The Journal of American Medical Association released a 1998 review stating that s aw palmetto is effective in improving urological symptoms and urine flow . For the review, 18 randomized trials with almost 3,000 male participants were analyzed; 28 percent of the men taking saw palmetto showed fewer urinary tract symptoms, 24 percent showed improvement in peak urine flow and overall urine flow improved for 43 percent of the participants. The results were comparable to the group taking Proscar — a prescribed medication — and they were much more promising than the men taking a placebo.
Native tribes of Florida relied on saw palmetto berries for food; however, Europeans often disliked the taste. While native medicinal use of saw palmetto is not recorded, it was introduced into Western medical practice in the 1870s and was a favorite of Eclectic medical practitioners for prostate and other urologic conditions. Saw palmetto berries were officially included in the US Pharmacopeia in 1906 and 1916, and in the National Formulary from 1926 to 1950. While use in the United States declined after that time, saw palmetto has long been a staple phytomedicine in Europe.