It’s a question we have received many times and one that many people seek the answer to: Can you use saw palmetto for hair loss? Is it a myth or is this supplement actually beneficial to help you retain those luscious locks?
What is Saw Palmetto
To understand whether you can effectively use saw palmetto for hair loss we first have to understand just what saw palmetto is. It is a substance that some of you will have heard of, a substance that some of you may have even used. But it’s typically not included in common multi-vitamins and is considered to be somewhat of a specialist extract.
Put simply, saw palmetto is a fruit-bearing plant. And it is from this fruit that we get the saw palmetto extract. This extract is perhaps more commonly used to treat prostate problems, including infections. It has also gained a following in the bodybuilding community, with supplement and steroid users taking it to support their prostate while using other substances.
Saw palmetto can also be used for colds, coughs and other common ailments. There is also suggestions that it can be used as a muscle relaxant. Although its effectiveness in such cases is not as widely studied. What we do know for sure is that saw palmetto seems to have a positive effect on people with prostate problems. Studies suggest that it works by shrinking the inner lining of the prostate. This is what puts pressure on the bladder and the tubes that lead from the bladder, which is why saw palmetto can help to make life easier and more comfortable for men with such problems.
Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss
Of course, we’re not here to ease your nightly trips to the toilet. We’re here to discuss baldness and the role that saw palmetto can play in curing it. As discussed below, very few studies have actually been conducted on saw palmetto for hair loss. But those studies have been promising, as have the effects.
Saw palmetto has been proven to be very effective at stopping hair loss in those suffering from alopecia, male pattern baldness and similar concerns. The effects seem to be more positive in men suffering from thinning hair and receding hairlines, but this may simply be because men are typically the target group for saw palmetto studies.
Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss Research
It’s not entirely clear how saw palmetto works, but it seems to work by blocking the production of DHT. It does this by limiting the production of 5-alpha-reductase, which is converted to DHT. We know that an increase in DHT correlates to an increased loss of hair. This is essentially the same way that saw palmetto works on the prostate, as DHT can enlarge the prostate.
Many of the saw palmetto for hair loss studies seem to be a byproduct of studies done on saw palmetto’s effect on the prostate. However, a number of studies have been conducted focusing purely on saw palmetto benefits in those suffering from hair loss. All of these studies have reported some positive benefits, and some of them have reported drastic improvements in hair growth in as many as half of the participants.
Of course, these studies target different demographics, they focus on people with different genetics and needs, and they use different doses. Saw palmetto for hair loss studies have also been relatively small to date, with some using just 10 or fewer participants.
Until those numbers increase and until we get some uniformity, it’s unlikely that we’ll know for certain whether saw palmetto is effective for hair loss. However, this is a relatively safe supplement, so if you’re struggling with hair loss and want to build an effective hair loss vitamin to take everyday, then there’s no reason why you can’t include saw palmetto.
Saw Palmetto for Hair Growth
If the theory on DHT is true, and if saw palmetto works for hair loss by keeping this hormone to a minimum, then it is unlikely to have any sort of effect on hair growth. No major studies have been conducted on saw palmetto and its effects on hair growth. However, based on what we know about this supplement, as well as the studies that have been done on saw palmetto in hair loss, we can assume that it has no positive effect on hair growth.
Saw palmetto’s benefits have actually been compared to the medication Finasteride, which can be used to promote hair growth and to limit hair loss. Studies suggest that saw palmetto probably isn’t as effective, but it may come with fewer unpleasant side effects. Finesteride, like saw palmetto, can also help with prostate problems and works in a similar way.
Just make sure that you don’t take these two medications together and that you avoid taking any other OTC medications alongside saw palmetto without consulting your doctor first.
Where to Find Saw Palmetto
You can buy saw palmetto as dried berries and extracts. The extracts provide more potency and should be able to give you the dose you need without having to consume too many dried berries. The extracts will also give you greater control over your dosage.
The easiest way to consume saw palmetto is just to take it as a tablet, preferably with food. It should be consumed twice a day, and you should consult with your doctor before getting started. There are very few side effects to saw palmetto. However, everyone responds differently and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
This is especially true if you are pregnant or if you have any prior medical conditions. Some of the side effects of saw palmetto include a thinning of the blood much like aspirin. This may cause complications during surgery and means it should also be avoided for anyone with problems of the blood or the heart.
Although rare, one of the other side effects of saw palmetto is stomach pain, headache and other general discomfort. These are generally well tolerated by users and they typically only present during the early stages. However, if you do experience any side effects, regardless of how minor they are, you should consult your doctor to make sure everything is in order.