How effective is saw palmetto for hair loss and regrowth? What do studies and user reviews say? What is the dosage and how is it used to grow hair? Read on to find out.
How Does Saw Palmetto work for Hair Loss? DHT Blocker + Studies
How does it work for hair?
Saw Palmetto also goes by the names American dwarf palm tree and cabbage palm. The Latin names for this product are: Serenoa repens, Sabal serrulata. Even though no actual clinical data are available, saw palmetto extract is known to be beneficial for conditions like androgenetic alopecia and for topical use in anti-acne formulations. These potential uses are based on the fact that studies done on cells revealed that palmetto extract was shown to inhibit both known isoforms of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. 5-alpha-reductase catalyzes the conversion of 5 testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
Enzymes like caspases which degrade DNA during programmed cell death also called apoptosis are known to be mediators of hair growth cycle. Recent studies have tried to establish a clear link and role of DHT in selectively regulating the caspase genes which play an important role in signaling programmed cell death, affecting the hair growth cycle. It was put forward that DHT may be signaling greater expression of caspases, inducing apoptosis in androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness /scalp hair loss in females).
Inasmuch as hair loss (alopecia) is not a debilitating or life threatening sickness, the thought of becoming bald can lead to emotional stress and traumatic experience especially if you suffer from premature or excessive hair loss. Many people try all they can to bring back their locks or at least, some of their once full head of hair. Hair loss sufferers spend a lot of money annually on remedies that include drugs, vitamins as well as special tonics and shampoos. Typical treatments of hair thinning includes drugs therapy and hair transplant.
Only two drugs have received FDA approval to be used for this condition and these are minoxidil and Propecia (Finasteride), mostly in men. Minoxidil is the only drug available for women with androgenetic alopecia. These drugs have been proven to show positive results for balding conditions on the vertex region of the scalp. Even though these drugs are effective, many people are wary of their unknown long-term effect and potential side-effects. This has led to increase interest in alternative remedies such as herbal medicine. A case in hand is saw palmetto
The major reason Saw Palmetto (Seranoa Repens) is a very popular choice hair loss remedy is due to the fact that it also has the ability to protect the prostrate. This does not only encourage the hair to re-grow but it also slows down the loss of hair.
Are there any studies that support its role on hair?
There are a number of minor studies which suggest that saw palmetto may be effective for treating BPH symptoms. However, another study done in 2011 by NCCAM, conducted a study in 369 older men and demonstrated that saw palmetto extract administered at up to three times the standard daily dose (320 mg) would not reduce the urinary symptoms associated with BPH more than placebo. In addition, a 2009 review of the research concluded that saw palmetto has not been shown to be more effective than placebo for this use. • In 2006, an NIH-funded study of 225 men with moderate-to-severe BPH found no improvement with 320 mg of saw palmetto daily for 1 year versus placebo.
In a closely monitored clinical study, there was an observed objective evidence of efficacy using orally administered botanical therapy in the treatment of AGA, for the first time. The implementation of larger gender-specific clinical trials, incorporating local delivery concomitant with oral administration is planned as an appropriate next step. There is a research that is underway to identify additional botanical compounds which may offer useful activity against AGA.
According to Mayo Clinic, saw Palmetto is rated ‘C’ as a hair loss remedy. This implies that there is unclear scientific evidence for this use and that further studies are needed before it could be recommended for use.
In another study that focused on 10 men with mild to moderate male pattern baldness, it was shown that saw palmetto produced some improvement in their condition.
In a slightly different study, 50 men were given topical Seranoa Repens for 24 weeks, hair growth was noted to have increased at weeks 12 and 24. The patients were reportedly satisfied with the products and experienced limited side effects.
In yet another study, a group of men and women were given shampoo, dietary supplements and lotion, all enriched with Seranoa Repens. Similarly, some improvement was noted and the published conclusion stated as follows:
“…this study confirms the effectiveness of Seranoa Repens extract on hair baldness such as androgenetic alopecia, especially when connected with 5a reductase activity”.
Another study which considered the effects of gelatin cysteine and Seranoa Repens extract on free radicals and hair growth, Singapore Dermatology 2000, paved way to reveal the increase in hair growth and quality. The conclusion of the research was as follows:
“…this result is undoubtedly due to the activity performed by the extract of Seranoa Repens which, as is known, opposes the transformation of testosterone in dihydrotestosterone”.
They went on to still postulate that:
“…bound to the contemporary backing presence of l-cysteine at level of hair keratogenetic area”.
Dr James Duke PhD, author of the healing herbs book ‘The Green Pharmacy’, believes that saw palmetto can be effective in treating hair loss. In his book Dr. Duke’s Essential Herbs, he states clearly that he has collected ‘a number of uncontrolled case studies’ that indicate that saw palmetto can trigger the regrowth of hair.
Benefits of Saw Palmetto for Hair
Extracts from saw palmetto berries work by blocking 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. DHT is the molecule responsible for hair loss, and also is involved in the enlargement of the prostate. It therefore;
- Prevents male pattern baldness; androgenic alopecia
- It helps maintain the proper thickness of hair
This has been thoroughly discussed in the sections above.
Dosage & how to use/take Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss & Regrowth
How is it used or taken for Hair?
- Soft Gels
- Liquid Extract
In the year 2011, as mentioned earlier, minoxidil and finasteride were the only two hair-loss regimens approved by the FDA. Many over-the-counter hair-loss treatments, like the Provillus, include minoxidil packaged with other treatments in order to claim FDA approval, although the only approved item in the package is minoxidil.
The lack of an FDA approval does not however imply that saw palmetto will not work as a hair-loss treatment. It is just that it has not been shown to work in the clinical settings. It is unlikely that saw palmetto will ever receive FDA approval. This is because it is not patented and it typically costs millions of dollars to conduct the tests the FDA requires.
Dosage-How much Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss Treatment
By virtue of this drug not having the FDA approval for hair loss treatment, it the dosage is not very clear. However, it is approximated that about 320mg per day of saw palmetto extract would be efficient for prostate issues.
Saw palmetto is regarded as a supplement as it is taken as a natural supplement. Fortunately, it does not cause very prominent side effects. The most common ones include: nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea. It is advised you speak to your doctor before beginning any new treatment. Mayo clinic
Recommended Daily Dosage of saw palmetto for hair loss?
The dosage forms to administer this drug is mostly the tablets and capsules. The capsules and tablets containing saw palmetto extract are the best bet for using this plant’s power to treat alopecia. The recommended adult dosage is between 160 milligrams and 200 milligrams per dose, taken twice daily.
How long does saw palmetto take to work for hair
Saw palmetto treatment does not provide results instantly. It should be given at least two months of daily use for results to appear. Within 60 days, you should be able to see whether hair loss has lessened and whether the thickness of existing hair has improved. You will observe full results within six months to a year after beginning treatment.
Hair Products-Saw Palmetto Shampoo & Oil
What are some the popular saw palmetto shampoos or shampoos with saw palmetto?
It is a Premium Hair Loss Prevention shampoo for Men and Women. It Contains ketoconazole, which kills the fungi that causes dandruff and other scalp conditions. It is thought to promote hair growth by inhibiting DHT. It is composed of saw palmetto, which may reduce DHT in the scalp, emu oil, which may help reduce DHT. It also has other properties that are beneficial for hair growth.
More still, it contains niacin, which may help increase blood circulation in the scalp. In addition, it contains biotin, which may aid in the production of cells in the scalp. Finally, it contains vitamin B5, which may protect the hair from damage
Pure D’ or Organic Argan Oil
It is an Anti-Hair Loss Shampoo. It contains a proprietary blend of DHT blocker ingredients. It also contains tea tree oil, which may help keep scalp pores clear. Apart from that, it contains nettle extract, saw palmetto, pygeum extract, pumpkin seed oil and green tea extract, which are all thought to block DHT. More, it contains biotin, rosemary oil, vitamin E and B-vitamin complex, which are thought to benefit hair health.
Similary, it contains he shou wu (fo-ti), which is thought to benefit hair growth. It also contains niacin, which may help increase blood circulation in the scalp. It contains zinc, which is thought to help kill the fungus that causes dandruff
Hair Genesis Anti DHT Shampoo
The major ingredients are Saw Palmetto, L-Carnitine, Beta-Sitosterol, R-Thioctic Acid, Borage Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Prunus Africana Bark Extract, Japanese Green Tea, Biotin.
Groganics DHT Blocker Shampoo
The main ingredients are: Saw palmetto, Nettle Leaf, Shea Butter.
Revivogen Anti DHT Shampoo
It contains Aloe Vera, Jojoba Oil, Panthenol, Ascorbic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Zinc Sulfate, Linoleic Acid, Azelaic Acid, Vitamin B6, Niacin, Saw Palmetto, Menthol
Regene Pure Doctor Recommended Anti Hair Loss Shampoo
It is composed of niacin, which may help increase blood circulation in the scalp. Similarly, it contains ketoconazole, which kills common scalp fungi and may also reduce scalp DHT. Apart from that, it contains saw palmetto, which may reduce DHT in the scalp. Contains linolenic acid, which may inhibit DHT locally. It also contains emu oil, which is an anti-inflammatory.
DHT is thought to cause inflammation in the scalp, leading to hair loss. In addition, it contains jojoba oil, which may increase hair growth. More still, it contains salicylic acid, which helps clear sebum and dead skin cells from the scalp Contains zinc, which helps reduce fungal infections in the scalp.
Saw palmetto oils, how to use, how effective it is & benefits
This is only used when you are having hair loss for both men and women. It has many phytoestrogens that slow down DHT buildup in the scalp. This helps slow down the occurrence of baldness in men. It is however scarce the reason as to why saw palmetto extract is more commonly used. To use, dilute in olive oil. Do this by mixing two teaspoons of olive oil and 3 drops of saw palmetto oil. Massage and rub on scalp twice daily.
Tips and Ideas for selecting and buying saw palmetto products for hair care.
Most brands in the market might be adulterated saw palmetto extracts or completely worthless. Care should be taken considering that 1 or 2 of 20 products will be of the required quality.
- 320 mg is the recommended daily dose.
- Organic supercritical CO2 extract is the best quality which is very dark green in color.
Saw Palmetto Hair Loss Reviews
Facts about customer reviews on Saw palmetto:
- Male, early 30’s
- Weight: 185 pounds
- Type of hair loss: Diffuse thinner
- Number of Years Thinning: 8
- Hair Loss Regimen: Minoxidil 2x per day, Nizoral shampoo 3x per week, and Hair max Laser comb 3x per week
This study was ran over the course of 6 weeks. He picked up a bottle of Jarrow Saw Palmetto with beta-sitosterol. This product comes with 120 soft-gels of 160mg saw palmetto extract. He used this supplement by taking 2 soft-gels (320mg) 2 times per day for 6 weeks. Here is a time line of his journey and observations of using this supplement every 2 weeks. The observations and monitoring in the course of drug administration was as follows:
Weeks 1 & 2:
There were no differences in the condition of his hair during week 1. After taking the full dosage for week 1, he reported no side effects. For week 2, he noticed something that was not hair loss related but definitely what he considered not a “bad thing” from taking the supplement. During week 2, he noticed his sex drive actually increased. After further study, he reported that saw palmetto has actually been shown to increase libido. There were no other side effects (aside the good one) during week 2.
Weeks 3 & 4:
During week 3, our reader stated that he noticed that his shedding had slowed down. Typically after taking a shower in the past, he would notice more hairs on a towel after drying his hair. During week 4, he again stated that he saw less hair falling out and it appeared that his shedding was noticeably reduced. There were no signs of regrowth but he was happy seeing less hair in the sink! Again, there were no side effects other than a healthier libido.
Weeks 5 & 6:
For week 5, he reported that his shedding had completely stopped. In addition, his hair thickness had improved and he could see small hairs growing on his temples. His theory is by taking the saw palmetto, it slowed the current hair loss rate and gave his other products such as minoxidil and the laser comb a chance to regrow hair. After week 6, he said his hair actually looked the best he has seen it in years. He believes taking this supplement has helped stop further hair loss and has given the chance for the hair re-growth products to grow new hair.
Sources & References
 Sultan C, Terraza A, Devillier C, et al. Inhibition of androgen metabolism and binding by a liposterolic extract of “Serenoa repens B” in human foreskin fibroblasts. J Steroid Biochem 1984; 20(1): 515-9.
 Cristoni A, Morazzoni P, Bombardelli E. Chemical and pharmacological study on hypercritical CO2 extracts of Serenoa repens fruits. Fitoterapia 1997; Vol. 68 (4): 355-8.
 Hagenlocher M, Romalo G, Schweikert HU. Specific inhibition of 5α-reductase by a new extract of sabal serrulata. Akt Urol 1993; 24: 146-9.
 Sawaya, M.E. et al (2001) Androgen responsive genes as they affect hair growth. Eur. J. Dermatol. 11(4):304-308.
 Barry MJ, Meleth S, Lee JY, et al. Effect of increasing doses of saw palmetto extract on lower urinary tract symptoms: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2011; 306(12):1344-1351.
 Tacklind J, MacDonald R, Rutks I, et al. Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2009 ;( 2):CD001423.
 Prager N., Bickett K., French N., Marcovici G., (2002), A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial to Determine the Effectiveness of Botanically Derived Inhibitors of 5AR in the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 8(2)