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How Do I Determine the Appropriate Saw Palmetto Dosage?

By Kathy Heydasch
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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Saw palmetto is an herbal supplement which is used most often to treat problems of the prostate, so its primary beneficiaries are men ages 40 and up. The type of extract is the most significant factor used to determine the appropriate saw palmetto dosage. With a standardized extract, which contains 80 to 90% fatty acids, the typical dosage is 320 mg once daily or 160 mg twice daily. The dosage for a non-standardized extract which contains only about 25% fatty acids is 400 mg twice daily. The extract in a pill form is the most common saw palmetto dosage, but it is also available as a pure ground powder.

Also known as serenoa repens, saw palmetto is an extract of the berries of the saw palmetto tree, which grows in southeastern North America, primarily in the state of Florida. Fatty acids are thought to be the most beneficial part of the berry. The percentage of fatty acids in the extract is used to determine the appropriate saw palmetto dosage. The higher the percentage of fatty acids, the lower the dosage required.

In cases where the type of extract or the percentage of fatty acids is not listed, the label of the product should determine the appropriate saw palmetto dosage. One such supplement lists instructions to take two 500-mg tablets every day, for a total of 1,000 mg daily. Users must be careful, however, not to use too much. This is not a case of "more is better," since higher doses of saw palmetto might interfere with the detection of prostate-specific antigens which are important in spotting prostate abnormalities early.

Since saw palmetto is not a medicine, but an herbal supplement, its dosage is not always governed by regulatory agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration in the US. Although clinical studies have shown some positive results from the use of saw palmetto, the performance of the supplement has not been verified by medical research. Not only is there no proven way to determine the appropriate saw palmetto dosage, there is no guarantee of its effectiveness.

Since strict quality control guidelines are not always in place for saw palmetto, the purity and potency of the supplement can also come into question. It is important to find a reliable manufacturer with a proven track record. In the arena of herbal supplements, not every country has governing agencies to ensure the product lives up to the standards on the label.

What Is the Best Time of Day to Take Saw Palmetto?

Saw palmetto can be taken any time during the day that is convenient for you. The important thing is to find a way to incorporate it into your daily schedule at a time that you will remember it and it is easy to make a habit. For example, many people find it helpful to take supplements with a specific meal or when brushing their teeth.

Do I Have to Take It at the Same Time Every Day?

It is generally best to take herbal supplements around the same time each day. If the product you choose suggests a saw palmetto dosage of more than once a day, try to spread them out evenly if possible. The idea behind this is to get a consistent amount of the herb in your body throughout the day so it has the best chance of being effective.

Should I Take It With Food?

Saw Palmetto can typically be taken with food or not, depending on the sensitivity of your stomach. Some people may find that they get digestive issues when taking supplements on an empty stomach. In that case, it's fine to take it with meals, but it's not necessary.

How Much Saw Palmetto Is Too Much?

As previously mentioned, herbal supplements are not regulated, and there are many brands of saw palmetto products on the market. Because of differences in formulations, it is difficult to compare options, and it can't be assumed that because one lists a higher number of milligrams per dose, it is a stronger or better product. Always refer to the packaging on the label for the correct dosage.

Does the Product I Choose Make a Difference?

While the supplement packaging will dictate the appropriate dosage, this does not necessarily mean that you are getting the right amount of high-quality saw palmetto in each dose. Choosing a product from a reputable manufacturer will help to ensure that what you're taking has the best chance of being effective.

What About the Different Forms of Supplements?

Although it is possible to purchase the saw palmetto as berries, it is most often sold in capsules, liquid or tea formulations. Research studies thus far have been focused on powdered capsules. This does not mean that the liquid and tea formulations will not work; they just haven't been studied extensively. The form the supplement comes in will also affect the dosage.

Is the Standard Dose Always Right?

Another issue with taking any herbal supplement, just as with any pharmaceutical medication you might be prescribed, is that every body is different. The recommended doses are guidelines, but it is possible that they may work differently with your individual system. If you have any other health issues or are taking multiple medications or supplements, it may be best to talk to a healthcare practitioner for help in determining the best product and saw palmetto dosage for you.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Although most people can take saw palmetto without any problems, the possible side effects are digestive issues, including nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, as well as headaches and dizziness. If a person has an allergy to the herb, they may have any of the typical allergic reactions, including hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the mouth or throat.

What Happens If You Take Too Much?

In addition to possibly interfering with detecting prostate-specific antigens, which is essential for monitoring your health, saw palmetto can potentially interfere with blood clotting. This may increase the risk of bleeding. If you find you are bruising more easily, getting nosebleeds, or having more frequently bleeding gums, stop taking the supplement and contact your health care provider.

Can You Take Saw Palmetto Every Day?

For most people, saw palmetto has been found to be safe, and the side effects listed above are rare. If you have no adverse reactions, it is recommended to take saw palmetto every day for optimum results. However, there are some instances when saw palmetto is contraindicated or may need to have the dosage altered.

When Do You Need to Take Caution?

If you are taking any of the below medications or have liver or prostate disease, caution should be taken, and a healthcare practitioner consulted. In addition, this is not generally an appropriate supplement for women, especially pregnant ones.

  • Blood-thinning medications
  • Hormone replacement
  • Birth control
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin
  • Benign prostate hypertrophy medications
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Discussion Comments

By bear78 — On Apr 07, 2013

@burcidi-- I think saw palmetto also builds up in the body over time. 320mg is not a high dose at all. Most of my supplements are between 500mg and 1000mg but when it comes to saw palmetto, this dose is enough for me.

The issue is that it takes a while to take effect. Some people get impatient and build up the dose quickly. But it's better to stick to a shorter dose for a longer period because there are less side effects that way.

I've been taking saw palmetto for a year, but I don't take it every day and I take several weeks off every two months.

By burcidi — On Apr 06, 2013

@fify-- I don't think it's possible for anyone to say how much is enough for you. You have to figure that out yourself because everyone reacts differently to supplements.

I suggest starting out with 320mg and give yourself at least several weeks to see if it's working. If you don't get results at this dose, you may want to increase it to 480mg or 640mg depending which type of capsules you have.

If it still doesn't work, I don't think you should go up to very high doses because saw palmetto has side effects. Large doses taken over long periods can cause serious problems.

By fify — On Apr 06, 2013

I'm planning to buy saw palmetto supplements soon. I've heard from several people that saw palmetto can stop hair loss. I don't want to take a higher dose than necessary though. Would 320mg daily be enough to see results for hair loss?

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