Saw Palmetto for Diabetes

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Saw palmetto, a plant sometimes used in medicine to treat an enlarged prostate, has been used as a remedy for different health conditions. Although sources rarely mention saw palmetto among the herbs to aid diabetes, it may contain properties that might relieve certain effects of the disorder, such as possibly helping to regulate blood sugar levels. However, using saw palmetto or other alternative medicine should be done under the supervision of your doctor when you have diabetes.

Blood Sugar

Diabetes occurs when the body’s cells do not use blood glucose, also called blood sugar, properly and the levels begin to fluctuate. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin, which regulates blood sugar, but the cells are unable to recognize, thus causing a deficiency in insulin production. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin at all. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes, but adults can also get it. Diet, exercise and medication help to control the condition.


Fatigue is often a symptom of both types of diabetes because the body lacks blood sugar to produce energy. Other symptoms include unusual thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss and irritability. Type 2 diabetes may also result in blurred vision, bruises or cuts that heal slowly, tingling and numbness in the extremities, and frequent skin or gum infections.

Possible Benefits

Saw palmetto may help the pancreas and contribute to balancing blood sugar levels for diabetes, according to an article on The Herbs Place website written by James D. Jenks, a doctor of homeopathic medicine. The fruit of the plant may help repair wasting body conditions and work to help people with type 2 diabetes. Saw palmetto is just one of many herbs that Dr. Jenks mentions that might help restore blood sugar levels for diabetics. These include golden seal, juniper berries, mullein leaves, yarrow flower and garlic bulb. Because of the general weakness and fatigue caused by diabetes, some complaints from the disorder include impotence. Saw palmetto has been used to enhance sexual drive, MedlinePlus notes, but research in this area remains inconclusive.

Side Effects

Saw palmetto has been used as a diuretic to increase urine flow, but not enough research has been done to confirm its effectiveness, according to MedlinePlus. Frequent urination is a symptom of diabetes because excess blood sugar builds up in the blood, causing the kidneys to absorb and excrete the excess sugar, which also leads to increased thirst. Limited evidence suggests that saw palmetto may cause problems with the pancreas for some people, but not enough research has been done in this area, and the problems could be caused by other factors. MedlinePlus states that saw palmetto is likely safe for most people to take, with possible mild side effects such as dizziness, headache and nausea.