Is Saw Palmetto Effective For Acne? Know The Truth Here

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sravya Tipirneni, MBBS, MD DVL
By Ramona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach

Saw palmetto extracts and supplements have gained popularity due to the various health and skin benefits. Saw palmetto is effective for acne and may help reduce severe breakouts. However, you must understand how it works and if it suits everyone or not before using it. This article explains the science behind the use of saw palmetto for acne, its benefits, safety, and efficacy. Read on.

What Is Saw Palmetto?

What Is Saw Palmetto?

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Saw palmetto or Serenoa repens is a small shrub resembling a palm tree that grows only in sandy soil, typically underneath the pinewoods and hardwood hammocks. It is native to the southeast United States and also grows along the plains and sandy areas of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast.

The plant produces dark-colored berries known for their several nutritional properties. The Native Americans use the berries as sedatives, diuretics, and aphrodisiacs. The oil extracted from these berries is used as a nutritional supplement for health and skin care benefits. The extracts are also used in topical preparations and are claimed to reduce acne.

The Benefits Of Saw Palmetto For Acne

Saw palmetto extract works as an anti-androgen and has anti-inflammatory benefits, which helps minimize acne (1).

Conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome can increase adrenal androgen levels, which may increase excess sebum production and make your skin acne-prone. Taking saw palmetto extracts can reduce androgen levels, controlling contributory factors to acne. Saw palmetto extract also lowers the DHT levels and helps minimize acne inflammation. It can be used as a monotherapy or as a combination therapy for acne (1).

A clinical trial examining the efficacy of a sebum control cream containing saw palmetto extract, sesame seeds, and argan oil on oily skin found that 95% of the volunteers reported sebum-regulatory effects of the cream. In addition, it reduced greasiness in oily skin (2).

Scientific research is minimal to prove the efficacy of saw palmetto for hormonal and any other forms of acne. However, it might be helpful to some extent.

If you are interested in trying this ingredient, continue reading for the best ways to use saw palmetto for acne.

How Can You Use Saw Palmetto For Acne?

You can use saw palmetto extracts in the following ways:

  •  Consume saw palmetto supplements (after consulting your doctor).
  •  Eat dry saw palmetto berries.
  •  Apply saw palmetto essential oil as a spot treatment. Remember to always dilute it with a carrier oil.
  •  Use lotions, creams, and gels containing saw palmetto extract.

Anecdotal evidence is mixed regarding the efficacy of saw palmetto extracts. While some people reported improvement in their acne, others saw no effect or experienced a flare-up. Therefore, it is better to test the ingredient to check for its effectiveness.

Always perform a patch test before using saw palmetto products on your skin. If you develop an allergic reaction, avoid further use and consult your physician immediately. Do not take saw palmetto supplements without consulting the doctor as they might cause side effects.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Saw Palmetto?

Most people using saw palmetto for skin can tolerate it well without any reactions. However, you can develop some mild side effects if you consume the ingredient. These side effects include:

  •  Indigestion
  •  Abdominal pain
  •  Diarrhea
  •  Nausea and vomiting
  •  Tiredness
  •  Headache
  •  Constipation

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid taking saw palmetto in any form. As it interferes with the hormonal balance (androgens), children below 12 and women below 18 should avoid them.
Always check with your doctor before using saw palmetto for the skin or taking any such supplements. It may also cause drug interaction, so let them know about any other medications or supplements you are currently using.

Saw palmetto is an herb used by Native Americans for centuries for medicinal purposes. Studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory and anti-androgenic properties make saw palmetto effective in treating acne. You can use saw palmetto as a supplement, lotion, cream, or essential oil. While topical application of saw palmetto is safe, consumption of the berries may result in mild side effects such as abdominal pain, indigestion, or headache. If you develop adverse reactions, stop its use immediately and consult your doctor. It is recommended that pregnant women and children below 18 years avoid using saw palmetto as it may interfere with the hormones.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for saw palmetto to work for acne?

It may take 4 to 6 weeks for saw palmetto to show any results. Consult a doctor for further information.

Does saw palmetto increase estrogen?

Currently, there are no studies that suggest that saw palmetto increases estrogen levels.

What does saw palmetto do for women?

Saw palmetto may help in the treatment of women suffering from androgenic alopecia, hirsutism, hyperandrogenism, and acne (2).

Key Takeaways

  • Saw palmetto is a small, palm-like shrub native to the southeast United States.
  • It has anti-androgen and anti-inflammatory, which contribute to reducing acne.
  • To reap the benefits of saw palmetto, you can take supplements, apply essential oils, or use skin care products containing its extract.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Saw palmetto extract: A dermatologist’s perspective
    https://www.ijdd.in/article.asp?issn=2455-3972;year=2017;volume=3;issue=1;spage=11;epage=13;aulast=Reddy
  2. Clinical and instrumental study of the efficacy of a new sebum control cream
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17524128/
  3. The Use of Serenoa Repens (Saw Palmetto) in Hair Care Products
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331548614_The_Use_of_Serenoa_Repens_Saw_Palmetto_in_Hair_Care_Products
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author
Ramona is an editor at StyleCraze. Prior to that, she authored over 200 articles on skin and hair care. She... more

Dr. Sravya Tipirneni

(MBBS, MD DVL, AMPH (ISB) )
Dr. Sravya Chowdary Tipirneni is a consultant dermatologist and cosmetologist and practices at Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield, Bengaluru, India. She... more

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