SAW PALMETTO, Serenoa serrulata repens

Saw palmetto is a strange name. The “saw” comes from the serrated edge or saw-toothed petiole or stem. In palmetto, “palm” refers to palm tree and “etto” is for miniature or dwarf. So in ‘palmetto” you have a small, or miniature, palm tree.
Saw palmetto is native to the southeastern part of the United States. From our history books, we remember that it was Ponce de Leon who discovered Florida. He told everyone that he found this beautiful paradise while he was looking for the fountain of youth.

One time in a class, I heard of an Indian legend about Ponce de Leon that was a little different. They said he heard of a miniature palm plant in the New World that was as aphrodisiac. As the story was told, this same plant was also good for men who had a prostate problem. Now, I don’t know about the aphrodisiac part, but saw palmetto is good for the male prostate gland, especially if it is inflamed and swollen. Saw palmetto is one of the main herbs in Grandma’s herbal Prostate formula.

Saw palmetto is a low, scrubby palm that can grow up to about 8 or 10 feet high, but most are dwarfs that are about 4 or 5 feet tall. They have large trunks, mostly covered with withered leaves or twiggy prostate branches. Some have large subterranean trunks or roots. Repens in the botanical name means creeping stems.

The good leaves on the saw palmetto look like a big fan and are about 3 feet to one meter across and grow in groups. The fragrant flowers grow in clusters. They are ivory to greenish-white with 3 to 5 petals and they bloom from May to July. They mature into clusters of black to dark purple meaty fruit with large, long stones, somewhat like dates. Some say this palm is closely related to a date palm. The saw palmetto likes to grow on the dunes along the seacoasts. They are native to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

For the most part, saw palmetto is known as a help to the prostate gland, as well as the male reproductive organs. In an old herb book that was published about an hundred years ago. It said that saw palmetto was lauded as the “old man friend,” giving relief from the many annoyances commonly attributed to an enlarged prostate. Many books and studies say that swelling of the prostate gland and that it will help to overcome slow and painful urination and dribbling that seem to affect many men as they get up in years.

Strangely enough, more than one report says that saw palmetto is also good for the female organs. The reports stated that it will help kidney and bladder problems in women, and act as a diuretic, and help with many of the urinary problems of women, and men. It also recommended in many wasting diseases and will and as a tonic and helps to restore a gland that has atrophied.

Another old herb book says that long, continued use of this herb will slowly, but surely, cause the mammae to enlarge. Some say saw palmetto is good to treat coughs and colds and to get rid of excess mucus from the head, sinuses and lungs. It is also used to soothe the air passages of the throat and bronchial and help to overcome asthma and bronchitis. When we read of all the wonderful herbs that have been available for man to use for thousands of years, it is no wonder that our forbears were so healthy. They knew herbs worked! Too bad that more people don’t have faith in herbs, or knowledge like they had.

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