The Florida palm tree, Serenoa repens, is a small palm tree that can grow up to 2 metres tall. Every year, around 7,000 tonnes of the fruit of this dwarf palm ("saw palmetto" in English) are imported into Europe for the pharmaceutical industry.
In phytotherapy, the blue-black fruit of the Florida palm is used. Once pressed, the fruits release an oil containing triacylglycerols, including oleic, lauric and linoleic acid. Phytosterols, alkanes, alkenes and polyprenols, including farnesol and geranylgeraniol, are also present.
The Florida palm has an anti-androgenic hormonal effect on the prostate. It inhibits the enzymes responsible for the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a powerful androgen, the increase in which is the main cause of prostate hypertrophy.
In addition, in vitro studies have shown that inhibition of 5-α reductase by saw palmetto decreases the proliferation of prostate carcinoma cells in men, this anti-proliferative effect being accompanied by the death of cancer cells by apoptosis. The Florida palm does not interfere with the secretion of PSA by prostate cells, which is measured during prostate cancer screening.
Furthermore, Serenoa repens inhibits oestrogen receptors, which in the long term would allow the prostate hormone receptors to be reduced. Reducing these receptors would decrease the binding to DHT.
The Florida palm inhibits cyclo-oxygenases, which gives it anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, Serenoa repens reduces post-micturition residue.
- The Florida palm, also known as the "dwarf palm", helps to maintain normal urinary function in men over 45 years of age. In addition, it promotes natural hair growth in men. Its involvement in the regulation of androgens allows a reduction in sebum secretion, excess sebum being responsible for the appearance of acne.