Against hair loss, but also seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp and brittle hair, from today there is an additional ally to count on, a small American palm, the serenoa repens, whose extracts are called saw palmetto. Saw palmetto, whether used as an oral supplement or as a topical cosmetic, has been shown to be beneficial to counteract hair loss and excessive sebum production that can affect the skin and also to give strength and body to the hair. This emerges from a recent review that appeared in the Skin Appendage Disorders magazine thanks to the work of an American team from the University of California (Evron et al, Skin Appendage Disord, 2020).
The benefits of saw palmetto
An extract called saw palmetto is obtained from the berries of the serenoa repens dwarf palm. Saw palmetto contains fatty acids, phytosterols, beta carotene and vitamins E. The characteristic of saw palmetto is that it has an antiandrogenic action, that is, capable of preventing the effects of androgens on the most sensitive tissues of the body. Precisely for this property, saw palmetto can be used in case of benign prostatic hypertrophy. However, the most famous application of saw palmetto is related to hair health, being used as an aid in case of androgenetic alopecia, the most common cause of hair loss in men, but also telogen effluvium, which is an intense hair loss, but temporary, and seborrheic dermatitis. The review analyzes the results of studies bout saw palmetto in these cases to evaluate its real effectiveness.
Saw palmetto stimulates hair regrowth
What emerges from the review is that both the oral use, through supplements, and the topical use, through shampoos or specific products, of saw palmetto allowed hair regrowth in the presence of alopecia androgenetics and telogen effluvium. Not only that, these products have also made the hair less brittle and more full-bodied. In general, the number of hairs increased from 4 to 27% in almost all of the study participants and the quality of the hair improved in more than 60% of the volunteers who underwent treatment, appearing less fragile and more full-bodied. Finally, saw palmetto also shows an anti-inflammatory effect, useful in case of skin inflammations such as seborrheic dermatitis that can affect the scalp.
Saw palmetto, warnings
Saw palmetto is generally well tolerated. However, given its ability to act on a hormonal level, other long-term studies will have to follow to test its total safety. In any case, especially in the case of oral intake, ask your doctor for advice before starting any treatment.