Recent study finds high level of variability between saw palmetto-based products


The products were purchased from major online and brick-and-mortar retailers, and then researchers measured their total fatty acid content and individual fatty acid profiles.

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A recent study1 published in JU Open Plus evaluated 28 saw palmetto products, including berry powders, powdered extracts, berry blends, lipid extracts, and multiactive products (lycopene, pumpkin oil, etc). The products were purchased from major online and brick-and-mortar retailers, and then researchers measured their total fatty acid content and individual fatty acid profiles using validated gas chromatography-fatty acid methyl ester methodology. The results were compared to the U.S. Pharmacopeia monograph standards for lipidosterolic extracts of Serenoa repens. Researchers determined that the total fatty acid content of the products ranged from 0.796% for a berry powder product to 89.923% for a lipid extract product.

Moreover, none of the berry powders or powdered extract met the criteria for ≥80% total fatty acid content, while 6 of 9 lipid extracts, and one multiactive product met the ≥80% total fatty acid content criteria. Additionally, only one of the 28 products met the U.S. Pharmacopeia criteria for a standardized lipidosterolic extract, defined as total fatty acid content ≥80% and a fatty acid profile indicative of authentic S. repens based on the ratios of the lauric acid concentration to 9 other individual fatty acid concentrations.

According to a press release from Valensa, who partially funded the study, the product that met the U.S. Pharmacopeia criteria was its USPlus product. The company says, USPlus undergoes a rigorous quality control process that ensures the product contains only mature wild-harvested, Fresh from Florida® saw palmetto berries that are sourced using sustainable harvesting practices. The quality is also made possible by a proprietary ultrahigh pressure extraction process, says Valensa.

“Only concentrated extract of mature saw palmetto berries has been found to inhibit the biological process by which testosterone gets converted to DHT, which leads to benign prostate enlargement,” said Bilal Chughtai, MD, a board-certified urologist and lead author of the study, in a press release. “This study not only confirms the rampant variability of saw palmetto products, but also highlights the need for physicians and industry to verify the quality of the supplements they’re recommending to patients and consumers to ensure the best results possible.”

“Without studies like this to bring quality issues to light, it’s very difficult for consumers to know if they’re taking a supplement full of ‘sawdust’ that doesn’t do anything or a quality saw palmetto product that promotes your prostate health,” said Stephen Hill, vice president of Quality and Regulatory of Valensa International, in the press release. “By understanding the role that high-quality saw palmetto extract can play in men’s health, millions of men can benefit from this safe and natural solution to maintaining prostate health and possibly prevent or delay the need for more serious medical interventions down the line.”


  1. Chungtai, B.; Bhojani, N.; Zorn, K.C.; Elterman, D. Variability of Commercial Saw Palmetto–Based Supplements for the Management of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia/Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms. JU Open Plus, 2023, 1 (8): e00037. DOI: 10.1097/JU9.0000000000000040

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