The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    The STEP report on saw palmetto safety

    STEP stands for “Saw palmetto for Treatment of Enlarged Prostates.”

    Saw palmetto is among the top 10 herbal/supplements. Men with lower-urinary tract symptoms commonly use it.

    First, the details.

    • 225 men with moderate-to-severe symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia were studied.
    • Standardized extract of the saw palmetto berry (160 mg twice daily) was compared to placebo over 1 year.
    • Adverse events, sexual function, and laboratory tests of blood and urine were monitored.

    And, the results.

    • There were no significant differences between the saw palmetto and placebo in the risk of having at least one serious side effect (5% vs 10%, respectively).
    • Non-serious symptomatic side effects were 35% vs 30% with saw palmetto and placebo, respectively.
    • There were few significant differences between groups in sexual functioning or in most laboratory values.
    • There were statistically significant but small differences in total bilirubin, potassium, and the incidence of sugar in the urine (0% with saw palmetto vs 3.7% with placebo).

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded there was “no evidence for serious toxicity of saw palmetto…; however, these data do not rule out potential rare adverse effects.”

    Aside from the importance of defining the safety of supplements, the results have political implications. Almost 2 years ago, the Danish Ministry for Family and Consumer Affairs prohibited food supplements containing saw palmetto because, in part, of concerns about a lack of safety information during long-term use. has reviewed the uses and safety of saw palmetto.

    4/23/08 19:45 JR

    Leave a Comment

    You must be logged in to post a comment.