Saw palmetto is one of the most popular herbal supplements on the market. In fact, most of the "all natural" hair loss treatments on the market today contain saw palmetto. However, the efficacy of saw palmetto remains to be a somewhat controversial topic. Saw palmetto has been touted as the "natural" Propecia, which is a pretty bold claim. But is there any truth to this? In this article, we will be discussing saw palmetto as a hair loss treatment and comparing saw palmetto and Propecia (finasteride).
Saw Palmetto Origins
Saw palmetto is a small palm that is native to the subtropical southeastern United States, commonly found along the south atlantic and gulf coastal plains. Saw palmetto is extracted through the berries of this small palm tree. Saw palmetto is used to treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), as well as overall prostate health.
Why is Saw Palmetto Compared to Propecia
Saw palmetto has been found to be a somewhat effective 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. Propecia (finasteride) is also a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. The 5-alpha reductase enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone in to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) through the blood stream. Hair follicles, as well as sebaceous glands contain a high level of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. Therefore, inhibiting the 5-alpha reductase enzyme will significantly reduce the amount of DHT that can bind to the hair follicle androgen receptor. In essence, saw palmetto and Propecia (finasteride) should treat hair loss in the same manner, at least on paper.
What Does The Clinical Research Say About Saw Palmetto
Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot of scientific evidence to prove that saw palmetto is an effective hair loss treatment. However, in one small study of 10 males suffering from genetic hair loss roughly 60% (6/10) reported a significant improvement at the end of the study. Another study consisting of 34 men and 28 women saw a 35% increase in hair density at the end of the three month trial. It should be noted that saw palmetto was not the only "active" ingredient in the trial.
While there are a few promising studies that have been published, they are few and far in between. Today, Propecia (finasteride) is the most effective hair loss medication on the market there are countless published studies proving it's efficacy. In addition, Propecia (finasteride) is approved by the FDA to treat male pattern baldness. Unfortunately, women can not take Propecia (finasteride). Based on the few studies available however, it appears that saw palmetto may be a safe alternative for Propecia (finasteride) for women and those who can not tolerate the medication. With that said, it is not likely to be as effective as Propecia (finasteride).
Written and published by,
Melvin- Editorial Assistant and Forum Co-Moderator for the Hair Transplant Network and The Coalition of Independent Hair Restoration Physicians
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