Saw palmetto, a small plant native to the southeastern United States, has been used by herbalists and natural healers for years to treat hair loss and prostate problems. Native Americans used the plant to treat urinary retention in older men who had trouble urinating. Several studies have proven the herb's effectiveness for treating benign prostate hypertrophy and preliminary evidence suggests it may even help treat prostate cancer.

Animal studies have proven that saw palmetto inhibits the body's production of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme responsible for converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink and enter a permanent dormant state when the body produces too much of the compound. For this reason, saw palmetto is often suggested as a hair loss natural remedy. It is believed to work similarly to finasteride, also known as Propecia, for treating, preventing and even reversing hair loss. In one small study, 6 out of 10 participants experienced improvement after treatment with saw palmetto.

While further studies are needed, the herb produces no significant side effects and may encourage hair regrowth. Always consult a qualified medical practitioner before taking any new natural remedies, especially if you're currently taking prescription medications. Do not take the herb with hair loss medications such as Propecia, as this may adversely affect hormone levels in the body.

In rare cases, saw palmetto may cause mild side effects including mild abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and constipation. Like Propecia, the herb may cause a lowering of libido in some people, though this happens only infrequently. For the best results, discontinue use if you experience any of these problems. Follow the suggestions below for taking saw palmetto for hair loss to avoid complications and to get the most out of the treatment.
  • Do not take dried saw palmetto berries, as they won't have the desired effect and won't inhibit DHT production. Instead, use only saw palmetto capsules made from the berry extract.
  • Only take saw palmetto extract that has the following information on the label: Concentrated and purified, 85 to 95 percent fatty acids and sterols. Only products with these specifications will reduce hair loss.
  • Take 160 mg capsule twice daily – one in the morning and one each night. Continue indefinitely to promote hair growth unless you experience discomfort.
Saw palmetto is arguably the safest and best hair loss natural remedy when taken as directed. Plus, you'll be strengthening and protecting your prostate when you take it for hair loss. It helps prevent enlargement, inflammation, infection and cancer. It works best for sufferers of male pattern baldness, of course, as women usually have a lower amount of testosterone in their bodies.