Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto is an extract of the fruit of Serenoa Repens. It is rich in fatty acids and phytosterols. This herb has been shown to inhibit the production of DHT, an important androgenic hormone that can cause problems like balding and prostate enlargement. Because it blocks DHT it has been claimed to be effective along with 5% Minoxidil in the management of common baldness. However, proper medical studies to prove such a claim are lacking.
Saw Palmetto extracts have been claimed to have several effects:

  1. Reduces DHT which causes baldness and prostate enlargement as stated above.
  2. Corrects hormone imbalance both in men and women.
  3. Helps build and strengthen tissue and increase metabolism.
  4. Acts a diuretic which improves urinary flow.
  5. As an expectorant, it relieves chronic bronchitis, asthma and chest congestion.
  6. It has been tried in thyroid disorders.
  7. It stimulates appetite, digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  8. Acts as an aphrodisiac because it is said to increase libido and treat erectile dysfunction.
  9. Reported to be of use in breast enhancement.
  10. Has also been used in polycystic ovary disease.

TYPES: There are 2 kinds of herb palmetto supplements available in the market. One type is dried saw palmetto berries and the other type saw palmetto extract in the form of tablets.
Recommended dose is 160mg twice a day. However, it should be taken in consultation with your doctor.
SIDE EFFECTS: It has a low toxicity. The most common side effects is mild stomach discomfort which can be alleviated by taking it after food. The worries raised by some regarding possible prostate cancer by its interfering with PSA levels has been shown to be incorrect.
SCIENTIFIC STUDIES: Searching the literature, no double blind studies have been carried out to assess the efficacy of saw palmetto in common baldness either in men or women.
Saw Palmetto has not yet been approved by FDA in alopecia androgenetica.
Considering its benefits in enlarged prostate and its effects on 5 alpha reductase enzyme, it might be an alternative in those patients in whom Finasteride causes significant sexual dysfunctions.

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