Hair loss is an unfortunate side effect of aging that almost all men and some women experience. Fortunately, there are many treatments for hair loss, from medications to natural supplements. To avoid side effects, more and more people are choosing to try natural supplements first.
One such natural supplement is saw palmetto—a type of palm tree with small berries. Native to the southeastern United States, saw palmetto has been used by Native Americans as food and to treat conditions, including hair loss, for hundreds of years.
How Can Saw Palmetto Support Hair Loss?
Sourced from the plant’s berries, saw palmetto extracts have been shown to help slow or reduce androgenic alopecia—the type of hereditary hair loss more commonly known as male- or female-pattern baldness.
Saw palmetto is thought to work by inhibiting the activity of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts the hormone testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).[*] DHT is a molecule responsible for the onset and progression of androgenic alopecia.
What Does Research Say About Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss?
Research on saw palmetto’s effect on hair loss is limited, but very promising. A 2019 review published in the Archives of Dermatological Research lists saw palmetto as one of the plants with the most evidence supporting its effect against hair loss.[*]
Another 2019 review concluded that saw palmetto—taken orally or used topically (on the scalp)—has clinical benefits and might be a good alternative for men who can’t or don’t want to take prescription hair loss medication.[*]
The Bottom Line on Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss
Although the research on saw palmetto for hair loss is very encouraging, it shouldn’t be viewed as a 100% proven hair loss treatment just yet. That being said, saw palmetto supplements are considered safe and are well worth trying if you’re experiencing hair loss.
As with starting any new supplement, check in with your healthcare provider before taking saw palmetto, especially if you’re currently taking prescription hair loss medications.