AUSTIN, Texas (October 11, 2018) — The American Botanical Council (ABC) welcomes Valensa’s adoption of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) through ABC’s Adopt-an-Herb botanical education program.
Valensa’s adoption supports ABC’s extensive HerbMedPro database, ensuring that this essential educational resource remains up to date for researchers, health professionals, industry members, students, consumers, and other members of the herbal and dietary supplements and natural medicine communities.
HerbMedPro is a comprehensive, interactive online database that provides access to important scientific and clinical research data on the uses and health effects of more than 250 herbs, spices, and medicinal plants.
“Saw palmetto is an important botanical with extensive scientific and clinical literature supporting its use,” wrote Umasudhan C.P., president and CEO of Valensa. “Specifically, the oil from the ripe saw palmetto berry is extracted to obtain a nutraceutical that has proven benefits in the management of lower urinary tract symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.
“Valensa is committed to creating the highest quality, effective nutraceuticals, and is proud to be a world leader in producing saw palmetto extract, obtained using our sustainable wild-harvest practices and clean supercritical CO2 extraction process,” Umasudhan continued. “ABC is providing a valuable service by helping industry and consumers access scientifically accurate and relevant information regarding the efficacy of saw palmetto and the quality differences that can exist in marketed products.”
Saw palmetto dietary supplements ranked 11th in total sales in natural foods stores in the United States in 2017 and 14th in the mainstream retail channel, according to ABC’s annual HerbalGram Herb Market Report for 2017. Retail sales for saw palmetto supplements in these two market channels totaled almost $30 million.
Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC, said: “ABC is deeply grateful to our good friends at Valensa for their adoption of saw palmetto on ABC’s HerbMedPro database. Valensa’s adoption allows ABC to be able to provide its members with up-to-date information on this economically important medicinal plant.”
About Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is the only member of the genus Serenoa and the most common palm in the United States, where it is endemic to coastal states from South Carolina to Louisiana and occurs in every county in Florida. It is a hardy perennial that usually is found as a two-to-seven-foot shrub, but can grow as a tree up to 25 feet tall, depending on the habitat.
As a shrub, it is more common in scrublands. As a tree, it is more common in uplands and maritime hammocks (i.e., narrow bands of forest that develop on stabilized backdunes of barrier islands). The species is considered a survivor species due to its ability to recover quickly from fire.
The plant’s petioles (which bear the rounded, palmate, or fan-shaped, leaves that each include about 20 leaflets) are lined with sharp spines or teeth, hence the common name “saw.” “Palmetto” is a Spanish derivative that owes to the plant’s small size. The species name repens is Latin for “creeping” or “prostrate.”
The stems usually are subterranean or prostrate. By using estimates of their growth rate, it has been determined that some plants could be 500 to 700 years old. The fragrant, yellowish-white, insect-pollinated flowers are followed by the fruits (drupes) that ripen from about September through October. Many migrant harvesters in Florida rely on the fruits for income between tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and citrus (Citrus spp.) seasons.
Saw palmetto fruit extracts contain fatty acids and phytosterols and are popular for addressing symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate, which can include urinary problems. These extracts may have anti-androgenic, anti-edema, anti-exudative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-proliferative effects.
In Florida, saw palmetto may have been one of the most important food sources for pre-Columbian peoples, for the later Seminole and Miccosukee tribes, and then for settlers like the Spanish. Saw palmetto, sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera), and cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco) are all common at archaeological sites across Florida. Native Americans also used saw palmetto fruits medicinally, including as a diuretic and for prostate problems. Pioneers used the fruits to make soft drinks as late as the early 1900s. Various plant parts have been used as a source of fiber, oil, wax, roof thatch, paper, and cork substitute.
Saw palmetto is ecologically important. It provides cover for various animals, including the threatened Florida scrub jay and grasshopper sparrow. The fruit provides food for white-tailed deer, foxes, gopher tortoises, black bears, and other animals. In addition, bees use the nectar to make honey.
According to the Florida Farm Bureau, “widespread gathering of [saw palmetto] berries is depleting a wildlife food source and threatening the stability of some ecosystems.” As such, saw palmetto has been added to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ list of commercially exploited plants. As of July 2018, harvesters must have a Native Plant Harvesting Permit to harvest saw palmetto fruit on public or private land.
Established in 1999 and headquartered in Eustis, Florida, Valensa is a science-based discoverer, developer, and provider of “innovative, nature-based product formulations for human health,” according to its website. It specializes in condition-specific formulations that use microalgae, botanicals, and compounds that appear to have specific health benefits. The company focuses on nutraceutical supplements, functional foods, general nutrition, functional cosmetic ingredients, and pharmaceutical formulations. It also supports sustainable harvesting practices, environmentally friendly manufacturing technologies, and fair labor practices for people who are involved in the production process.
About Adopt-an-Herb and HerbMedPro
Valensa is one of 57 United States and international companies that have supported ABC’s educational efforts to collect, organize, and disseminate reliable, traditional, and science-based information, including clinical studies, on herbs, medicinal plants, and other botanical- and fungal-based ingredients through the Adopt-an-Herb program. This program encourages companies, organizations, and individuals to “adopt” one or more specific herbs for inclusion and ongoing maintenance in the HerbMedPro database. To date, 63 herbs have been adopted.
Each adopted herb is continuously researched for new scientific articles and pharmacological, toxicological, and clinical studies, ensuring that its HerbMedPro record stays current and robust. Access to the studies is conveniently organized by publication type, with each study condensed to a one-sentence summary with a link to the study’s official abstract on PubMed (the US National Library of Medicine’s free-access database) or other publicly accessible database.
HerbMedPro is available to ABC members at the Academic level and higher. Its “sister” site, HerbMed, is available to the general public at no cost, with access to 25-30 herb records from the larger HerbMedPro database of more than 250 herbs. In keeping with ABC’s position as an independent research and education organization, herb adopters do not influence the scientific information that is compiled for their respective adopted herbs.