Saw Palmetto.... It sounds more like sequel to "Kill Bill" than a plant. Ha Ha... All humour aside, Saw Palmetto (latin name, Serenoa repens, is a botanical (plant) product of the herb category, and grows in places such as the southeastern parts of the United States. This small palm tree produces berries in which a few medicinal products are extracted. It is suggested that this plant can help maintain a healthy prostate.
Before we discuss saw palmetto, let's discuss the prostate. The prostate is a "walnut" sized gland comprising part of the male genito-urinay tract/ reproductive tract (whichever way you want to look at it). The prostate produces a few an substance that mixes with sperm for ejaculation. Fluid produced in the prostate is thin, milky and alkaline (neutralizes acid), and contains citrate, calcium, phosphates, and a few other substances. This fluid probably helps to neutralize the acid environment of the female vagina during fertilization. Other than this, the prostate has no other functionn. The relevance of the prostate and its pathology (disease) potential is that since the prostate encircles a portion of the urethra (the tube for conducting urine from the bladder to the tip of the penis), and if the prostate happens to enlarge, it can constrict the urethra and hence, obstruct the flow of urine. The obstruction of urine flow is annoying, but not as relevant as the fact that an enlarged prostate has the potential to turn malignant (cancerous). In most men, the prostate enlarges slowly over time anyway. This does not mean that you are going to develop a problem, but there is a risk. Just as women have the risk of cervical cancer, we men have our risks as well. As a man ages, he can have his prostate checked quite easily by his local GP or doctor. This involves the doctor simple placing his finger into the rectum and feeling for an enlarged prostate. If the prostate seems to be enlarged, then blood tests can be given to check for certain risk "markers" such as PSA (prostate specific antigen). And of course, if it is caught early, either pharmacological (drug) or surgical measures can sort out the problem before it becomes a serious threat.
Back to the saw palmetto.... Keep in mind that although that it is suggested that saw palmetto can help maintain a healthy prostate, it cannot cure an enlarged prostate or a diseased prostate. It may help to maintain, but it is always wise to have a periodic review of your prostate with your doctor. Remember, the prostate enlarges over time by stimulation from the hormone called testosterone (produced in the testes). In fact, a man who has surgery to remove the testicles will not develop an enlarged prostate, and will not lose his hair as well, since testosterone can cause hair loss in a proportion of individuals. Did you know that even females produce some testosterone, although only a fraction that males produce. But in saw palmetto's defence, it may help to improve symptoms after an infection. Saw palmetto may also slightly reduce the size of the prostate in certain individuals. Like all remedies, some people respond better than others. However, antibiotics for the infection (and of course, diagnosis of the infection) must be done and given by your doctor if this is the case. Saw palmetto may also reduce the size of the prostate. It may do this by interfering with the stimlation of testosterone or other hormonal effects. The drugs that are used to treat BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia, basically non-malignant swelling of the prostate) interfere with testosterone and hence, its effect on the prostate.
Saw palmetto can be obtained from many companies who market this plant as a maintainer of the prostate. Note that different companies will include different additional components as well. For example, some companies may sell saw palmetto, mixed with antioxidants, vitamins, etc. This of course, is with the logic that overall, these mixtures can contribute to the general maintenance of the prostate.