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The approach you take largely depends on your doctor’s attitude to herbal remedies, which can roughly, be divided into three:
- I believe that herbal medicines have a role to play in our modern healthcare system
- I am sceptical about herbal medicines. I don’t know much about it, but I have an open mind and happy to discuss this with you.
- I think that herbal medicines are a load of rubbish and you should not waste your money
Doctors who believe that herbal and complementary medicines have a role to play in our modern healthcare system take this view either through personal experience or the experience of their patients.
Many will have had patients reporting positive results from using Saw Palmetto, read about the herb and the research evidence behind it. Some may also actively recommend herbal remedies.
You should have no trouble discussing Saw Palmetto with this group of doctors:
This group of doctors will not have a fixed opinion of the role and benefits of herbal medicine and try to keep an open mind.
These doctors may admit that they don’t know much about herbs but are open to receiving more information. If asked, they will usually take the attitude that if a patient wishes to try a herbal product, if it does no harm and if he feels that it is helping, then there is no harm in doing so.
When discussing the use of Saw Palmetto with this group of doctors, remember that their position is usually the result of a lack of knowledge and experience, and that they hold their view because, by sticking to what they know, they will do their professional best for their patients:
- Tell your doctor that you would like to try a licensed Saw Palmetto product
- If your doctor needs more time to evaluate the product, make another appointment to go back in a week or so.
This is a position that some healthcare professionals in Canada take. There may well be personal and professional reasons for your doctor adopting and defending this view, and it is unlikely that anything you can say or do will change the opinion.
If there is a more sympathetic doctor in the practice, try making an appointment with him or her. Discuss your intentions openly and ask their opinion.
In the end, it could be that you may have to ‘give-up’ and accept their position and advice. The last thing you should do is to jeopardize the relationship with your doctors.
If you still wish to try Saw Palmetto, you can do so if:
- You have had the diagnosis of enlarged prostate confirmed by your doctor
- You have not been prescribed a prostate medicine by your doctor
Remember to read the leaflet before taking the medicine.
In Canada, very few doctors would actively recommend that their patients use herbal remedies. Yet, in Europe, especially Germany and Switzerland, doctors routinely prescribe herbal medicines such as Saw Palmetto to help treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
Why does this difference exist? It cannot just be because of medical science or proof of effectiveness – this would mean that doctors in Switzerland or Germany are happy to prescribe a medicine which (in the view of Canadian doctors) has no proof that it works!
The answer, in our opinion, is that doctors are just people and are influenced by their personal and professional experiences, and what people around them think and do.
In Canada, few pharmacy or medical schools discuss nutrition or complementary therapies, including herbal medicine. This means that unless they have a personal interest, healthcare professionals have little exposure to the science behind herbs and the part they can play in patient care.