Reduce PCOS Thinning Hair & Excessive Body Hair Growth With Saw Palmetto

Reduce PCOS Thinning Hair & Excessive Body Hair Growth With Saw Palmetto

One of the most difficult side effects of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) for some women, is hair thinning and/or excess facial and body hair growth known as Hirsutism. Not all women with PCOS experience this, but many do. It can be extremely hard to control and embarrassing; lowering the quality of life for these women.

In women with Hirsutism related to PCOS, there is a link pointing to excessive androgenic hormones. These androgenic hormones include testosterone, androstenedione, and DHEA. Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of the androgen testosterone. Testosterone present in excessive levels, as found in some women with PCOS, is converted to much stronger dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase. DHT is thought to be responsible for male pattern baldness in men, but also thinning hair in women. This may also cause excessive hair growth in unwanted areas in women, especially on the face.

A study performed in 2009 by the Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, at the University of Birmingham, UK, found that both obese and normal weight women with PCOS had higher levels of 5 alpha-reductase than women with the same BMI’s that do not have PCOS. The study shows that women with PCOS have the ability to convert testosterone to DHT more easily than women who do not have PCOS. This creates excessive levels of DHT in women with PCOS. This is why women with PCOS often have Hirsutism.

The berries of Saw Palmetto have been found to inhibit DHT production by reducing 5 alpha-reductase production, which may help prevent Hirsutism in women with PCOS.

What is Saw Plametto?

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a small palm. It is the only plant species classified in the genus Serenoa. It is native to the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains of the United States. This plant is a 70 million dollar-a-year industry for the state of Florida due to its medicinal actions. Parts of the Saw Palmetto that are used are the berries, heart of the palm and the fronds. The berry looks much like an olive. The berry has been said to taste like an intense sweet, slight vanilla flavor at first, then like a very strong blue cheese ending in tobacco or pepper juice flavor. This sounds pretty disgusting and may be why this plant is most often taken by capsule or liquid extract.

Coastal Native American Indians ate Saw Palmetto berries regularly to sustain health. They are very high in essential fatty acids and natural sugars. The berries were used to treat debilitating conditions as a general tonic. Older Seminole Indians called the berries the “spring of life”. Today Saw Palmetto is most popular for being used as a natural medicine for improving prostate health in men.

How Does Saw Palmetto Work to Reduce the Incidence of Hirsutism?

It appears Saw Palmetto may aid PCOS Hirsutism in the following ways…

  • Increases DHT breakdown
  • Inhibits DHT production
  • Reduces 5 alpha-reductase activity
  • Inhibits DHT binding to androgen receptor sites

Many naturopathic physicians have found that Saw Palmetto greatly helps women grow their thinning head hair back, while also reducing unwanted facial and body hair growth.

Other Ways Saw Palmetto May Help With PCOS
Women with PCOS usually have high levels of estrogen, and low levels of progesterone; known as estrogen dominance. This may cause uterine hypertrophy, also known as endometrial hyperplasia. Excessive levels of estrogen may cause excessive cell proliferation of the endometrium. The endometrium is the inner-most layer of the uterus. Saw Palmetto is strengthening for the body tissues, aiding in proper formation and function of the uterine cells. It has also been found to lower the incidence of acne associated with PCOS.

Suggested Dosage for Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto takes time to be effective. It is suggested for use over a 6 week period, taking notes of any improvements over that time. If improvements are noted, it may be continued on for best results.

Suggested Dosage Capsule: 400mg capsule a day
Suggested Dosage Liquid Extract: 1 tsp. liquid extract a day

*Saw Palmetto combines well with Vitex, Licorice Rt. and Nettles Root for reduction of PCOS. Licorice has also been found to reduce serum testosterone levels in women with PCOS.

*Saw Palmetto also combines well with Damiana to support healthy libido. Equal ratio 1:1 for increasing libido.

Because this plant has anti-androgenic effects, manipulating some hormone levels in the body, it is not suggested for combination with any type of medications for fertility that also affect hormone levels. Speak with your doctor prior to using Saw Palmetto if you plan on taking medications for PCOS. Do not use Saw Palmetto prior to getting hormone testing for any fertility issue. Saw Palmetto may effect the test results. Do not use Saw Palmetto during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Saw Palmetto has been found safe for long-term use in most cases. Talk to your doctor or natural health care practitioner to see if Saw Palmetto is right for you.

References:
1. herbmentor.com/20101002_3/
2.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19567518?ordinalpos=12&itool=EntrezSystem2
Increased 5 alpha-reductase activity and adrenocortical drive in women with polycystic ovary syndrome,
2009 Sep;94(9):3558-66. Epub 2009 Jun 30.
3. ovarian-cysts-pcos.com/saw-palmetto.html
4. wikipedia.org/wiki/Saw_palmetto
5. wikipedia.org/wiki/Endometrial_hyperplasia
6. eattheweeds.com/saw-palmetto-saga-3/
7. The Herb Book, John Lust, Bantam Books, 1974
8. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Aviva Romm, Churchill Livingstone, 2010
9. Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Tori Hudson N.D., McGraw Hill, 2008
10. drtorihudson.com/general/endocrine-health/pcos/polycystic-ovarian-syndrome-pcos/

Comments

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[+] 13 Comments
  1. I purchased Saw palmetto by Natures Bounty and it says Promotes prostate & urinary health in men. It has 450mg per tablet. But in the back it says in the warning area “This product is intended for use by men and is not intended for use by women.”

    • Hi Melanie,

      That is so odd! Saw Palmetto is well known for prostate health in men, but I have never heard of it being used exclusively for men. If it contains other ingredients, that may be why. If it is just pure Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) berries, than it is fine for men and women. You may want to call up the makers of that product and ask them why they say it is only for men. Learn more about Saw Palmetto here…

  2. Update 2014 – We are back! We have been away for a while and we sure have missed all of your wonderful questions and thoughts on our articles. Moving forward, one of our staff herbalists will be here to respond to comments! We look forward to connecting with our readers once again!

  3. In response to MW’s comment. I have PCOS, and I have practically the same conditions as you. I am 5′ 6″ and weighed 125 before the birth of my daughter in Oct 2011. (It took many things to get her here!) Now I am on about 10 lbs away from my pre-birth weight. I have had acne for a long time, and a bit of hirtuism. But that was it, I did have a doctor tell me that I didn’t have PCOS because I wasn’t overweight… which I don’t agree with. I didn’t ovulate either, and I don’t have cycles.

    Anyway, I think that you should consider PCOS as very possible diagnosis. To be truthful, the only way that I have ever knowingly ovulated is with clomid. But I actually think that I may have naturally ovulated today; I have been taking all of the suggested herbs on this site and I think that it may worked. Good luck on your journey!

  4. I want to a naturalist and he recommended YAMS, they help the body ovulate naturally.

  5. Hi, i have pcos i have taken several homonal drug yet i dont ovulate,pls i need a solution. Thanks

  6. I would like to order saw palmetto but is unable to find it among the list available on your site. I am about to place an order now and would love to include this.

    • Hi Claudette,

      We do not carry Saw Palmetto in our Natural Fertility Shop. You can find it at your local health food store. I apologize for any inconvenience. In the future, please contact customer service for urgent emails!

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  7. I can’t believe with all the informations I got! This is such a very interesting infos….I hope many will get the chance to be informed about this PCOS thing and how the side effect can be combated. Thank you very much for this!

  8. Hello,
    I have been taking vitex for about a year now. We have figured out what my problem is–I do not ovulate. Last month, I went in for an ultrasound on day 14 and I had a 22 mm follicle so they did a trigger shot and I still didn’t ovulate. My doctors says he has never seen the trigger shot not work. For some reason my body doesn’t produce the LH surge to kick the egg out of the ovary (I never get a positive OPK). He says it may be some form of PCOS, but I don’t think it is. I weigh 120 pounds and am 5 ft. 7 in. I do have acne, but not hirsutism. Is there any natural way to make myself ovulate? My doc says IVF is the only thing left to try . . .
    Thank you,
    MW

    • Hi MW,

      It may still be possible to have PCOS even when you are thin and do not have all the symptoms. PCOS has a wide range of symptoms and is a very hard to understand syndrome. If you feel you are not getting the best options from your current doctor, you may want to seek a second opinion. Because I am not sure what your entire fertility or health history, including lifestyle is like, there is no real way for me to say if there are natural options that can help you to ovulate regularly. If your doctor is not a Reproductive Endocrinologist, I would suggest getting a referral to one.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  9. How much does Saw Palmeto cost and is it dangerous taking it when trying to conceive?
    Thank you.

    • HI LUCE,

      I am not sure how much Saw Palmetto costs, I am sure it varies by company. Be sure you are getting the highest quality organic product available, or sustainably wild-crafted. It is best to use Saw Palmetto prior to trying to conceive in preparation for pregnancy. Saw Palmetto takes time to be effective. It is suggested for use over a 6 week period, taking notes of any improvements over that time. If improvements are noted, it may be continued on for best results.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene