Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens), native to the Southeastern section of the United States, is a small palm tree with large red-black berries. Native Americans used this herb as a food source, eating the berries and palm hearts, and harvesting honey that bees produced from its flowers.
They also drew upon it as a remedy for a number of ailments, particularly those connected with the prostate and the urinary system. Recent studies have found Saw Palmetto to be quite effective in reducing the swelling and discomfort of the prostate; thus it is often considered to be a men's herb. However, it is also useful as a remedy for urinary conditions in both men and women, and is sometimes used as an expectorant to treat bronchitis, asthma and colds.
Because of its anti-hormonal effects, Saw Palmetto should not be used by people taking oral contraceptives or who are involved in hormone therapy. It is not recommended for women who are pregnant or lactating.