Saw Palmetto And Hair Loss
Many people around the world are beginning to wonder if using saw palmetto for hair loss is an effective solution to treat it. Some are even wondering if it can give a boost to thinning hair.
Previously we have seen exactly why saw palmetto is being recommended as a treatment for hair loss more and more frequent and whether or no the facts actually support the claims being made.
Saw Palmetto: What Is It?
Using Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss
Saw palmetto, particularly it’s essential extract, comes from the fruit grown by the serenoa. When this plant reopens, a palm grows out of it. It takes the form of a shrub in cooler climates, but in warmer climates, it can become a full fledged tree. This particularly true of the subtropical climates in the southeast United States.
The name of the plant comes from its leaves, which early colonists deemed to resemble the teeth of a saw. The plant grows white flowers that go on to product berries. These berries are initially yellow, but eventually ripen into a blackish brown shade. Once the berries are ripe, they can be dried out and used for their many medicinal properties.
Over the centuries, saw palmetto has been important to traditional herbal medicine. The Seminole First Nations used the plant as an antiseptic. Other nations such as the Choctaw, Taino and Creek found their own uses for the plant, often times to treat urinary problems and reproductive system problems. The Mayans in particular consumed it as a medicinal tonic.
In recent times, it has found use as a new treatment for benign prostatic hypertrophy, also known as an enlarged prostate. The Mayo Clinic, among others, have certified this treatment as worthwhile. The extract of the plant is a licensed product in a number of parts of the European continent. From 1906 to 1917, saw palmetto was also listed inside of the United States Pharmacopeia. Additionally, the National Formulary also listed the plant as a worthwhile element from 1926 to 1950.
Among other valuable elements in saw palmetto, the plant has a number of phytosterols, flavanoids and useful fatty acids. It also has a number of polysaccharides with a high molecular weight, which some research from the University of Maryland Medical Center indicates is good for the immune system and can act as type of anti-inflammatory.
Is Saw Palmetto Recommended for Hair Loss?
When it was discovered that saw palmetto may stop the body’s produced testosterone from combining with the type 2 alpha reductase (an enzyme the human body also produces), many experts began to wonder if the plant had even more amazing properties.
When type 2 alpha reductase and testosterone combine, they form a biological chemical known as dihydrotestosterone, also called DHT.
This substance is known to contribute to the pattern baldness of both genders. This is because it binds itself to the part of the head known as the scalp follicle receptors. This causes these receptors, responsible for the growth of hair, to shrink to the point of being unable to support hair. In blocking the body’s production of DHT, the extract of saw palmetto seems to act in a similar pattern as the medication known as finasteride, known by the trade name of Propecia as a treatment for male pattern baldness.
Women are almost never prescribed this drug because it has been shown to cause birth defects and has a tendency to cause problems with the body’s hormonal balance. Many see saw palmetto as a viable alternative to finasteride as a means to reduce hair loss.
The Medical Evidence: Does Saw Palmetto Treat Hair Loss?
The Mayo Clinic, among others, feels there is some evidence for the usefulness of saw palmetto for hair loss. It has been rated a “C” for its use as a hair loss remedy. This classification is given to treatments that have been studied and returned unclear evidence of its usefulness, but with just enough evidence that more studies would be justified.
One particular study of the extract of saw palmetto focused on ten men with mild to moderate male pattern baldness. The use of saw palmetto extract did produce some noticeable improvement in their hair condition. But with only ten participants, the data is not terribly meaningful or conclusive and no serious conclusions were drawn.
A somewhat more upbeat study focused on fifty men who were given a product made of topical serenoa repens for six months. Hair growth was reported after three and six months. The men involved were reportedly satisfied with the end results of the test and experienced very few side effects.
That said, only a small group of people were the focus of the study, and the study was done for no more than six months, a relatively short period of time. In medical science terms, this is certainly not long enough to establish a certifiable medical benefit for hair loss.
A further study, presented at a Singapore dermatology conference, noted similar results, and indeed, even cited an increase in hair growth and quality. Researchers concluded that the resulting increase in hair growth was absolutely due to the chemical interactions between the human body and the seronoa repens extract, which all the people at the conference knew to prevent the shift of testosterone to DHT.
Additionally, the conference presented findings indicating that DHT bounds to I-cystine in the keratogentic level of the hair.
These studies represent the small but potentially significant research into the medical properties of saw palmetto done in the world of medical research.
However, using saw palmetto for hair loss does have a bit more support inside the field of medicine.
Dr. Eric Yarnell quotes a wide range of successes in the research that combined the skin application of the extract of saw palmetto with orally taken cystine.
Another researcher, Dr. James Duke PhD, who authored a book about herbal medicine titled “The Green Pharmacy” is adamant that saw palmetto is a useful treatment for hair loss. In another book, titled “Dr. Duke’s Essential Herbs” he bluntly states that there have been case studies of the uncontrolled variety that indicate that saw palmetto can actually trigger the regrowing of hair.
Saw Palmetto For Hair Loss- Is It A Good Idea?
Of course, before it can be determined how to stop hair loss, it must first be noted that one should determine the cause of the hair. However, this step is often overlooked by many people in a frantic realization of hair loss.
There are not yet any truly universal hair loss solutions that will work to counter all all kinds of hair loss. It is entirely necessary to find out what the cause of the problem is and from there seek an appropriate solution.
For instance, many people who tie their hair back frequently, or wear hair weaves or hair extensions, may find themselves suffering from traction alopecia, particularly in the case of cheap hair extensions.
For more information about this condition, visit our page on traction alopecia.
You may also be afflicted with a difficult scalp condition, for instance tinea capitis, that hinders or even damages the growth of hair on the scalp.
Other possible causes of hair loss include a diet that is low in iron, hormonal levels going dangerously off balance or at times even a thyroid dysfunction.
There are many potential causes for hair loss, some of them the result of poor self care and others more deep seeded than even that.
Saw palmetto is not a very good solution to any of the problems above. It will not produce very good results if any, and will only be useful for people suffering from female pattern baldness. Reports of the use of saw palmetto to treat these conditions are mixed, usually with limited mention of success. A few studies on women even reported an increase in hair shedding once the topical saw palmetto extract was applied to their scalp, though some types of saw palmetto extract are taken orally instead.
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