Saw palmetto dietary supplements are primarily used in the U.S. to improve urinary flow and reduce the frequency and urgency of urination in men with prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH). Saw palmetto and other dietary supplements, which now represent $14 billion in annual sales, are not considered drugs in the U.S. and do not require testing for quality by any governmental or independent agency prior to sale.
Saw palmetto is a type of dwarf palm whose berries are used medicinally, most often in the form of an extract. Among clinically tested saw palmetto extract products, at least 85% of the extract's weight have been attributable to specific fatty acids and sterols. To evaluate products against this standard, ConsumerLab.com purchased 27 leading brands of saw palmetto supplements through retail stores, on-line retailers, and direct sales or multi-level marketing companies. Five saw palmetto extract products were immediately eliminated from testing because their labels indicated that they had been standardized to levels of fatty acids and sterols that were below 85%. A sixth product was eliminated as it had incomplete labeling to determine the amount of saw palmetto per serving.
Among the 21 remaining products that then underwent laboratory analysis, four were found not to contain the minimum amounts of specific fatty acids and/or sterols commonly found in the saw palmetto products used in published clinical trials. These four products all had fatty acid levels that were accordingly too low and two of these products also had inadequate sterol levels. The list of products that passed ConsumerLab.com's independent testing, as well as more information about the testing, are available at www.consumerlab.com.
"At a minimum, consumers should be checking the labels of these products to see that they at least purport to contain ingredients shown to work clinically, such as saw palmetto extract standardized to 85% fatty acids and sterols," said Tod Cooperman, M.D., president of ConsumerLab.com. "However, as some labels are either incomplete or inaccurate, the names of products that passed ConsumerLab.com's testing are now posted at our Web site," he added. To further assist consumers, ConsumerLab.com is licensing its flask-shaped Seal of Approved Quality for Saw Palmetto to manufacturers and distributors to use on products that have passed testing. ConsumerLab.com will periodically re-evaluate these products to ensure their compliance with its standards. In addition, manufacturers and distributors may request the testing of products not already tested. The list of saw palmetto products that have passed testing will be continually updated.
ConsumerLab.com's Product Reviews this year will include echinacea, calcium, chondroitin, garlic, ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, glucosamine, SAMe, saw palmetto, St. John's wort, vitamin B complex, vitamins C and E, and multivitamins. Product Reviews are being released on a monthly basis at www.consumerlab.com and other Web sites licensed by ConsumerLab.com. The next Product Review is to be released later in February and concerns glucosamine and chondroitin products, used primarily to treat conditions associated with osteoarthritis.
ConsumerLab.com is an online provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of health, wellness, and nutrition products. The company is privately held and headquartered in White Plains, New York. It is not affiliated with companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products. Parties interested in licensing content or requesting testing of additional products may contact Lisa Sabin, Vice President for Business Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about Consumerlab.com is available at www.consumerlab.com.
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