Just like many other guys around the world, you’re living with male pattern baldness. As of now, there’s no proven cure for this type of hair loss, though two medications – finasteride and minoxidil – can help prevent more hair loss and even promote hair regrowth for some. If those options interest you, you should definitely ask your physician about them.

No matter what you decide to do in terms of medication, though, you should still be taking measures to take care of the hair you do have, no matter how much of it there is. There are many different natural remedies out there you can try to keep your hair strong and healthy, such as saw palmetto.

What is saw palmetto?

Put simply, saw palmetto (also called Serenoa repens) is a type of palm tree that grows in southeastern states like Florida. Unlike the traditional palm trees you may be thinking of, saw palmetto is much shorter and shrub-like. Because of this, it’s called the “cabbage palm” or “American dwarf palm tree.”

Saw palmetto plants have berries, which produce an extract, of which approximately 90% is fatty acids and sterols (a type of lipid).

What are the benefits of using saw palmetto on your hair?

Though there aren’t enough studies to prove saw palmetto can prevent hair loss, the extract is one of the most talked-about natural DHT (dihydrotestosterone) blockers. This is because it’s believed that the fatty acids in saw palmetto extract can target and inhibit 5α-reductase (5-alpha-reductase), the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. Since a genetic sensitivity to DHT causes male pattern baldness, the more you can block it, the better.

One study concluded that using saw palmetto extract significantly encouraged follicle growth and lessened inflammatory response, which is important because inflammation can damage hair follicles and interfere with their ability to grow hair. In another study on the efficacy of topical saw palmetto, 48% of participants experienced hair growth.

But is saw palmetto really effective at stopping hair loss?

Ultimately, though, the existing studies show finasteride works for more people. Researchers found that, when comparing the two, the finasteride worked to stop hair loss for 68% of participants while saw palmetto extract only boosted hair growth in 38%. However, it should be noted that the medication was more effective in the individuals who had less advanced male pattern baldness (and also that another finasteride study shows up to a 90% success rate).

What forms does saw palmetto come in (and what’s best for your hair)?

Saw palmetto comes in a few different forms, including topical and oral. You can apply saw palmetto extract directly by using it in its serum form or buying a natural shampoo or lotion in which it’s an ingredient. In a slightly larger study with 62 men and women, applying saw palmetto-infused shampoo or lotion for three months increased hair density by 35%.

Looking for a shampoo infused with saw palmetto? Keeps Thickening Shampoo was formulated by hair loss experts to make thinning hair look as thick as possible while protecting against future loss. Get started here.

Saw palmetto can also be found in capsule form, though you should definitely consult with your doctor before starting any type of supplement.

As of now, there’s not enough concrete proof that saw palmetto will prevent hair loss. Even though it’s popular, we still need to see more research on its efficacy. Despite this, it can certainly help you keep your hair strong and healthy. If you’re looking for additional natural ingredients that will do the same, try caffeine, green tea, and biotin. And, if you want to go the medication route to prevent your hair loss in addition to keeping it looking its best, talk to a doctor about finasteride and minoxidil.

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

If you would like to learn more about finasteride, please see the full prescription information here. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: https://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm   or call 1-800-FDA-1088

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