Serenoa repens is the medical name for the herb saw palmetto. The deep red fruit of this small palm grows wild in warm climates such as those found in the Southeastern United States.
The liposerolic extract of the fruit of Saw Palmetto is the most popular herbal supplement for the promotion of prostate health in Europe.
Research has shown that the herb Saw Palmetto has the same effects as finasteride in treating patients with benign prostate enlargement. In fact, the herb is very popular and common in Germany and is available as an over-the-counter medication. There are many research and studies in Germany that confirm the effectiveness of Saw Palmetto in treating patients with prostatic disease.
Studies have shown that saw palmetto is an effective anti-androgen. It acts in a similar way that Propecia does. Firstly it lowers levels of DHT in the body by blocking 5 alpha-reductase. Secondly Saw Palmetto block receptor sites on cell membranes required for cells to absorb DHT. Although no studies have been carried out on saw palmetto and its relationship to hair growth.
Studies have been performed on the use of Saw palmetto in the treatment of benign prostatic disease which similar to Androgenetic Alopecia and also depends on the production of dihydrotestosterone(DHT). All of the studies that have been performed to date show that Saw palmetto is an effective anti-androgen and has shown conclusively to be effective in the treatment of benign prostate disease.
More and more people around the globe are starting to use Saw palmetto in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasma and in the treatment of Androgenetic alopecia
One may assume from this that since Saw palmetto is an effective antiandrogen and is used in the treatment of prostatic disease then it may also be effective in the treatment of Androgenetic alopecia.
Some studies have shown that saw palmetto may have the same effect as the drug finasteride in treating hair loss and prostate enlargement diseases. It has been suggested that both hair loss and prostate disease are related to the hormone DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) which is formed when the enzyme 5-alpha reductase interacts with the male hormone testosterone.
Finasteride works as an 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. It reduces the amount of 5-alpha reductase in our body and thereby reduces the formation of DHT, which is the main cause for hair loss and prostatic disease. DHT is formed when 5-alpha reductase interacts with the male hormone testosterone. DHT is a derivate of testosterone but is many times more potent. Hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT tend to fall off when exposed to the hormone.
Since both hair loss and prostatic disease are related to DHT, many suggest that Saw Palmetto will also be effective in treating people with hair loss by reducing the amount of DHT in our body and around the hair follicles. Although there is no formal study or testing to confirm the effectiveness of Saw Palmetto in treating hair loss, many companies are already preparing topical hair lotions that are formulated with Saw Palmetto.
No significant side effects have been noted in clinical trials with this herbal extract, except for rare headache or stomach upset if taken on an empty stomach.
Because of possible hormonal activity, it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
How much to take?
As a general guideline, a common dose for men is 320 mg. of extract per day, standardized to at least 85-95% fatty acids with a guaranteed minimum of 0.2-0.4% sterols. ("Standardized" means you get the same amount of active ingredients every time).
You may decide to start with a somewhat lower dose. In men, it can be taken for six weeks before any effect is noticed.
If improvement is noted, it is recommended that men take it continuously. Since you're trying to reduce DHT like the men are, you could do the same.