Saw palmetto (also known as the sabal palm) is a dwarf palm tree found in the West Indies and in the United States along the southern Atlantic coast. It grows to a height of 6 to 10 feet, with a fan-shaped crown of 2 to 4 foot serrated leaves. The tree bears wrinkled, red-brown to black berries, which are used for health purposes.
The active components in saw palmetto berries include fatty acids and sterols. Extracts of saw palmetto berries are usually standardized to contain 85 to 95 percent fatty acids and sterols.
Medical studies have used 320 mg per day, divided into two 160 mg doses. To assure reliable potency, many herbalists recommend a fat-soluble extract standardized to contain 85 to 95 percent fatty acids and sterols. Saw palmetto is well tolerated with few reported side effects, usually limited to minor gastrointestinal complaints.