Saw palmetto is probably the most popular herbal remedy used to treat male and female pattern baldness. This type of hair loss is known as androgenic alopecia, where the most thinning occurs at the top of the head or surrounding the temples. Saw palmetto is a short palm plant that can be found growing along the Atlantic coast in Florida and Georgia. The active ingredients come from its brown-black berries. The plant is also used widely in Europe for symptoms associated with enlargement of the prostrate gland. The Native Americans also used saw palmetto to relieve and treat urinary conditions in older men who had difficulty urinating.

No one is exactly sure the exact mechanism of action, but some research studies tell us that saw palmetto blocks the enzyme responsible for producing the hormone that causes baldness. There is one study that demonstrates six out of ten balding men benefited from the treatment. However, this study is way too small to form any concrete conclusions.

Like other hair loss supplements, saw palmetto extract does come with a list of potential side effects. The most common side effects include mild abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and other problems associated with the digestive tract including bad breath. Some men taking supplements have reported erectile dysfunction, lack of sexual desire, breast tenderness, and breast enlargement. This is most likely due to the fact that saw palmetto may influence levels of sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. In very rare cases, people have reported other side effects including dizziness, insomnia, depression, difficulty breathing, chest pain, high blood pressure, liver inflammation, and heart disease. Although it's possible these side effects were not directly related to taking saw palmetto.

Until we know more about how saw palmetto works, people with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer should proceed with caution. In addition, it also makes sense that ingestion of this herbal supplement may interfere with the effectiveness of oral contraceptives and hormone therapy medications.

If you're taking hormone medications for hair loss, such as Propecia, you should stay away from saw palmetto since combining the two types of therapy may cause serious side effects. Saw palmetto should also not be used if you're taking blood thinners. You should also know that the safety of the supplement has not been tested on pregnant or nursing women as well as people with kidney or liver disease.

Saw palmetto extract may or may not be one of the best natural hair loss remedies available on the market today. However, you should discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with the supplement with your doctor to see if it may be worth considering.