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Another 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 period.

"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.

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