Sabal. U. S.
Sabal [Saw Palmetto, Saw Palmetto Berries]
"The partially dried, ripe fruit of Serenoa serrulata (Michaux) Hooker filius (Fam. Palmae). Preserve Sabal in tightly-closed containers, adding a few drops of chloroform or carbon tetrachloride, from time to time, to prevent attack by insects." U. S.
The Saw palmetto flourishes on the Atlantic coast from South Carolina to Florida, where it forms the so-called "palmetto scrub." According to Sehneider it is also found in southern portions of California. (Pacific Pharm., ii, p. 466.) It was introduced into medicine in 1879. (Bull. Lloyd Library, 1911, No. 18, p. 71.) The stem of saw palmetto is from 6 to 10 feet high, has a crown of large leave's, long petioled, with a circular fan-shaped leaf blade split at the edge into from 15 to 30 divisions, which are slightly cleft at their apices. The fruit is a onesided blackish-brown drupe, from half an inch to one inch long; ovoid-oblong in shape, with a somewhat wrinkled exterior, and a sweetish, not agreeable taste. It occurs in a large panicle which in, some cases may weigh as much as nine pounds.
Properties.—Sabal is officially described as follows: "Ellipsoidal or ovoid, occasionally compressed, from 1.5 to 3 cm. in length and from 1 to 1.5 cm. in diameter; externally brownish-black to bluish-black, smooth and somewhat oily, with a few large, more or less angular depressions due to the contraction of the inner layer on drying, summit marked by the scar of the style, and the base either with a short stalk or stem-scar; epicarp and sarcocarp together forming a thin coriaceous shell enclosing a hard but thin endocarp, which is externally reddish-brown and somewhat fibrous as is also the inner layer of the sarcocarp; inner layer of endocarp smooth, enclosing a hard, ellipsoidal or ovoid, somewhat flattened, reddish-brown seed; odor pronounced, aromatic; taste sweetish, aromatic, slightly acrid. The powder is yellowish-brown; when examined under the microscope it exhibits large, irregular fragments; parenchyma cells of sarcocarp containing a yellowish-brown or brownish-red, amorphous substance; whitish fragments of endosperm; the' walls being considerably thickened and with large pores; stone cells occasional, nearly colorless, more or less tabular or irregular in shape, about 0.125 mm. in length, walls about 0.015 mm. in thickness, and with numerous simple or branching pores." U. S.
Kraemer gives an illustrated article on the pharmacognosy of the saw palmetto in the Practical Druggist, 1910, xxviii, p. 97. In it Coblentz (Proc. New Jersey Pharm. Assoc., 1895, 45) believes that he found, besides a volatile oil an alkaloid. In the studies of Sherman and Briggs (Ph. Archiv., vol. 2) no alkaloid could be detected. Sieker (Ph. Rev., 1897, 113) examined the fixed oil: the sp. gr. was 0.9138, and it was soluble in alcohol, ether, and petroleum benzin. By pressure the fruit yields about 11/2 per cent. of a brownish-yellow to dark red oil, soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform and benzene, and partly soluble in dilute solution of potassium hydroxide. It contains, according to Sherman and Briggs (Ph. Archiv., 1899,101; see also Ph. Rev., 1900, 217), about 63 per cent. of free acids, and 37 per cent. of ethyl esters of these acids. The oil obtained exclusively from the nut was thick and of a greenish color, without fruity odor. It was a glyceride of fatty acids.
Yanderkleed and Ewe (Proc. P. Ph. A., 1916, p. 284) contribute formulas for syrup of sabal and elixir of sabal with terpin hydrate. The latter is made as follows:
Dissolve 1.75 Gm. of terpin hydrate in 40 mils of fluidextract of sabal and 10 mils of alcohol. Add 1 mil of tincture of sweet orange peel, 0.2 mil of solution of saccharin, 40 mils of glycerin, and 100 mils of syrup. This preparation will contain 8 grains of terpin hydrate and 184 grains of sabal in each fluidounce.
Uses.—The oil of saw palmetto is probably eliminated through the kidneys unchanged, although we know of no actual experiments to prove this, and appears to exert a stimulant alterative action upon the mucous membrane of the genito-urinary tract, similar to that of other alterative diuretics. Saw palmetto is milder and less stimulant than is cubeb or copaiba, or even the oil of sandal-wood. Like these drugs it also has the power of affecting the respiratory mucous membrane, so that it has been used not only in chronic and sub-acute cystitis, but also in chronic bronchitis, laryngitis, and the catarrhs which accompany asthma, phthisis, and other more serious diseases of the lungs. It has been affirmed that saw palmetto is capable of increasing the nutrition of the testicles and of the mammae in functional atony of these organs, but this is very doubtful. It has been especially recommended in cases of enlarged prostate of old men; it is not probable that it has a direct influence upon the prostatic gland itself but there is much clinical testimony as to its value and it probably acts by reducing the catarrhal irritation and the relaxed condition of the mucous membrane of the bladder and urethra, which are almost universally present in prostatic hypertrophy.
Dose, ten to twenty grains (0.65-1.3 Gm.).
Off. Prep.—Fluidextractum Sabal, U. S.; Tinctura Sabal et Santali, N. F.
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.