Many men try saw palmetto hair loss products on the basis that they’re safe, natural alternatives to the drug Propecia (finasteride) which is FDA approved but can unfortunately cause side effects (some of them quite serious). And since finasteride is only approved for use in men, there are plenty of women who use topical and oral saw palmetto products for their hair loss too.
This review examines saw palmetto oral products. First, here's some quick background information about this hair loss herb:
Saw palmetto is a small palm tree (it grows to just 10 feet high) which grows along the south-east coastline in the USA (and also in the West Indies – Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, etc).
It's leaves are a distinctive fan shape, but it's the small berries it produces which are of interest. That's because they contain active ingredients which have an inhibitory effect on the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). And that's useful in the treatment of the prostate gland and possibly hair loss (male pattern baldness).
The active ingredients thought to inhibit DHT are:
Fatty acids - Saw palmetto berries contain nine fatty acids, the greatest concentration of which being oleic, lauric, myristic and palmitic acids.
Phytosterols - Phytosterols are basically plant-based
steroids which appear to have several health-promoting effects. The
concentration of sterols in saw palmetto berries is very small when
compared to their fatty acid content.
To answer that question, you also need to learn the answers to the three important questions listed in the chart below. You can also use the chart to compare some of the most popular saw palmetto oral-based products.
Also, please read the notes about these questions beneath the chart. It's only by doing thorough research like this, that you know you'll be making an informed decision about whether or not to try any saw palmetto supplements.
Before analyzing the chart, here’s an interesting email someone sent me which mentions saw palmetto supplements:
Clearly, whenever you research hair loss products, you must be thorough. Such dedication can then pay off by uncovering important details that might otherwise be easy to overlook, as you’ll see below:
HairGenesis has tested some of the ingredients common to both its oral capsules and topical serum* products in vitro (i.e., in a lab). But, no clinical testing (i.e., on real patients) or testing of the actual products themselves appear to have been done. The ingredients tested were: saw palmetto extract and beta-sitosterol, carnitine and thioctic acid.
Procerin, on the other hand, has completed clinical trials (on 32 men) using a combination of their oral tablets and topical foam* products.
* HairGenesis and Procerin topical products are reviewed on the next page.
None of the other companies seem to have conducted any such testing of their products.
Using saw palmetto for hair loss might cause some of the
same side effects as Propecia (finasteride). And these include problems
for pregnant women. Women are advised not to use (or even handle)
finasteride. So, taking saw palmetto for hair loss might not be such a
good idea for any woman who might want to have children. You can learn more about the risk of side effects from saw palmetto here.
However, despite this, you can see that most products in the chart do state that their product is suitable for women! Of
those that don't, Provillus have a separate product for women that does
not contain saw palmetto (Provillus Women’s Formula), and the Procerin
website states that their product is specifically for men because it
Using saw palmetto for hair loss is said to be most beneficial as a standardized extract rather than simply crushed whole berries. From the chart, you can see that, whilst Procerin and Provillus do not contain saw palmetto extract, they do contain a much higher dose (of berries) than the extract-based products. So this might mean that they contain a similar amount of the active ingredients as the other products.
However, you can also see that the extract products do vary quite a bit in the amount of saw palmetto they contain:
Advecia seems quite low at only 37.5 mg of saw palmetto per serving (i.e., from four capsules) although the official Advecia website states that this (4:1) extract will be the same strength as 150 mg of saw palmetto.
But even if this were the case, the dose from HairGenesis is still much higher (400 mg).
for Shen Min, this product provides saw palmetto extract within its own
proprietary blend, which totals 600 mg per serving (i.e., from two
tablets), but this dose includes a combination of other ingredients too
(phytosterols, pumpkin seed extract and quercetin). So, just how much
saw palmetto extract is contained I don't know - when I emailed them
about this they said that they don’t disclose the exact amounts.
All of which raises the question:
Many people seem to think that 320 mg of a standardized extract is the optimum daily dose because that’s what has been proven effective against prostate problems in men. But, given how widely the saw palmetto content varies in the hair regrowth products reviewed above, this suggests that value is far from certain.
The dose issue aside, from the research I've done it seems that saw palmetto can benefit people with hair loss but only very slowly and to quite a small extent – e.g., perhaps after six months or more, it might slow down your rate of hair loss or improve the growth of your existing hair.
Remember though that whilst taking saw palmetto supplements instead of hair loss drug products might seem like a good, natural alternative, any herb that has a medicinal effect should be treated as medicine. And you don’t want to overdose on something that hasn’t had any long term side effects studied and documented.
Of course, saw palmetto hair loss products don't just include oral supplements, many topical products also include this popular herb as an essential ingredient. You can learn all about them on the next page.
This page 1 of 2.
Read next page? Compare topical DHT blocker products.
If you are interested in using any of the supplements reviewed on this page, here are the full product names:
Most of these companies have other products too, but only those containing saw palmetto have been reviewed.
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