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Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss – Really?

One of the most commonly recommended treatments for hair loss, especially among men, is saw palmetto. This is considered by many to be a safer alternative to the drug finasteride, which is most commonly marketed under the name “Propecia.” While conclusive scientific evidence as to the effectiveness of saw palmetto in fighting hair loss is still pending, a growing number of men seem to swear by the stuff.

Essentially, this herb is said to inhibit the formation of DHT in the blood. DHT, short for dihydrotestosterone, is an androgen formed by a combination of “garden variety” testosterone and an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. As you may know, DHT is among the leading causes of hair loss among both men and women. As such, it should go without saying that reducing the amounts of DHT in your blood is vital.

But is saw palmetto the answer? And is this really a safe alternative to finasteride? One common misconception that’s being spread by marketers of various “natural health products” is that because something is natural, it’s automatically safe. But does this really reflect the reality? I mean, aren’t poisonous mushrooms and berries natural? This is something to very seriously consider before you blindly “trust” a natural potion.

There have actually been reported cases of side effects regarding this herb. Because the FDA doesn’t actually regulate herbal “remedies,” you are always taking a chance when investing in these types of treatments. That said, the scientific literature surrounding saw palmetto doesn’t suggest that any serious side effects threaten its users. The most common complaints generally include digestive discomfort, diarrhea, and bad breath.

Again, there are plenty of individuals who claim to have received favorable, hair restorative results from taking saw palmetto as directed. Others simply have not. While there may be some truth to this herb’s ability to block DHT in the blood stream, thereby effectively slowing or even stopping hair loss, it’s overall effectiveness pales in comparison to finasteride.

In fact, Propecia has been proven to stop hair loss in a full 83 percent of its male users. Saw palmetto doesn’t even come close to this, though its actual success rate is something of a mystery, with various reports (most likely distributed by the marketing community) circulating about. Some studies suggest that its effectiveness may be as low as zero percent… yikes!

At the end of the day, there are really only two hair loss treatments to be approved by the FDA. The DHT-blocking finasteride is one of them. The topical minoxidil (5% for men, 2% for women) is the other. Herbal solutions such as saw palmetto may have some merit, and likely pose far less of a side-effect risk. Be sure to do your research, however. You simply cannot take a “natural health product” company at their word. Check the science. Know what you’re getting!

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