Saw Palmetto Clinically Shown to Help Hair Thinning

Saw palmetto for hair loss

Finding safe and natural solutions for keeping your hair healthy is a top priority here at Nutrafol. That’s why we’re excited that researchers have shown the herb saw palmetto, also known as serenoa repens, utilizes the same pathway as Propecia, an FDA approved treatment for hair loss.

Propecia vs. Saw Palmetto

The drug known as Propecia (generic name finasteride) is a fairly common treatment for male hair loss but some doctors and patients want to steer clear of this medication because of its potentially scary side effects. For men and women seeking more natural solutions, herbal supplements provide a far less risky way to maintain a head of healthy hair.

When a study showed that saw palmetto actually can help hair growth, we wanted to make sure you knew about it.

Researchers compared the efficacy of saw palmetto to Propecia in this two-year study of 100 men with hereditary male pattern hair loss. The results? While 68% of participants using Propecia showed an increase in hair growth, confirming its efficacy, 38% of participants in the group using saw palmetto alone also experienced hair growth. So while saw palmetto wasn’t as effective as the chemical drug, it was proven to work—and without the negative side effects.

Another important finding from the study was that while 38% of the saw palmetto group experienced hair growth, another 52% of the saw palmetto group experienced stabilization of loss. Slowing or stopping the progression of hair loss, in and of itself, is a desirable outcome for those fighting to preserve their hair.

Saw palmetto a natural solution for hair loss
Saw palmetto is sold in four different forms: as whole, dried berries, as a liquid extract, in tablets, and in powdered capsules.

Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss

So how does it work?

As it turns out, both the herb and the drug block the enzyme, Type II 5-alpha-reductase, from turning testosterone into DHT. As you may know, DHT is a hormone that contributes to hair-thinning by shrinking hair follicles. Smaller hair follicles means thinner hair, and nobody wants that.

Of course, taking a single herb is not a magic bullet. If only preventing hair loss were that easy! But since experts know that saw palmetto acts in a similar way to finasteride, we use the herb as part of our Synergen Complex to combat the production of DHT—one of the man culprits in male thinning. It turns out DHT not only causes hair follicles to thin over time, it can even lead to eliminating hair follicles completely. That’s why you’ve got to keep DHT levels in check.

Saw Palmetto Hair Loss Studies and Research

And rest assured, it’s not just one study that proves the power of saw palmetto. This white paper shows exactly how the herb stops the production of DHT. A small study of 10 males with androgenetic alopecia, showed a 60% improvement for those ingesting the herb. And another study, in which saw palmetto was applied topically in the form of a lotion and a shampoo for three months on 34 men and 28 women, led to a 35% increase in hair density and 67% increase in sebum reduction.

But before purchasing just any brand of serenoa repens, make sure you’re getting the real deal. Always buy from reputable companies and read the label closely to avoid unnecessary fillers. As to dosage: Several studies had participants taking 200 milligrams, twice daily, which is a good guideline to see whether saw palmetto may work for you.

Propecia Side Effects – Why Some Hair Loss Medications are not Worth it

Hair loss medication

If you suffer from severe hair loss it’s tempting to turn to a medication that’s scientifically proven to be effective, rather than trying a more time-consuming approach to see what works best for you. It’s important to realize, however, that some of the most common hair loss treatments—like Propecia—can result in unintended side effects. Let’s take a look at some of the most common Propecia side-effects, then offer some alternatives.

What is Propecia?

Propecia is the brand name of the drug finasteride which is approved for men and women in treating hair loss. Taken in the form of a pill, finasteride’s effect on the hair was actually discovered by accident. The medication was initially used to treat enlarged prostate glands, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Scientists discovered that BPH patients who also had hair loss, found their hair growing back after taking finasteride. So researchers began refining the medication and, in 1997, Merck introduced finasteride for hair loss under the name Propecia.

How the Medication Works

To understand how Propecia works, we have to understand why we lose hair. Hair loss results from a ton of different reasons, like stress, hormonal imbalance, disease, a fungal infection, surgery, or side-effects from certain medications. Just about everyone experiences hair loss at some point in their life. In fact, as many as two-thirds of American men start noticing a thinning head of hair by the age of 35. By the time men reach 50, that number grows to 85%.

The main cause of male pattern baldness is a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Some of the hormone testosterone converts into DHT in your body, which can result in a minimization and or even elimination of hair follicles. It goes without saying that fewer hair follicles results in less hair. So, if your body converts testosterone into DHT at a high rate, and you’re sensitive to this hormone, chances are you’re already seeing less hair on your scalp. But not everyone is as sensitive to the hormone’s effects, and not everyone converts testosterone into DHT at the same rate. Like a lot of things, it’s a question of genetics.

Propecia and other hair loss treatments using finasteride (like Proscar), actually work by targeting the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT in the body. If you can stop the production of this enzyme, called  5 alpha-reductase, you can slow down or prevent the body from creating excess DHT, thus protecting your hair follicles. Since the drugs address a chemical process in the body, rather than the hair follicle, they are generally very effective. But maintaining a balance of testosterone in the body is complicated—if the body has too much or too little, it can have unintended consequences.

What Propecia Side Effects Can I Expect?

When Merck originally disclosed Propecia side effects, many of them had to do with men’s sexual health. But it was later discovered that the pharmaceutical company had not told customers the whole truth. For example, negative side-effects from Propecia can sometimes persist long after you stop using the drug. In fact, more than 1,300 lawsuits have been filed accusing Merck of knowingly concealing some of the damaging effects of the drug.

Propecia side effects.
Propecia side effects include erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, and ejaculatory disorder.

Propecia received renewed attention recently when President Trump’s longtime doctor, Harold N. Bornstein, revealed that the president takes it to battle male pattern baldness.

But known Propecia side effects are no small matter (even for a sitting president), including:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Loss of libido
  • Ejaculatory disorder
  • Men over the age of 55 may experience a higher risk of developing an aggressive type of prostate cancer
  • Due to the risks the drug carries for an unborn child, pregnant women should not even touch broken or crushed Propecia pills.

But that’s not all—there are other undesirable side-effects too, like swelling in the hands and feet, dizziness, headaches and skin rashes.

Of course, not everyone taking the drug will experience negative side-effects, but the fact that they can persist years after stopping the medication is concerning.

The most recent research comes from a team at Northwestern University which studied 11,909 men who took the drug. The study, published in 2017, found that even though a relatively small amount (1.4%) of participants suffered side effects such as erectile dysfunction, the problem was significant for those who did. Even more concerning, these side effects lasted for more than 3.5 years after they stopping taking the medicine. Overall, 4.5% of the men taking these medications in the study experienced short-term erectile dysfunction.

Natural Alternatives

So you can see why we prefer natural alternatives to chemical drugs containing finasteride. Because a healthy head of hair shouldn’t require risking your sex life. In fact, Nutrafol was created as a natural choice for hair health after one of the founders experienced severe side effects from chemical drugs himself. Nutrafol can help both men and women and contains only natural ingredients and vitamins that work synergistically to promote healthy hair growth from within.

If you’re not sure your hair loss is due to DHT and male pattern baldness, try eliminating other risk factors before taking supplements or medication. Common reasons for hair loss are stress and lack of sleep. You could also lack certain vitamins or nutrients, so make sure you eat a varied diet with sufficient protein and vegetables. Also, make sure you don’t suffer from a scalp infection, and, as always, take care of your mental health as well. A positive attitude will help you deal with stress no matter what.

Impotence and Suicidal Thoughts – Propecia Side Effects You Should Know About

What are the side effects of propecia?

Propecia is a common hair loss medication containing the drug finasteride, but it’s success may come with a price. Merck, the pharmaceutical company which developed finasteride, has been accused of downplaying some scary side effects. The company has also claimed these negative effects would be reversed after ceasing to use the medication, something that’s turned out not to be the case for everyone.

What Merck Didn’t Want You to Know

In 2015, researchers published a study revealing that using finasteride triples the risk of becoming impotent, even if on low doses. Finasteride also increases the likelihood of needing prescriptions for sexual-performance medications by almost fivefold. Some of Propecia’s side effects include erectile dysfunction, ejaculation disorders, swelling of the hands and feet, skin rashes and dizziness. But it can also affect the user’s mental state, causing depression and suicidal thoughts.

Merck has been the target of some 1,400 lawsuits—some of which were presented in court during the fall of 2016. A New York judge selected the most outstanding of those cases to represent the larger group. According to the World Health Organization, another 69 men have committed suicide as a consequence of using the drug. So it seems this medication could not only render you impotent but also make you want to end your life. While it’s true that these side-effects don’t happen to the majority of users—are the risks worth it?

Side effects of using propecia
One of Propecia’s side-effects includes mental changes, caused by a decrease in the production of DHT, upsetting the production of other hormones in the brain.

Propecia Side Effects—the Study

Scientists aren’t completely sure how Propecia side effects arise but they have something to do with the enzyme type II 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme converts testosterone into its most active form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

DHT is a strong contributing factor to male pattern baldness and also can lead to enlargement of the prostate. Finasteride works by diminishing DHT levels in the body. At first the drug was only used as a treatment for prostate cancer until it was discovered that it also had a positive effect on patients’ hair growth, Propecia was developed and marketed specifically for that purpose.

However, some men experience severe side effects. In a 2015 study of 4900 men taking finasteride, 577 of them reported persistent sexual dysfunction. Thirty-nine experienced suicidal tendencies.

New Information

According to new research, mental changes while taking Propecia are a result of the decrease in the production of DHT, which disrupts the production of other hormones in the brain. According to New York neuroendocrinologist Alan Jacobs, the drug can lead to hormones like cortisol and progesterone turning into “neurosteroids” which have important behavioral purposes. This could lead the brain to exacerbate sexual problems and cause the user to become depressed or suicidal.

As early as 2012, patients began reporting serious side effects from Propecia. That lead Merck to finally start including on the label that “in some cases” the sexual side effects “continued after discontinuation of treatment.” The company also added depression as a potential side effect on the label. Interestingly, by this time, Propecia labels had already been changed in Sweden and some other European countries. Patients there started reporting persistent side effects as early as 2008. But for U.S. male patients, Merck waited until the FDA had received 421 reports of sexual dysfunction before they updated their labels.

What’s in store for Merck and Propecia use as a result of these lawsuits is yet to be seen. Ted Laszlo, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, thinks the possibility that Propecia will be discontinued is low. The plaintiffs are only seeking monetary damages and he believes their case is strong.

“Merck introduced a drug that they knew could cause sexual dysfunction in users, and they soon learned that in some users the symptoms did not resolve,” he says in an interview in Vice. “With that knowledge, they continued to market the drug for years saying that if you stopped using it, the symptoms would go away. They hid their knowledge.”