It promotes genitourinary health in both sexes, improves libido and sexual vigor, and chronic nonbacterial prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
Mechanism of Action
Serenoa berries contain fatty acids known collectively as liposterols and named individually as lauric, oleic, myristic, and linoleic acids. All of these fatty acids have been shown to inhibit the 5 alpha-reductase enzyme, found in the adrenal glands (and in men, the prostate as well) that converts testosterone into its most active form, dihydrotestosterone. Women with hirsutism and elevated testosterone may have excessive 5 alpha-reductase enzyme activity. Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia in men, and thinning of the hair in women may also be initiated and promoted when 5 alpha-reductase is up regulated. Saw Palmetto has been shown to promote hair growth compared to placebo in men with androgenic alopecia, and the herb might benefit women as well.
Elevated androgens is the hallmark of PCOS in women. Serenoa has been shown to reduce the uptake of androgens, including dihydrotestosterone and testosterone, into tissues by 40%.
Prolactin is typically elevated in women with PCOS and a leading cause of amenorrhea and infertility.
In women with PCOS, elevated prolactin can suppress follicle maturation, ovulation, and contribute to ovarian cysts. Animal studies show Saw Palmetto to inhibit prolactin receptors on ovarian cells and reduce the basal activity of K(+) channels and of protein kinase C involved with the transduction of prolactin signals.
Evidence Based Research
There has been a great deal of research regarding Saw Palmetto and its ability to treat diseases of the prostate in men, but very little research in women. Environmental toxins can disrupt reproductive development and function by both mimicking and inhibiting endogenous steroids contributing to infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, hormonal cancers, thyroid disease, and other ailments.
Saw Palmetto may help reduce elevated androgens and prolactin typically seen in women with PCOS. Animal studies show Saw Palmetto to block prolactin receptors on ovarian cells over-expressing prolactin receptors.
Jillian Stansbury, ND, BS, AHG, CMA has practiced in Southwest Washington state for more than 25 years specializing in women’s health, mental health, and chronic disease. Dr. Stansbury is the former chair of the Botanical Medicine Program at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon and remains on the faculty teaching natural products chemistry, botanical influences on cell biology, ethnobotany field course, and other miscellaneous topics in herbal medicine. She writes for numerous professional journals plus teaches around the country at a variety of medical and herbal conferences.
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