Saw palmetto is a plant that was originally used by Native Americans to treat ailments. It produces small berries which is what is found in most supplements.
There is research that shows this plant can help with an enlarged prostate. This is similar to the way the drug Propecia works, which was also originally intended to treat an enlarged prostate.
Does it work?
This herbal supplement works in much the same way as the drug Propecia does, except that obviously it’s 100% natural so there are less side-effects generally associated with its use.
The mechanism of action is inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. 5-alpha-reductase converts testosterone to DHT, which is generally accepted as the hormones responsible for pattern baldness.
There is still debate around how effective saw palmetto is at preventing further hair loss and no conclusive studies have been undertaken. A small study did show positive results in 6 out of ten subjects.
You can download a PDF file of that study here if you’re interested. The caveat of this study is that the men were asked to rate how their hair loss had improved after a few months taking the herb orally – No empirical checks were taken, such as a hair count.
Is there any medical evidence?
It is more difficult to conduct reliable studies on the effectiveness of saw palmetto for MPB, one of the reasons is that no one in particular wants to fund the studies.
Merck (the company that makes Propecia) will happily fund a study on the drug, since they have the patent on the drug, so proving its effectiveness will certainly have an return on investment for them.
However, proving saw palmettos effectiveness won’t benefit any one company in particular.
A study from 2000 featured the use of saw palmetto for hair loss and the conclusion can be taken as encouraging.
The main point I think from these studies is that the herb can be effective for hair growth, but one needs to take a double pronged approach to solving the problem.
The 5-alpha-reducatse inhibiting properties can be applied both orally and topically. This means taking supplements consistently and using it as a solution for the scalp. This is a very in depth article about how to naturally remove DHT from the scalp.
Saw Palmetto Dosage
Saw palmetto comes in many different forms, and considering the point above you may want to consider a few of the options:
- powder capsules
- dried whole berries
- liquid extracts
In the first study mentioned the subjects took 200 milligrams twice daily, which is quite a large dosage. Something that I think it very important to remember when taking supplements is that everybodys digestive system will absorb the herb differently.
For example, many of us have guts that are coated in undigested matter. This comes from a modern diet lacking in fibre, and the over-consumption of processed foods that are devoid of enzymes.
Dairy, grains (which irritate the lining of the GI tract) and red meats all contribute to a gut that will have a hard time processing the foods and extracting the active ingredients from any supplements you take.
I would personally recommend a slightly different approach then simply taking saw palmetto straight away.
This would involve at least a few days of a juice fast detox where you refrain from eating any foods and only drink freshly made vegetable juice.
If you’re serious you can even try colonic irrigation and maybe you’ll experience ‘first hand’ the truly amazing amount of waste and sludge that is lining the digestive system. (Well, have to ever felt bloated, constipated, brain-fogged or tired?) This could be one of the reasons.
Psyllium husk can also be used during the detox to provide fibrous bulk that effectively sweeps the colon out. Talk about feeling like kid with endless energy again!!
The main point is that no herbal supplement will ever be effective if you’re body can’t use the ingredients contained within it through a healthy and effective digestive system. Go from there.
Saw Palmetto Side Effects
Although saw palmetto is generally considered to be safe, people have reported a few side-effects of taking it. The most commonly heard one is that is can cause an upset stomach.
This isn’t something you should worry about since it either happens or it doesn’t and can be avoided by taking it with food.
Saw palmetto does interact with your body on a hormonal level (albeit naturally, unlike finasteride) so you should pay attention to how your body feels in the following few days and weeks when you start. Always consult a doctor if you do decide to take it. (I am not a doctor btw.)
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Saw palmetto may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.
The tannins in the supplement can supposedly affect iron absorption, leading to iron (ferritin) deficiency, so you might consider taking an iron supplement as well or being sure to eat foods high in iron such as liver, sunflower seeds, nuts, beef, lamb, beans, whole grains, clams, dark leafy greens to counteract the lack of absorption.
Are there any alternatives?
Are there complimentary supplements for saw palmetto? Yes, there are certainly other supplements that you should take as well, and other things you should be doing to help with hair loss.
In fact, that’s why this website is here. I teach you how I personally cured my hair loss using natural methods and how you can do the same.
As a side-note, I wrote an in-depth article about the best natural DHT blocker here, although it’s probably not what you’re expecting, the overall approach is incredibly effective.
How much does it cost?
You can find saw palmetto relatively cheaply on Amazon. I would recommend browsing the reviews and picking one that you like. I could give my own recommendation but it may change by the time you read this so it’s better to do have a look yourself.
Saw palmetto isn’t a hair loss breakthrough, but it may help to reduce DHT both orally and topically when used consistently. There are studies that show it is no more effective than a placebo, and studies that have promising results.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that supplements should only form a small part of defence against pattern baldness.
Is Your Hair Loss Reversible?