Saw Palmetto is a herb of tropical origins that has long been used to treat a number of scalp and skin conditions. It has been noted for its ability to maintain a healthy skin as well as a treatment for reversing hair loss.
It was used by native Americans who, it is thought, used it to help revive hair follicles as well as make the scalp less sensitive to stress and irritation long considered a contributor to hair loss.
It can also help with other causes of hair loss such as certain pathological conditions and generally help with alopecia. Saw Palmetto is composed of bioactive ingredients that are lipophilic. This means that they can be extracted into an oil and are easily absorbed by the skin. This can be directly applied to the area which requires treatment.
Although it is not entirely understood, it is believed that Saw Palmetto blocks a key enzyme which allows the male hormone testosterone from being converted into ‘dihydrotestosterone‘ (DHT). This hormone is considered to be one of the major contributors to hair loss.
Topical Saw Palmetto Application for Hair Loss
Saw palmetto can be applied directly to hair roots, much like many other hair loss topical. For best results leave on the scalp fo 1-2 hours to ensure that it is absorbed into the hair follicles. Ideally it should be applied before sleep and then left overnight.
Saw palmetto can also be consumed as a dietary supplement.
Oral saw palmetto supplementation for hair loss
Saw palmetto has been shown to reduce the conversion of testosterone into DHT in the blood by inhibitting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. This makes saw palmetto a natural (but less effective) alternative to Propecia (Finasteride). It also has fewer and less significant side effects compared with Propecia.
Side Effects and Warnings
Effects include stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea and nausea. In rare cases saw palmetto supplementation is known to effect libido and cause temporary erectile dysfunction.
It is not advised for pregnant or nursing women, children or those with kidney or liver disease. As there has been little research on people with these conditions it wouldn’t advisable to take Saw Palmetto until such a time it has been approved for such people.
If you are male always inform your doctor before starting a saw palmetto course because commonly it reduces prostate size. Since prostate size is the primary indicator for determining prostate health (during a prostate check, which is a crucial check for prevention and detection of prostate cancer), if the prostate size is reduced by saw palmetto and your doctor is not aware that you have been using saw palmetto, they may misinterpret your prostate exam results (due to an incomplete picture). Therefore it is extremely important that you inform your doctor before you start a course of saw palmetto supplementation.