Alternative Remedy, Saw Palmetto, Gains Respect
By Bob Condor
CHICAGO, Jan. 25, Chicago Tribune -- Alternative
medicine becomes a more obsolete term every month. American researchers
are continuing to dig for answers about the effectiveness of so-called
alternative therapies such as acupuncture (which has been long
studied in Asian cultures) and herbs (documented extensively during
the 1900s in Europe, especially Britain and Germany).
One of December's examples comes from University
of Chicago researcher Dr. Glenn Gerber. He published a study in
the peer-reviewed Journal of Urology that showed saw palmetto
extract (from the plant's berries) can improve urinary symptoms
such as an enlarged prostate or urinary-tract infection. The men
in the study, ages 45 to 80, reported relief during a six-month
"The study provides the best evidence
to date that saw palmetto can have a beneficial effect,"
said Gerber, a urologist with a university-based practice.
"The findings give us more information
to tell our patients. We can say it appears saw palmetto is a
safe, well-tolerated substance that produces short-term improvement
of urinary symptoms."
The 85 men in the study were scored at two-,
four- and six-month intervals for such symptoms as how often you
get up at night to urinate, if you urinate more frequently than
every two hours, feeling an urgency to find a bathroom, stopping
and starting during urinary flow, rating the stream flow and difficulty
urinating. Gerber and his colleagues used the standard scoring
system developed by the American Urological Association that rates
men from 0 to a worst-case 35.