The Truth About Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss – Does Saw Palmetto Really Work for Hair Growth?

Serenoa Repens was used by Native Americans centuries ago in order to treat problems of the urinary tract in men. Nowadays it has been more or less widely accepted as a natural supplement which can help with benign prostate gland enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BHP).

This is where things became interesting for those who suffer from alopecia and those who research treatments for alopecia: since Finasteride (Propecia) had been used against BHP and, at the same time, it had shown to be effective against male-pattern baldness (or androgenic alopecia, affecting both men and women), it was beginning to be assumed that Serenoa Repens would offer the same benefits against alopecia.

First of all, let’s clarify that androgenic alopecia (or male-pattern baldness) is the type of alopecia which occurs primarily on the top of your head (front or mid sections for women and men and on the top-back area for men) and, at times simultaneously, on the sides (the areas around the temples). How is Serenoa Repens supposed to help against this type of alopecia?

Although the exact mechanism has not been completely proven yet, it’s supposed to work similarly to Propecia/Finasteride, namely blocking the effects that the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme has on your scalp: this enzyme has the ‘nasty habit’ of facilitating the conversion of the hormone testosterone (commonly present in everybody though in differing levels) into the ‘hair-destroyer’ dihydrotestosterone or DHT (as you may have already deduced, DHT is also responsible for benign prostatic hyperplasia). There seem to be some studies asserting that Serenoa Repens also influences sex hormones levels overall (oestrogen and testosterone).

If the above is true we have of course a viable, cheap supplement against androgenic alopecia. This is good news, of course. However, the problem is that there is still little evidence of the effectiveness of Serenoa Repens against alopecia. There is some, though not complete, evidence that this natural herbal supplement can indeed inhibit the facilitating effects of the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme on the ‘nasty’ DHT, but the clinical studies proving this are too small to be considered evidence to this date. The supporters of this herb as effective treatment against male-pattern alopecia suggest that little money has been spent on these clinical studies simply because, as in the case of all natural supplements, Serenoa Repens cannot be patented and is therefore not interesting to the big pharmaceutical companies which, according to this ‘camp’, are only interesting in ‘pushing’ their own drugs or at least drugs which can be patented thus become highly profitable.

However, I have not found a good enough number of people (online, directly, in my community, virtually, via blogs and any other way possible to me) who have been using Serenoa Repens with real results against androgenic alopecia. From the information that is available in many countries and in many formats, Serenoa Repens is not the miracle supplement against alopecia. At least not yet.

Moreover, as with many herbal supplements, Serenoa Repens has some side effects. Nothing comparable to the side effects that most traditional drugs may carry, but they exist nonetheless and it is important that you are aware of them. Most of them are mild and do not affect everybody of course: mild stomach pain, some diarrhea or constipation, some nausea, potential vomiting and, for some, bad breath. As in the case of Finasteride/Propecia (which is relatively effective against this type of alopecia), some men may notice a change in the erectile function, some breast tenderness or enlargement and, in some case, changes in sexual desire. This does not happen to everybody but if you are a man you may wish to bear it in mind. If you are a woman you this of course does not concern you, although you should avoid Serenoa Repens (as in the case of Finasteride/Propecia) if you are planning to get pregnant in the coming months or if you are already pregnant, because it may affect the male foetus.

Since it is supposedly affecting some hormones, though we have no evidence of this yet, you may wish to avoid Serenoa Repens if you suffer from hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast problems or if you are using contraceptives or hormone-replacement therapy. women’s wellness blogs

Moreover, because the chemical beta-sitosterol, which is chemically similar to cholesterol, is present in Serenoa Repens extracts, you will have to watch Serenoa Repens consumption if you have a history of high cholesterol, or a history of heart problems and of course heart attacks.

Serenoa Repens is also not indicated for those who suffer from bleedings or take ‘blood thinners’, and those who are about to have surgery or have just had surgery because it may increase the risk of bleeding (make sure at least 2 weeks pass before and after the surgery).

Finally, although not proven yet, Serenoa Repens may interfere with the absorption of the mineral iron and, if you are in particular need of this mineral (such as anaemia sufferers, menstruating women and so on), you may prefer to wait for conclusive evidence on this matter before taking this herbal supplement.


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