Saw Palmetto For Hair Loss: Side Effects And Precautions

Learn the truth before jumping on this natural remedy to boost hair growth.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS
By Sindhu Koganti, BTech (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

Saw palmetto for hair loss is believed to be an effective solution for your hair-related woes. If you have tried chemically-laden hair loss products and none of them worked, you may try this natural remedy. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) prevents hair loss and may reverse it. Native Americans used it centuries ago to treat a variety of ailments. Several studies suggest that this plant’s fruits promote hair growth in men and women. This article examines what evidence is for the benefits of saw palmetto for hair loss. Additionally, we look at its dosage, ideal use, and potential side effects. Scroll down.

How Does Saw Palmetto Help Curb Hair Loss?

Research on the benefits of saw palmetto for hair loss is limited. In one study, topical products containing saw palmetto extract helped treat male androgenetic alopecia (permanent hair loss on the scalp) (1). Saw palmetto might inhibit the action of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that can lead to male pattern baldness by converting testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone)  (2), (3). The formation of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is one major cause of hair loss. DHT attaches itself to the hair follicles and blocks their nourishment. More information on the use of saw palmetto as a drug for reversing hair loss is warranted.

Saw palmetto’s anti-inflammatory properties might also help treat hair loss (4). This herb is available in various forms for use.

What Forms Is Saw Palmetto Available In?

Saw palmetto is available as tablets, powdered capsules, and liquid extracts. It is also available as whole dried fruit or fruit preparations (used in making tea or water extracts) and tinctures.

In the following section, we will explore how you can use this herb for promoting hair health.

How To Use Saw Palmetto?

1. Saw Palmetto And Olive Oil

An oil massage improves blood circulation and nourishes your hair follicles. Olive oil has excellent nutritional and conditioning properties that can improve hair and follicular health (5). You can use this remedy thrice a week.

You Will Need

  • 6-8 drops of saw palmetto oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Process
  1. Mix both the oils in a bowl.
  2. Heat the mixture for a couple of seconds until it is slightly warm.
  3. Rub the oil mixture into your scalp with your fingertips.
  4. Massage your scalp for about 15 minutes.
  5. Leave the mixture on for about another 30 minutes.
  6. Wash your hair with a mild sulfate-free shampoo.
  7. Let your hair air dry.

2. Saw Palmetto Extract

This extract may help minimize the production of DHT and reduce hair loss (3).

You Will Need

  • 4 drops of saw palmetto extract
  • 1 teaspoon of warm water
Process
  1. Dilute the saw palmetto extract with warm water.
  2. Massage the solution into your scalp.
  3. Leave the extract on for an hour
  4. Wash your hair with a mild sulfate-free shampoo.
  5. Let your hair air dry.

3. Pumpkin Seed Oil And Saw Palmetto

Pumpkin seed oil may also help block DHT production (6). It also may help stimulate hair regrowth (7).

You Will Need

  • 6-8 drops of saw palmetto oil
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seed oil
Process
  1. Mix both the oils in a bowl.
  2. Heat the oil mixture for a couple of seconds until it is slightly warm.
  3. Rub the oil into your scalp with your fingertips.
  4. Massage your scalp for about 15 minutes.
  5. Leave the oil on for an additional 30 minutes.
  6. Wash your hair with a mild sulfate-free shampoo.
  7. Let your hair air dry.

4. Jaborandi And Saw Palmetto

Jaborandi is a well-known homeopathic remedy for hair loss. Extracts of jaborandi leaves contain pilocarpine that may help combat hair loss (8). However, more research is warranted in this regard.

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of jaborandi oil
  • 6-8 drops of saw palmetto oil
Process
  1. Mix both the oils in a bowl.
  2. Heat the oil blend for a couple of seconds until it is slightly warm.
  3. Rub the blend into your scalp with your fingertips.
  4. Massage your scalp for about 15 minutes.
  5. Leave the oil on for an additional 30 minutes.
  6. Wash your hair with a mild sulfate-free shampoo.
  7. Let your hair air dry.

5. Saw Palmetto And Aloe Vera

Aloe vera helps maintain the pH balance of your scalp and strengthens your hair follicles. Its antimicrobial properties may help soothe scalp itching or aggravation (9).

You Will Need

  • 2 teaspoons of ground saw palmetto
  • 1 tablespoon of pure aloe vera gel (extracted from the leaf or store-bought)
Process
  1. Mix the aloe vera and this, add 2 teaspoons of ground saw palmetto.
  2. Apply this mixture to the affected areas on your scalp.
  3. Leave the mixture on for 15 minutes and rinse with cool water.
  4. Optionally, you can also rinse your hair with a mild sulfate-free shampoo. Ensure you do not shampoo your hair more than thrice a week.

In addition to topical application, consuming saw palmetto may also help treat hair loss. It is important to take the herb in the right dosage.

Saw Palmetto Dosage For Hair Loss

Saw palmetto seems to be more effective when taken as a fruit or supplement. The recommended dosage of a saw palmetto supplement in adults is 160 mg twice a day (3). Consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

 

How Long Does Saw Palmetto Take To Treat Hair Loss?

You need to use saw palmetto regularly for 2-3 months to see any significant results. However, in some cases, the results may take up to a year to show. This information is based on anecdotal evidence.

Saw palmetto may also cause side effects in some cases. You must know them before you start using it.

Side Effects And Precautions

Saw palmetto is generally considered safe. A high intake of saw palmetto for a long time may cause mild headaches, nausea, vomiting, and stomach upset (10), (11). It also may increase the risk of bleeding (12). Avoid intake before surgery. Consult your doctor. The safety of saw palmetto during pregnancy or breastfeeding is yet to be studied. Stay safe and avoid use.

There is some concern that saw palmetto might cause liver damage in certain individuals (13). It also may reduce the levels of prostate-specific antigen in males, making the early detection of prostate cancer difficult (14).

Saw palmetto might also interact with a few medications, including blood thinners like warfarin. Do not take the herb along with blood thinners (15).

Saw palmetto has been used by Native Americans for centuries to treat a wide variety of medical conditions. Studies suggest that topical application of saw palmetto may inhibit the action of the DHT hormone which is responsible for hair loss. Today, saw palmetto is available as a tablet, powdered capsule, and liquid extract. You can also use saw palmetto in combination with olive oil and aloe vera at home. However, overconsumption of saw palmetto for hair loss can result in nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Consult a doctor before using saw palmetto.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 900 mg of saw palmetto too much?

While saw palmetto is used in doses of 320-960 mg for up to 3 years, you should consult a doctor to ascertain the correct dosage.

Does saw palmetto make hair thicker?

Animal studies indicate that saw palmetto might help reduce hair loss, thus maintaining your hair volume. However, further human studies and research is required to substantiate the claim.

Can I leave saw palmetto overnight in my hair?

Yes. If you use hair serums or leave-in conditioners containing saw palmetto, it is safe to leave it overnight in your hair.

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. Check out our editorial policy for further details.
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Sindhu Koganti is a health and wellness writer with over 5 years of experience. She has a bachelor’s degree in... more

Dr. Shruti Chavan

(MBBS)
Dr. Shruti Chavan is a consulting dermatologist at Dr.Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic since 6 years. She is a co-committee... more

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