Saw palmetto may help reduce overactive bladder symptoms, such as urgency, incontinence, and increased frequency of urination.

Overactive bladder (OAB) can cause a sudden urge to urinate. In some cases, people may leak urine after having one of these urges. OAB can also cause a person to urinate more frequently — up to eight or more times a day or two or more times a night.

Saw palmetto is a palm tree native to the southeastern United States. Traditional use of saw palmetto includes treating symptoms that involve the urinary tract.

This article looks at whether saw palmetto may help with OAB and other treatment options for OAB.

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There is not yet enough research on saw palmetto for the treatment of OAB.

However, a 2020 study looked at the effects of saw palmetto fruit extract on urination issues in 44 adult men between the ages of 40 and 69, compared with a placebo.

Participants took 320 milligrams (mg) of the extract as a capsule each day for 12 weeks.

The results of the study suggested an improvement in the men’s urinary symptoms, such as urgency, frequency, incontinence, and nocturia, which is waking in the night to urinate.

A 2022 study looked at the effects of saw palmetto fruit extract on urinary symptoms in 75 female adults ages 50 and older, compared with a placebo.

All the participants had experienced frequent urination, urgency, or nocturia for a minimum of 2 months.

Participants in the saw palmetto group took 320 mg of saw palmetto berry extract in capsule form, once a day for 12 weeks.

The results showed that those in the saw palmetto group had significantly reduced frequency of daytime urination and symptoms of nocturia also improved.

The study suggests that saw palmetto may be a beneficial treatment for females with OAB.

According to the research, the effects of saw palmetto on urinary symptoms may be due to various mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory effects and relieving smooth muscle spasms.

It is best to talk with a doctor about the best way of taking saw palmetto. They can also check to make sure that it will not interact with any other medications.

Natural treatments for OAB may include lifestyle and dietary changes. People may want to keep a diary of symptoms to help identify triggers that may worsen symptoms.

People may find that certain foods and drinks irritate the bladder and worsen OAB symptoms. This may vary among people, but common triggers include:

  • caffeine and alcohol, as these increase the amount of urine the body produces
  • soda and fizzy drinks
  • certain citrus fruits
  • some spicy foods
  • tomatoes
  • chocolate

Limiting or avoiding trigger foods may help.

Foods to add to the diet to support digestion and overall health include:

  • high fiber foods, such as whole grains and oatmeal
  • fruits and vegetables
  • beans

People may find Kegel exercises helpful, which are exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and help relax the bladder muscle. People may find certain exercises can help gain better bladder control.

People can work alongside a physical therapist to make sure they are doing exercises for OAB correctly. Biofeedback is a technique that can help people better understand how the bladder muscle works.

Other natural remedies may include altering bathroom habits, such as:

  • double voiding, in which people urinate twice to better empty the bladder
  • delayed voiding, in which people wait for a period of time before using the bathroom
  • timed urination, in which people use the bathroom at set times throughout the day

There are also medical treatments available for OAB if lifestyle treatments are not effective. Medical treatments include the following:

  • anti-muscarinic medications and beta-3 agonists, which are drugs to relax the bladder muscle
  • Botox, which can relax the bladder wall and prevent it from contracting too much
  • nerve stimulation, which uses electrical pulses to improve communication between the bladder and the brain

In severe cases, people may require surgery for OAB, although this is rare. Surgical procedures for OAB include enlarging the bladder or altering the flow of urine.

This section answers some frequently asked questions about overactive bladder and saw palmetto.

Are there supplements that help with overactive bladder?

A 2019 study found that vitamin D supplements may help improve urinary symptoms of OAB, as well as mental health and quality of life. Participants also increased their calcium intake through dairy products.

What happens if you take saw palmetto every day?

According to the National Institutes of Health, most people may be able to tolerate saw palmetto well. Some people may experience digestive issues or headaches.

It does not appear to interact with other medications, but it may not be suitable for people who are pregnant, chestfeeding, or breastfeeding.

Further research, particularly in females and children, is needed to know more about the safety and side effects of saw palmetto.

What calms down an overactive bladder?

Treatments that may help calm an overactive bladder include:

  • avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • avoiding other trigger foods and drinks
  • Kegel exercises

Eating a diet high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can also support digestion and overall health.

Some research suggests that saw palmetto may help reduce OAB symptoms and reduce urgency, frequency, and incontinence.

People can talk with a doctor about which treatments may be best for managing OAB and whether any supplements may be beneficial.