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Saw Palmetto. Serenoa serrulata.

Botanical name:

Synonym—Sabal serrulata.

Specific Medicine Saw Palmetto. Dose, ten drops to one dram.

Physiological Action—The attention of the profession was called to this palm by Goss and others, from its superior fat producing properties in animals. It was observed as soon as the berries matured that the animals which fed upon them grew very sleek and fat. Read noticed the marked healthfulness of these animals, and concluded to try the berries as a medicine. As a result he found them to improve the digestion, increase the flesh, strength and weight, and steadily relieve irritation of mucous structures, especially those of the nose and air passages. Subsequent observation has proven the remedy to be a tonic of much power in stimulating the nutrition of the nerve centers, upon and through which it operates.

It relieves irritability of the entire nervous system and soothes local irritation. It stimulates digestion, greatly improves the appetite, and encourages assimilation.

As stated, it influences the mucous structures of the nose, throat and bronchi in a remarkable manner, overcoming catarrh and restoring normal function.

Specific Symptomatology—The direct influence of this agent is exerted upon the entire reproductive apparatus, especially upon the prostate gland of the male. It is demanded in enlarged prostate, with throbbing, aching, dull pain, discharge of prostatic fluid, at times discharge of mucus, also of a yellowish, watery fluid, with weakened sexual power, orchialgia, epididymitis and orchitis, when associated with enlarged prostate. In women, ovarian enlargement, with tenderness and dull aching pains, weakened sexual activity, and small, undeveloped mammary glands, are much benefited by its continued use.

Therapy—It is a sedative to all irritable conditions of these organs, and is a profound nutritive tonic, operating much like phosphorus. It increases the size and secreting power of the mammary glands where they are abnormally small and inactive. It improves the tone, and overcomes irritability of the ovaries, relieving dysmenorrhea when due to atonicity. It may be given with confidence in wasting of the testes in the early stages, and the author has retarded the development of varicocele and has developed the growth and nutrition of the testes materially by its use.

To this agent is ascribed considerable power in reducing the size of hypertrophied prostate in old men, and in quickly relieving cystic and other disorders incident to this condition. In the writer's hands it has produced no marvelous cures of this disorder, but it has been of assistance to other measures and could not be well dispensed with. It relieves irritation of the bladder to a satisfactory extent, correcting the irritable character of the urine, increases the muscular power of the patient to expel the urine and produces a sense of relief, that is in every way gratifying and satisfactory.

In the treatment of impotence in young men who have been excessive in their habits, or have masturbated, it can be relied upon with positiveness. It will overcome the excitability from exhaustion and increase sexual power in those newly married who, having been anxious concerning their sexual strength or ability, have become suddenly almost entirely impotent after marriage. If the patient is instructed to abstain, for from four to six weeks, and to have confidence in his ultimate recovery, this agent in doses of from twenty to thirty drops three or four times daily, combined with a direct nerve tonic, such as avena sativa in doses of fifteen drops, or the one one-hundredth of a grain of phosphorus, will establish a cure. It will relieve any undue irritation, due to excess and exhaustion, that may be present in any part of the genito-urinary apparatus.

This agent is a remedy for sexual neurasthenia or sexual perversion with nerve exhaustion, a condition often overlooked in diagnosis, but quite common, one which follows onanism more often than any other habit. Its use should be persisted in for weeks, in the treatment of this form of nerve exhaustion, and if combined with avena sativa, the phosphates, strychnia, or the tonic gold salts, and abstinence enforced, a cure will result more readily than with all the rest without it.

An exceedingly important use for this remedy that I have not been able to find in the books, is its use for sterility. In simple cases where there is no organic lesion on the part of the patient, this agent has an excellent reputation for restoring the ovarian action properly and assisting in putting the patient into an excellent condition. One conscientious reliable lady physician assures me that in five definite cases, pregnancy has followed the use of this remedy where sterility was pronounced previously, and thought to be incurable.

The late Dr. E. M. Hale in his little work on this remedy said:

"I consider saw palmetto one of the most effectual uterine remedies."

"I believe it will be found, if administered early, to be the chief remedy in metritis, pelvic cellulitis and peritonitis, salpingitis, ovaritis, puerperal fever, appendicitis (giving first teaspoonful doses of pure olive oil every half hour until the pain is relieved, which seldom requires more than five or six doses.) It is also valuable in perityphlitis and proctitis, especially if the prostate gland is involved."

In its influence upon the nasal and bronchial mucous membranes this agent has been given with excellent advantage in the treatment of acute catarrh, chronic bronchial coughs of all characters, including whooping-cough, laryngitis and the cough of phthisis. It is credited also with cures in the treatment of aphonia.


The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.



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