How does saw palmetto benefit hair health?

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a shrub-like, small palm tree found in Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States. The fruit from this tree (saw palmetto berries) can be dried and turned into a powder or extract used for medicinal purposes. It is believed that saw palmetto can help regulate certain hormones in the body and may have anti-inflammatory properties that can have several benefits, including reducing male and female pattern baldness. One of the primary motivators for many who take saw palmetto supplements is the slowing and reversal of hair loss. Are you interested in learning more? Here’s everything you need to know about this herbal supplement.

What is male and female pattern baldness?

Male and female pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is a common condition that becomes more prevalent as we age. In women, thinning hair typically occurs all over the scalp, while men usually experience an M-shape pattern of hair loss.

Androgenetic alopecia is caused by testosterone (an androgen hormone) and its conversion into a dihydrotestosterone or DHT molecule. High levels of androgens, including DHT, can shorten the hair’s growth cycle and shrink the hair follicles. This results in brittle, thin hair that is more susceptible to falling out. These androgen imbalances can also make it harder for your follicles to grow new hairs once they have fallen out.

How can Saw palmetto help with androgenic alopecia?

Serenoa repens contains phytosterols and flavonoids that have anti-androgenic activity. They can help in two ways: the first one by blocking the receptors for DHT and androstenediol in the hair follicle cells, and the second through the inhibition of 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone into DHT, which, as mentioned above, has a significant impact on hair loss and thinning. Saw palmetto is thought to block this conversion, preventing the absorption of high levels of DHT in the body.

What do other benefits saw palmetto have for hair health?

While the primary purpose for using saw palmetto is often to prevent hair loss, it can provide several other benefits to ensure your locks are healthy and luscious.

  • Strengthens the hair
    Evidence supports that saw palmetto can strengthen the hair follicle to help the hair become stronger and thicker.

  • Fights inflammation
    Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, saw palmetto can reduce scalp inflammation, leading to many conditions such as eczema, dandruff, acne, and hair loss. By reducing inflammation, you’re improving the overall health of the scalp.

  • Promotes hair growth
    A reduction in inflammation means promoting new hair growth and reduced hair fall.

How effective is saw palmetto on androgenetic hair loss?

A few studies have shown hair regrowth using oral and topical SP-containing products. Improvement in total hair count was seen up to to 27%, increased hair density in up to 83.3%, 60% improvement in hair quality, and reduced hair shedding in 52%. Another study compared the effectiveness of oral saw palmetto (Serona repens) to finasteride (Propecia) on male pattern hair loss. The study showed hair regrowth in 68% of men that took finasteride and 38% of men that were on the saw palmetto, the plant-based alternative. The authors conclude that Serenoa repens (Saw palmetto) could be considered a valid approach in treating low or moderate androgenetic male pattern alopecia, and a good alternative for patients with finasteride or other topical therapies cannot be used. Another study reported that taking a daily dose of saw palmetto combined with another plant compound reduced hair loss in 60% of men with androgenic alopecia. The effects of saw palmetto on androgenic hair loss can be related to its anti-androgenic effect and to β-sitosterol that stimulates vascular endothelial growth factor in vitro and promote blood flow circulation to the hair follicles.

How effective is saw palmetto on androgenetic hair loss?

In addition to its anti-androgenic effects lab, it is believed that saw palmetto is also a potent anti-inflammatory. Laboratory studies have shown that saw palmetto inhibits inflammatory gene expression in human keratinocytes, suggesting a possible effect on inflammation-related sudden hair sending (telogen effluvium).

Several human studies have demonstrated modest hair regrowth using oral and topical SP-containing products among patients with AGA, FPHL, TE, and self-perceived hair thinning. Improvement in total hair count ranging from 3.4 to 27% [18, 29], increased hair density in up to 83.3% of patients [24], 60% improvement in overall hair quality [19], and stabilized disease progression among 52% of patients [20] was noted with the use of various SP-containing oral supplements, topical lotions, and/or serums.

How should I use saw palmetto to improve hair health?

This beneficial ingredient can be taken in a capsule, liquid, or powder form and is often combined with other natural hair supplements.

Saw palmetto as an oral supplement: When taken orally, saw palmetto can work internally as a DHT-blocker to reduce hair loss and inflammation. When looking at hair growth supplements, look at the ingredients label to ensure that saw palmetto is high on the list. You can purchase supplements in many natural-food stores, drug stores, or herbal apothecaries, available in soft gel, tablet, and capsule form.

  • Saw palmetto in a shampoo and conditioner: A few shampoos and conditioners contain saw palmetto. While it is beneficial to the scalp, it will be less effective than treating the scalp with a topical solution that stays on the scalp for several hours.

  • Saw palmetto as a restorative hair treatment: Saw palmetto extract can be a powerful addition to your next hair treatment and is the more potent topical treatment option. Often, treatments stay on the scalp for much longer than shampoos so that you will ensure better absorption. Remember, it’s essential to treat the scalp, not the hair shafts, for improving hair growth. Add some saw palmetto into your next mask or leave-in treatment to keep the scalp and hair balanced and happy.

Are there any side effects to using saw palmetto for hair loss?

There are known effects for using saw palmetto topically in scalp serums or shampoos. Taking saw palmetto orally can be associated in rare cases, with mild side effects (mild headache, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea). In men, saw palmetto may reduce PSA levels by 50% after 6 - 12 months of treatment. There is, therefore, a need for men to report taking saw palmetto to their family physician.

Customized hair treatment supplements with Saw palmetto
Customized hair scalp treatment serum with saw palmetto
Customized hair treatment shampoo with saw palmetto
Customized hair treatment conditioner with saw palmetto


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