In case you’re one of the many men who are taking saw palmetto to mitigate or forestall prostate problems, you might want to know this: All the clinical studies that have been done on saw palmetto showing positive affects on prostate have been done using saw palmetto oil, not the powdered kind you find in capsules. That is not to say that the powdered kind has no positive effects – we just don’t know from scientific research that it does.
We do know this: Typical saw palmetto powder capsules are the same size as the capsules that contain the oil, but they contain a lot less of the ingredients that clinical trials have shown to be effective.
Valensa International, big producers of numerous dietary supplement ingredients, including saw palmetto oil, explains it this way: “The components of saw palmetto that are interesting to scientists break down into four groups: free fatty acids, phytosterols (plant sterols), free fatty alcohols and monoglycerides. The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) has developed a set of minimum standards for saw palmetto as a nutraceutical supplement based on total fatty acids, fatty acid profile, total fatty alcohols and phytosterol levels (U.S. Pharmacopeia Saw Palmetto Extract. USP 26 – NF 21 First Supplement. 2003.p.3024-25).
“Very high efficiency saw palmetto extraction methods – such as supercritical CO2 – yield higher levels of these important compounds. With powder-form products, the oils are held inside the inert berry mass, and subsequently, they have substantially lower amounts of the relevant compounds. Laboratory analysis shows that saw palmetto powders contain between 10 and 12 percent oil, while the high quality extracts contain 100 percent.”
Valensa says this means that you would have to consume between seven and 10 capsules of the powdered form a day to ingest the 320mg oil-extract dose supported by the trials.
Personally I have enough resistance to swallowing big gelatin capsules that I would much prefer taking one over 10, thanks very much. Think it’s time for me to switch.