Learn how saw palmetto may help with hair loss, what dose is normally used, the potential side effects, and what the studies say.
Using the berries of a native beachy Florida plant to help with your hair loss may seem like a crazy idea. But, the berries of the saw palmetto plant have been used historically by Native Americans for various medicinal purposes -- including hair concerns.
So, can this palm-like plant actually give you the hair growth boost you have been looking for, or is it best to stick with the prescription options?
Below, we will cover the basics of saw palmetto, including how it may work for hair loss, what dose is commonly used, what side effects you may experience, and what the studies say about saw palmetto for hair loss.
The potential benefits of hair loss with saw palmetto stem from its capacity to function as a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. And, if that term sounds familiar, it is because the only currently FDA-approved male pattern hair loss prescription medication, Finasteride, is also a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor.
5-alpha reductase inhibitors help with hair loss and potential regrowth because they block the enzyme (5-alpha reductase) which is responsible for converting some of the testosterone in your body into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a known culprit in male and female pattern hair loss, and it can lead to hair loss by damaging the hair follicles and causing them to produce thinner and shorter hairs over time, which may eventually lead to the loss of the hair altogether.
But, just because saw palmetto is also a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, it does not mean that it definitely functions just as well or better than Finasteride. Saw palmetto is a competitive non-selective inhibitor of 5-alpha reductase type 1 and 2, and Finasteride is a highly selective inhibitor of type 2 5-alpha reductase. These differences may affect just how well they work for hair loss.
Most studies that have looked into saw palmetto, whether they were targeting hair loss or prostate issues, normally use a dose of 320 mg by mouth daily. Sometimes the dose is taken all at once, and sometimes the dose is taken as 160 mg twice daily.
There is no set or confirmed dosage of saw palmetto for hair loss, as it is not an FDA-approved medication and very few studies have been done on saw palmetto for hair loss. So, if you are planning on using saw palmetto for hair loss, follow the instructions on your package, ask your doctor, or stick close to the dosages used in studies.
Saw palmetto appears to be a pretty well-tolerated supplement, although some people experience stomach upset or GI issues when using the supplement.
You may be able to reduce stomach issues by taking the supplement with a meal.
Saw palmetto may cause blood thinning and should be avoided in people who are taking over-the-counter or prescription blood thinners like aspirin or warfarin.
Saw palmetto may also cause prostate PSA levels to drop, which may lead to a doctor missing a diagnosis of prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate. You should let your doctor know that you are taking saw palmetto so that they can take that into consideration during a prostate exam.
Saw palmetto may have hormonal interactions and may interfere with the effectiveness of hormonal birth controls.
As with all supplements, speak with your doctor before starting on something new to make sure it is ok for you to use.
One 2012 head-to-head study had 100 men take either 320 mg of saw palmetto or 1 mg of Finasteride by mouth every day for a year and then compared the photographic results to see if there were hair growth improvements.
In the saw palmetto group, 38% of the men demonstrated an improvement in their hair, while in the Finasteride group 68% had hair improvements. It should also be noted that the Finasteride group showed hair regrowth of the vertex of the head as well as the frontal hairline, while the saw palmetto group mainly had improvements on the vertex.
More studies need to be done to conclusively demonstrate that saw palmetto can help with male pattern hair loss, but this study suggests that it may deliver some improvement, although maybe not as much as prescription Finasteride.
You can have a free online questionnaire and image-based online consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today to see if these prescription treatments are a good choice for you. If you are a good candidate for treatment, your prescription medication can be sent to your front door with our free shipping.