Saw Palmetto, also known as Serenoa repens, is extracted from a berry that grows mainly in the United States. Saw Palmetto has been traced back to the Mayans and the Seminoles who used Saw Palmetto hundreds of years ago for its powerful medicinal properties.
Saw Palmetto has been shown to inhibit the enzyme 5 alpha reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT- dihydrotestoterone-, DHT, a potent form of testosterone, is the hormone most responsible for hair loss. DHT causes shrinking of the hair follicle, which slows and eventually eliminates hair growth.
Evidence for Saw Palmetto contributing to stopping hair loss is difficult to summarize because of its many different uses, variations and dosages. However, it has been shown that Saw Palmetto has been effective against enlarged prostates. This has a direct connection to Saw Palmetto as a weapon against hair loss, because the same enzyme is at play in both conditions.
Prostate enlargement has many causes, but one of them is testosterone being converted into DHT. DHT has been directly linked as a main cause of hair loss. The enzyme type I 5 alpha-reductase is found in the sebaceous glands (oil glands) of most areas of the skin, including the scalp.
The type II 5 alpha reductase is found mainly in the prostate, seminal vesicles, epididymides and the hair follicles. Furthermore, the enzyme is found in the scalp areas affected by male-pattern baldness and not in other areas of the scalp. The evidence shows the effectiveness of Saw Palmetto at inhibiting the 5 alpha-reductase enzyme in the prostate- the same enzyme found in the hair follicles.
Clinical research done by the Clinical Research and Development Network is shown in abstract here:
“J Altern Complement Med. 2002 Apr;8(2):143-52. Prager N, Bickett K, French N, Marcovici G.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of botanically derived inhibitors of 5-alpha-reductase in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia.
Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is characterized by the structural miniaturization of androgen-sensitive hair follicles in susceptible individuals and is anatomically defined within a given pattern of the scalp. Biochemically, one contributing factor of this disorder is the conversion of testosterone (T) to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) via the enzyme 5-alpha reductase (5AR). This metabolism is also key to the onset and progression of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Furthermore, AGA has also been shown to be responsive to drugs and agents used to treat BPH. Of note, certain botanical compounds have previously demonstrated efficacy against BPH. Here, we report the first example of a placebo-controlled, double-blind study undertaken in order to examine the benefit of these botanical substances in the treatment of AGA. OBJECTIVES: The goal of this study was to test botanically derived 5AR inhibitors, specifically the liposterolic extract of Serenoa repens (LSESr) and beta-sitosterol, in the treatment of AGA. Subjects: Included in this study were males between the ages of 23 and 64 years of age, in good health, with mild to moderate AGA. RESULTS: The results of this pilot study showed a highly positive response to treatment. The blinded investigative staff assessment report showed that 60% of (6/10) study subjects dosed with the active study formulation were rated as improved at the final visit. CONCLUSIONS: This study establishes the effectiveness of naturally occurring 5AR inhibitors against AGA for the first time, and justifies the expansion to larger trials.” (PMID: 12006122 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE)
The study indicates great promise for Saw Palmetto in the treatment of hair loss. It’s true that research connecting Saw Palmetto and hair growth is still ongoing and future results confirming these findings is eagerly anticipated.
Still, there have been other studies and anecdotal evidence since which suggest a weak viability of Saw Palmetto as a hair loss treatment.
Saw Palmetto has some potential for being a contributor to the effective management of hair loss. It is recommended as a supplement to a hair growth regimen. It will be a good addition to minoxidil, a ketoconazole shampoo such as Nizoral, and Propecia. For some, who are not too keen on adding Propecia in their regimen because of adverse reaction to any possible side effects, may consider Saw Palmetto as a valid weapon to fight hair loss.
All content on this site is strictly for INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. Please consult your doctor for any advice regarding your condition.