The saw palmetto plant has been used throughout history to treat various medical conditions and recently, it’s gained attention as a possible alternative treatment for androgenetic alopecia (male pattern hair loss). The extract contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, as well as compounds that affect cell growth and how cells respond to hormones. But how effective is saw palmetto for hair growth? Does it actually help with hair loss? We’ll address these questions and more in this article.
Can I use saw palmetto for hair growth?
Yes. In the past few years, several small-scale studies have shown that saw palmetto can help stimulate hair growth and treat mild cases of androgenetic hair loss. It can be taken either as an oral supplement at doses between 100 to 300 mg up to twice a day, or in topical form. There is no standard concentration for topical saw palmetto as this depends partly on the properties of the carrier (or base).
How does saw palmetto work for hair growth?
While the exact mechanism through which saw palmetto affects hair growth is not known, it shares some similarities with finasteride's mechanism of action. it’s likely a combination of effects including inhibition of two forms of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme (preventing dihydrotestosterone, or DHT production and halting progression of hair loss) and other anti-inflammatory effects (which promote scalp and hair follicle health). In fact, one study found that the DHT-lowering effect of saw palmetto is actually quite potent, with the extract demonstrating the ability to block enzyme activity by about 50% (Lehlé et al., 1995).
How do I use saw palmetto for hair growth?
You can use saw palmetto in a few different forms to support hair growth. The extract can be taken as an oral supplement, topical treatment (applied directly to the scalp) or used as an ingredient in hair care products like shampoos and conditioners. Since saw palmetto is a natural product, you won’t need a prescription to purchase products that contain it. However, we recommend that you inform your doctor if you’re taking saw palmetto for hair loss, or any other supplements.
At XYON, we believe that saw palmetto can be an effective adjunct therapy for hair loss. We’ve launched a line of DHT-Blocking Shampoos and Conditioners that are intended to form part of a comprehensive treatment regimen for androgenetic hair loss. Also coming soon is a topical saw palmetto formulation, using patented SiloxysSystem™ Gel as the base to help focus the extract’s DHT-lowering effects at the scalp.
How effective is saw palmetto for hair loss?
Saw palmetto appears to be effective for hair loss, but more studies are needed to fully understand how it compares to more potent pharmaceutical agents, like finasteride and dutasteride. Five randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and two prospective cohort studies have demonstrated positive effects in study participants experiencing androgenetic alopecia or telogen effluvium (stress-induced hair loss).
After taking either an oral saw palmetto supplement or topical saw palmetto treatment, 60% of study participants noticed an improvement in overall hair quality, 27% experienced an improvement in total hair count, 83.3% noticed increased hair density and over half of participants saw stabilization of their hair loss. Across these studies, saw palmetto extract was well tolerated and not associated with serious side effects (Evron et al., 2020).
How long does it take saw palmetto to regrow hair?
When taking saw palmetto for hair loss, you can expect to use your treatment for at least 3-6 months before noticing visible improvement. This timeframe is fairly standard amongst all hair loss treatments. The studies that have assessed the benefit of saw palmetto generally had treatment periods between 3-24 months.
Although you might begin to see positive results with saw palmetto within 3-6 months, it’s possible that you won’t observe maximum benefits until 12-24 months of treatment. Treatment time frames can also depend on dosage and concentration.
While clinical data isn’t as extensive as what’s available for finasteride or even dutasteride, saw palmetto nonetheless appears to be a satisfactory natural option, or as a supporting treatment in a more comprehensive regimen for pattern hair loss. If you have a more advanced case of androgenetic alopecia, you may need more intensive treatment. Consider talking to your doctor if you’re unsure.
Saw palmetto for hair growth: Takeaway
Saw palmetto is a promising natural alternative for treating hair loss and encouraging hair growth. It works similarly to finasteride and dutasteride to block DHT production, but it’s unclear how its potency compares to these more established medications.
Also, unlike the 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, saw palmetto extract has added antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that can help create and maintain the scalp conditions needed for optimal hair growth. It may also have fewer side effects. If you’re considering taking saw palmetto for hair growth, talk to your doctor about whether it would be a good option for you.