Have you heard of this herb? It’s widely used by men for prostate health. I took it daily for years in the hopes of forestalling the growth of my prostate, a condition faced by more than half of men over 50. Unfortunately, in that battle, the prostate won, and I had to seek other remedies—first, medications to relax the muscles around the prostate and supposedly to shrink it. Again, unfortunately, the prostate won.
Last September, I resorted to surgery, and it was a success. The prostate, which had grown nearly three-times its normal size, was trimmed down and all the annoying symptoms – along with the temporary catheters – vanished. I no longer needed any medications or saw palmetto – though I guess it wouldn’t hurt to continue taking it. But I wasn’t too happy with saw palmetto, and admit that I had bad-mouthed the natural remedy as bogus. Even a scam. I figured I was done with it.
But not so fast. Last week, my friend Don and I went on an early morning off-road bike ride on a trail an hour north of here. I’d only ridden it once and that was years ago. The trail was relatively easy, especially compared to our local technical trail with numerous log piles, criss-crossing root pattern, steep drops and sharp turns along tight trails through heavy woods.
We’d been riding nearly an hour when we crossed a narrow wooden bridge over a creek. Don was ahead of me and had disappeared around a bend as I came off the bridge. I swerved to avoid a mud puddle and paid for the move. I was slammed down into something sharp and prickly. As I slowly got to my feet, I looked back and saw that I’d crashed into a patch of saw palmetto.
I didn’t see the irony, though, until a few days later when a friend, upon hearing the story, replied, “I thought saw palmetto was good for men.” Maybe for some, but not for me. A broken stem about the size of six toothpicks had pierced through the top of my ear. Don, a retired paramedic/fire fighter, pulled it out and I stopped the bleeding with a kerchief. We continued on, but I knew I’d bruised a rib or two and that I would feel it more after we finished.
Back at home, I cleaned the ear and found another splinter, shaped like an arrowhead, wedged into the top of the ear. I couldn’t get it out, neither could Trish, so I ended up at a walk-in clinic. I’d been there before, back when I was realizing the saw palmetto formula wasn’t working for me.
So much for my encounters with this prickly plant. I don’t know if I’ll take any more of the herb, but I will definitely respect it when I encounter it again along the trail.