Why is Saw Palmetto included in almost all hair growth products for men and women? In this article, I’ll show you how this natural ingredient can help with hair loss and show you Saw Palmetto’s hair regrowth success. I’ll also compare it to one of the leading hair loss medications and review 5 of the best saw palmetto hair products you can buy today.
Male and Female Hair Loss
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. It is one of the leading health issues most people face today. Millions of men and women in the U.S. are experiencing hair loss. And there are a lot of possible hair loss causes, including hereditary disorders, aging, trauma, infections, hormonal imbalance, and more.
Alopecia can be diffused or focal. Focal hair loss or hair loss observed in patches has 3 main types. These are: alopecia areata, alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. Let’s define these one by one.
Alopecia areata is defined by hair loss in patches. These patches can occur anywhere on the body (eyelashes/eyebrows, facial hair, scalp).
Alopecia totalis is when a person loses most of his/her hair on the areas of the scalp, lashes, or facial hair.
Alopecia universalis refers to little to no growing hair on the whole body.
Another type of alopecia that occurs in a diffused manner is called androgenetic alopecia. It is a common condition that affects 50 million and 30 million women in the US alone. Thus, this will be one of the main topics I will discuss in this article.
Androgenetic Alopecia is characterized by the loss of terminal hair on the scalp and happens after puberty. AGA hair loss is prominent in the vertex and frontotemporal regions in males. In females, the frontal region is spared, but the crown and top of the head are widely affected.
AGA is a genetically inherited disease mainly caused by excessive androgens or testosterone levels in the body. DHT or dihydrotestosterone is found to be inflammatory. It can shrink your hair follicles and shorten your anagen phase resulting in extreme hair loss and balding. Recent studies on the treatment of AGA are focused on blocking this compound. One significantly potent treatment includes a natural herb called saw palmetto.
What is Saw Palmetto?
Saw palmetto is the most common native palm in the US, and probably the most useful, too. Its parts have a variety of uses, from its flowers to its fruits. Current interest in palmetto was seen for its use in the treatment of benign hyperplasia, or increased cell production that is indicative of cancerous cells.
Saw Palmetto Hair Regrowth Success
Many studies have been done since the early 2000s on the effectiveness of saw palmetto for hair loss. One early study involved giving 10 males with androgenetic alopecia a saw palmetto supplement. 6 out of 10 males have improved health conditions after the study.
Since then, numerous studies have been conducted on the uses of saw palmetto for hair loss. In summarized research of published evidence, the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of supplements containing saw palmetto in the treatment of alopecia were compiled and analyzed. Different databases were searched using the following keywords: saw palmetto, hair loss, androgenetic alopecia, and natural supplement.
Seven random clinical trials showed positive effects after oral supplementation and topical application of SP products among patients with androgenetic alopecia. This study includes a 60% improvement in overall hair quality, increased hair density in over 80% of patients, and a 27% improvement in total hair count.
Furthermore, 52% of those using various topical and SP-containing supplements has the disease progression stabilized. No serious adverse events were associated with alopecia patients, and products were well tolerated.
How Does Saw Palmetto Help with Hair Regrowth?
Numerous mechanisms contribute to the success of saw palmetto in treating AGA. The active principle behind this treatment is that palmetto berry extracts contain phytosterols that are found to affect the production and action of DHT directly.
It was discovered that Saw Palmetto has 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. 5-Alpha reductase is an enzyme responsible for the conversion of testosterone into DHT. DHT causes chronic scalp inflammation, and hair follicle inflammation is considered one of the contributing factors of androgenetic alopecia.
Saw palmetto berries were also found to block the absorption of DHT into the target nucleus, thus further reducing the conversion of testosterone to DHT. When the DHT production pathway is limited, the effects of DHT, such as hair loss and testosterone-linked diseases, are also reduced.
And once the scalp is healthier and free of DHT, Saw Palmetto can also promote better blood flow on the scalp—this help and aids in delivering essential nutrients needed for hair growth.
Many hair loss treatments are available in the market, but most are all-natural, or their active ingredients are usually extracted from plant sources. There’s only one FDA-approved drug for hair loss available over the counter: minoxidil-containing products.
Minoxidil was initially used as a hypertensive drug but was later approved as a hair loss treatment in 1988 due to potential side effects of hair growth. It has been almost 30 years, and numerous studies are still being done to understand its mechanism of action on male and female hair loss problems.
In a recent study where minoxidil was used for treating 11,000 patients, a success rate of 92% was discovered. This discovery and many more studies further prove the potential of minoxidil in treating hair loss. Garnering the attention of cosmetic industries, many products have been released in topical application forms, such as minoxidil shampoos, sprays, and foams.
How Does Minoxidil Work?
Minoxidil is a vasodilator and works by promoting blood flow on your scalp. It dilates blood vessels and aids in the delivery of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood on your scalp. It also decreases the Telogen or resting phase and prolongs the Anagen or the hair-building phase, which results in the increased size and number of hair follicles.
Furthermore, although Minoxidil was not known to be a DHT blocker, recent studies show that Minoxidil can also suppress Androgen receptors related functions. In simple words, Minoxidil also inhibits DHT formation by influencing androgen receptors which activate the binding/conversion of testosterone to DHT.
Saw Palmetto vs Minoxidil
Minoxidil is a clinically proven and FDA-approved medication for hair loss. It works for hair loss in 2 powerful ways, blocking DHT formation and vasodilation. Saw Palmetto, on the other hand, is considered a DHT blocker only.
When it comes to efficacy, one study showed that minoxidil had a superior hair-producing effect in all stages of hair follicle compared to the effects of saw palmetto berries. However, it was recommended that saw palmetto be the second line of treatment due to adverse effect concerns from minoxidil treatments.
Hair Regrowth Products with Saw Palmetto
Many products in the market are available that contain saw palmetto as a potent ingredient. Let’s look at these products and briefly discuss their possible effects.
Saw Palmetto Shampoos
Shampooing is one of the most common topical applications using saw palmetto as an ingredient. It is easy to use and more convenient for consumers as it is only applied to target hair and scalp. It is relatively safer since it is only used externally. But, there are unknown side effects that may affect each user. You should seek your physician’s approval before using these products.
Now, let’s look at some of these raved shampoos that have saw palmetto extract or saw palmetto berry.
Dr. Hempster Anti-hair Loss Shampoo
Dr Hempster provides a powerful blend of ingredients to help with hair regrowth and improve hair health. This shampoo’s active ingredients are saw palmetto, biotin, wheat protein, hemp seed oil, and argan oil.
The saw palmetto in Dr. Hempster shampoo is a key ingredient in the regrowth process of hair. The wheat protein nourishes the scalp by providing amino acids needed for healthy hair growth, while biotin helps metabolize these amino acids. On the other hand, hemp seed oil and argan oil helps strengthen hair and hydrate the scalp to prevent split ends and keep hair smooth and shiny.
Another good thing about Dr. Hempster Shampoo is that the shampoo is sulfate and paraben-free. The only not-so-good thing is the possible adverse effects to some users, as some reported dry and itchy hair & scalp, while others had mild allergic reactions. You should read the label and see if you’re allergic to any of its ingredients.
Shapiro MD Regrowth Kit
This kit by Shapiro MD is a complete hair regrowth set containing shampoo, conditioner, and a minoxidil leave-in foam. The foam reinvigorates your scalp and promotes hair growth. It was clinically tested and proven effective in treating hair loss and hair thinning in both men and women.
Active ingredients include saw palmetto berry, green tea, caffeine extract, and the power of 2% minoxidil. Saw palmetto, like minoxidil, helps prevent hair loss by blocking the DHT in the body. The caffeine extract’s effect is similar to saw palmetto, further intensifying the hair regrowth potential of this product. Green tea supports healthy hair growth as it acts as a hair follicle stimulator and prevents damage to hair cells.
The Regrowth kit is paraben-free and sulfate-free. It is generally safe to use and add to your daily routine, as it was dermatologically tested and clinically proven. However, results may vary for every user.
Saw Palmetto Supplements
One other form of taking in and absorbing the saw palmetto powerful ingredient is by taking it as a supplement. Supplementing with Saw Palmetto vitamins along with other hair-growth-promoting ingredients can help not only your hair but your overall health as well.
Propidren is a hair growth vitamin formulated to target hair loss by blocking DHT levels in the body. One thing I like about Propidren is they also offer hair growth pills, shampoo, and serum. All of these products use saw palmetto as the main active ingredient. Other ingredients include biotin, fo-ti, beta-sitosterol, horsetail, green tea extract, iron, and zinc.
Biotin, a commonly used ingredient in shampoo, helps reproduce keratin, the protein that makes up most of your hair. Saw palmetto, beta-sitosterol, and green tea extract are known agents to fight DHT in your body and promote hair growth. Fo-ti and Horsetail are natural herbs with antioxidant and hair-protective properties that can help your hair grow healthy and stronger. Lastly, iron and zinc stimulate blood flow on the scalp and help deliver these hair-growing nutrients to your hair.
Besides improved hair growth, users also experienced healthier scalp, skin, and nails after using Propidren products. One disadvantage I can only list is its high pricing. But worry not, one big plus point for this product is the 100% money-back guarantee. If you are unsatisfied with their product, the manufacturer guarantees a full refund.
Nutrafol supplement contains medical-grade, high-quality, and natural ingredients that help promote healthy hair and prevent hair loss. It is a clinically proven product and best-rated among its other hair loss competition products. Its main ingredients include saw palmetto, biotin, iodine, and other nature-derived ingredients.
Saw Palmetto and the Maca root(used in women’s formula) can significantly reduce DHT levels and promote hair regrowth. The biotin and marine collagen stimulates keratin production, help improve hair color, and boost overall hair quality. A special ingredient in the formula called Sensoril® Ashwagandha is a top-rate plant extract that neutralizes stress and lowers the cortisol levels that hinder hair growth. Other ingredients like Horsetail Extract, Vitamin E, and Iodine are rich in nutrients that nourish and protect hair from aging and damage.
One of the best things I love about Nutrafol is its special formula for postpartum women. This is a good thing because we know that childbirth is very stressful and energy-draining. That is where Nutrafol can help fill post-natal gaps and promote the overall health of mothers. However, two complaints I can name about Nutrafol products are that it is pricey and it will take 3-6 months to see positive results
Hairprin has an extensive list of ingredients. Some of its ingredients include saw palmetto, biotin, Fo-ti, folic acid, ginkgo biloba, vitamin amino acids, and borage oil. These ingredients have a high potential to block hair loss, according to many studies.
Saw palmetto is a natural herb that counteracts the activity of DHT, or the androgen causing hair loss. Biotin is an absorbable vitamin that supports various biological processes, including hair growth. Fo-ti is also common in hair growth products since it can enhance hair and skin health and prevent hair graying.
Folic acid promotes the production of red blood cells and helps increases oxygen uptake of hair follicles, thus, promoting hair growth. Ginkgo Biloba acts against inflammation of hair follicles, while borage oil moisturizes hair and scalp to keep it strong and prevent further hair loss. Last but not least, Hairprin contains Vitamins and Minerals that nourish your hair from the inside and helps prevent deficiencies, which is also a leading cause of hair loss.
Saw Palmetto Side Effects
One of the myths we should tackle before we conclude this article is that Saw Palmetto has no side effects because it is a plant. Since ancient times, herbal products have been used to treat diseases. Therefore, many people believe that since it is natural and plant-derived, it will not cause side effects. However, saw palmetto can cause side effects, including headache, nausea, diarrhea, and for some itching, and allergies.
Saw Palmetto vs Minoxidil’s Side Effects
Minoxidil is known for its supremacy in the hair loss treatment department. But beyond all these powerful anti-hair loss properties of minoxidil, adverse side effects are very common. Some of these are irritation, dryness of the scalp, and rare allergic dermatitis.
It is important to note that in the study involving saw palmetto and minoxidil; it was recommended that naturally derived but still potent inhibitors, such as Saw palmetto, be used for those non-tolerant to minoxidil due to its fewer side effects.
Saw Palmetto Hair Regrowth Success: Verdict
There are a lot of studies that show the effectiveness of Saw Palmetto in regrowing hair. However, there are limitations since some studies involved only a few patients. But, it should be noted that the success of most of the supplements today can be mainly attributed to Saw Palmetto’s anti-DHT properties.
Finding the best herbal supplement and shampoo for hair loss that truly work is very difficult. I suggest you consult your healthcare provider and see if there are available products with minimal side effects or try other anti-hair loss ingredients like Capixyl. Consider getting a stress or deficiency test and see if supplementation can help with your hair loss.
Mel is a licensed Chemist in New Jersey who has worked in several cosmetics companies and has years of experience formulating hair care and beauty products. She uses her knowledge in cosmetics to distinguish and find the best products to recommend to Union Of Barber’s readers. When Mel’s not writing, you can find her walking her dogs or cooking and baking at home!