Before discussing how Saw Palmetto is effective for hair loss, let us discuss some general types of hair loss commonly observed in both men and women like androgenetic alopecia.
What is Androgenetic Alopecia?
In a general sense, androgenetic alopecia is the hair loss observed in both men and women as they get older. This basically happens because the hormone testosterone gets converted into a particle called DHT. This conversion triggers hair follicles to shrink, which in turn results in hair loss. Testosterone is a male sex hormone and so men tend to have more testosterone when compared to women. This is exactly why men are more prone to balding than women.
Typically, in most cases, an M-shaped pattern and thinning of hair can be observed at the temple of many men as they age. This is known as male pattern baldness. In case of women, this thinning is observed almost all over their scalp but it rarely leads to complete baldness.
How is Saw palmetto beneficial for hair loss?
As you know, there are several treatments for hair loss. Even hair extensions and hair pieces which can be placed on your scalp to hide your hair loss have gained popularity recently. Other popular methods used to treat hair loss include oral drugs and topical medications. Some people also consider surgical procedures for treating their hair loss. But both medications and surgical procedures have certain disadvantages. For example, surgeries can be expensive and medications can have various side effects.
This is where the need for an alternative remedy to treat hair loss like Saw palmetto is felt. It not only helps to slow down hair fallout but also helps in re-growing hair.
Saw palmetto is basically a plant which has small berries. Many Native Americans have been using Saw Palmetto as food and medicine for centuries. There is scientific evidence to prove that apart from hair loss, Saw Palmetto can also treat different medical conditions such as an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, bladder infections, decreased sex drive, etc.
Even though the research conducted to understand whether saw palmetto is effective in the treatment of hair loss is inadequate, the results are promising. It was found that an extract obtained from saw palmetto berries have found to block 5-alpha-reductase, which is the enzyme responsible for the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Hair loss happens when hair follicles are attacked by this DHT. Not only that, but DHT is also found to be responsible for prostate enlargement in males. Because of this, saw palmetto is also effective to treat people with an enlarged prostate. In fact, the synthetic ingredients in medications usually prescribed for hair loss and the constituents of saw palmetto which helps to block the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme are found to work in an identical way.
One of the studies conducted also showed promising results for men when they were treated with saw palmetto in combination with 10% trichogen veg complex. It was found that, out of the 25 people who participated in the study, nearly half reported increased hair count by
11.9 % after 4 months of treatment.
Different forms in which saw palmetto is available
Saw palmetto is available in various forms such as tablets, whole dried berries, powdered capsules, and liquid extracts. Out of these, capsules and tablets are most common and most of the researches regarding saw palmetto is done on these forms. Sometimes people make tea from saw palmetto whole dried berries and consume to achieve better hair growth. But this method is not much effective because the active ingredients of saw palmetto which prevents hair loss, are not water soluble.
As a general measure of safety, make sure to consult your doctor and ask about the safe dosage you can use before you start any supplements. The recommended dosage of saw palmetto is 160 mg, twice daily, in case you suffer from an enlarged prostate.
Saw Palmetto – Side effects and interactions
Even though this is a safe alternative for hair loss medications, it is not recommended for expectant mothers, children, and breastfeeding women. Some people may experience very rare side effects such as stomach pains and mild headaches. In order to avoid stomach irritation, always take saw palmetto extract with food. Another side effect of using saw palmetto is that it can cause thinning of blood causing excessive bleeding during surgeries. Therefore, inform your doctor about all of the supplements you are taking prior to any surgery.
There is also a possibility of saw palmetto having interactions with some medications. Make sure to avoid the use of saw palmetto if you are taking any type of medicines that are blood thinners. To be exact, saw palmetto should not be used in combination with aspirin and other prescription drugs such as warfarin.
Also, make sure not to use saw palmetto in combination with a medication like finasteride unless your doctor recommends it. This is because they both works in a similar way. Finasteride is also used to treat an enlarged prostate and hair loss. Saw palmetto is also found to impair with the efficiency of oral contraceptives as it interacts with hormones.
Saw palmetto is found to be a good solution for hair loss and works in a similar way as other hair loss prevention medications even though researches conducted in this direction is not completely adequate. Make sure to seek your doctor’s opinion before trying out any supplements, including saw palmetto and discontinue its usage if you notice any severe side effects.