What is Saw Palmetto?
Saw palmetto is an extract made from the deep purple colored berries of a plant known as saw palmetto fan palm (Serenoa repens). It is found growing naturally at the coast of the southern United States and southern California.
Saw palmetto berries contain sterols and lipids, including relatively high concentrations of free and bound sitosterols: anthranilic acid, caproic acid, β-carotene, capric acid, caprylic acid, mannitol, ferulic acid, β-sitosterol, linoleic acid, β-sitosterol-D-glucoside, , myristic acid, oleic acid, 1-monolaurin, palmitic acid and 1-monomyristin.
Saw palmetto inhibits 5-alpha reductase which helps in conversion of the hormone testosterone to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Saw palmetto may also show competitive inhibition of DHT binding to receptors.
Binds to receptors in the lower urinary tract, such as muscarinic cholinoceptors, alpha(1)-adrenoceptors, vanilloid receptors and 1,4-dihyropyridine receptors.
β-Sitosterol may be: antiandrogenic, antifertility, antiinflammatory, antileukemic, antimutagenic, antiophidic (inhibits effect of snake bite), antiprostatadenomic, antiprostatitic, antitumor, estrogenic, hepatoprotective, hypocholesterolemic, hypoglycemic, antibacterial, and antifungal.
No interactions with drugs taken along with saw palmetto.
No life threatening reactions, suggesting its relative safety even with ingestion of for long duration.
β-Sitosterol is absorbed through small intestine.
β-sitosterol is distributed to the liver, kidney, stomach, spleen, and oesophagus.
β-sitosterol gets converted into C24 bile acids.
In bile and in faeces.
Distribution half-life of β-sitosterol in a beagle dog is 3 hours & its terminal distribution half life is 129 hours. Upon ingestion, absolute bioavailability of β-sitosterol is 9%.
1) Growth: A normal process of increase in size of an organism as a result of increase of tissue similar to that originally present.
2) Regeneration: The natural renewal of a structure.
3) Recovery: Return to health.
4) Repair: The physical or mechanical restoration of damaged or diseased tissues by growth of healthy cells or surgery.
5) Alopecia: a disease in which the hair falls out; baldness; absence of hair from skin areas where it is normally present.
6) Androgenetic alopecia:
- Also known as male pattern alopecia or male pattern baldness.
- A progressive, diffuse symmetric loss of hair, in men beginning in the twenties or early thirties with hair loss from the vertex and frontoparietal regions and ultimately leaving only a sparse peripheral rim of scalp hair.
- A progressive, diffuse symmetric loss of hair, in women beginning somewhat later with less severe hair loss in the frontocentral area of the scalp.
Serenoa repens f. glauca Moldenke
Saw Palmetto is also known as Sabal serrulata or Sabal serrulatum.
Sabal, scrub palm, American dwarf palm tree, fan palm, cabbage palm.
Traditional use of Saw palmetto:
The fruit has been originally used as a food source by American Indians.
The early American Indians and Mayans have used it as an herb for taking care of many complaints ranging from digestive troubles to infections, inflammation & fatigue.
Cause of Androgenetic alopecia:
The hormone testosterone when gets converted into a chemical molecule called DHT causes hair follicles to reduce in size & number, resulting in loss of hair.
Males have more testosterone than females do, so balding is commonly seen in males.
How does hair fall affect an individual?
Hair fall shatters self-confidence and self esteem of those who suffer from it.
Fortunately, Saw palmetto works for both the genders.
Many people prefer saw palmetto over other hair loss treatments. This is because the other treatment measures have severe side effects as compared to saw palmetto.
Saw palmetto is also the preferred choice of treatment among those who suffer from hair loss and who have tried available treatment options, without much benefit.
As saw palmetto is an herbal supplement, it has minimal side effects, which may happen rarely and mildly. Migraine & nausea have been rarely reported.
Saw palmetto and biotin taken together as a combination has shown best results when compared to either of them taken individually!
Effect of Saw Palmetto – on hair & arresting the hair fall:
Saw palmetto may inhibit an enzyme known as 5-alpha-reductase, which helps in conversion of the hormone testosterone to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT is the molecule responsible for hair loss.
So saw palmetto is able to nip the problem in the bud!
Saw palmetto is anti-androgenic. Androgens are the male hormones responsible for hair loss. The hair loss gradually stops in absence of androgens. Thus saw palmetto helps in reducing the frequency & severity of hair fall.
Saw palmetto in addition to stopping hair fall, also slowly smoothens the skin.
Those who take saw palmetto supplements report an improvement of 50-60% in the condition of the hair. The hair returns to former thickness and density. This effect is noticed after regularly consuming saw palmetto for a year or two.
Metabolism of the user's body may also play a role as to how fast the beneficial effects of saw palmetto are visible. Thus positive effects of saw palmetto will vary from person to person.
Having a balanced & nutritious diet and avoiding foods that are known to enhance hair loss will help reducing the hair fall & may reverse the process.
Recurrence of hair fall after stopping saw palmetto has also been reported to drastically reduce. This definitely shows that saw palmetto improved the condition of hair loss.
Use of saw palmetto during pregnancy & lactation:
The use of saw palmetto before, during & after pregnancy and breastfeeding is not documented. So it is best to consult the gynaecologist or the physician regarding use of saw palmetto.
Saw palmetto and family planning (contraception):
Saw palmetto may affect efficacy of contraceptives in females. So it is important to inform the doctor and take his advice regarding usage of saw palmetto during the period of family planning.
Saw palmetto is not soluble in water and is soluble in fat.
Available forms of Saw Palmetto:
- For consumption: Whole dried berries, capsules, soft gels, tablets, liquid extract, tea.
- For local application: Hair oil.
Advantages & disadvantages of different types of available forms of saw palmetto:
Advantage: accurate & convenient. No after-taste.
Disadvantage: may be large , so may be difficult to take in those who have swallowing difficulty.
2) SOFT GELS
Advantage: small and easy to swallow. Quickly absorbed in the system, ensuring full benefits of the intake.
Disadvantage: may be a slight after-taste.
Disadvantage: may fail to open up properly in the digestive system, thus rendering the medicine ineffective. One should not chew or crush tablets to overcome this problem.
4) LIQUID EXTRACT
Advantage: may be mixed with beverages or can be directly consumed from the bottle itself. It assures complete absorption in the body.
Disadvantage: taste is bitter even when mixed with juice or beverages, leaving an unpleasant after-taste.
5) Saw palmetto may be taken as TEA, but it is not soluble in water.
Advantage: Those who enjoy tea will like it. But for maximum absorption, tea mixed with fats, thus making saw palmetto soluble will help.
Disadvantage: 3-4 cups of tea will be needed to fulfil the requirement and get full benefit.
6) HAIR OIL
Saw palmetto hair oil is not meant for internal use. It had to be applied externally only.
Two tablespoon of oil should be applied directly to scalp and the skin of the scalp should be massaged for at least 10 minutes. The oil should then be kept for at least an hour before rinsing of the residual part. Such a practice on daily basis gives maximum benefit. Along with oil used externally, internal usage of saw palmetto is recommended.