The Benefits and Dosage of Saw Palmetto for Women with PCOS

PCOS

PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a hormone disorder that most commonly affects women between 15 to 44 years old.


According to Penn Medicine, 1 out of 10 women of childbearing age in the U.S. have the condition — that's about 5 million people according to the latest estimates.


Some common symptoms of PCOS are irregular periods, hair loss, excess facial hair, painful periods, acne, and difficulty losing weight.

PCOS is generally diagnosed based on 'Rotterdam criteria'. 

This is where you must meet at least two of the following three criteria (and other causes for these must have been excluded):

  1. Oligo-ovulation or anovulation (absent menstruation or more than 35 days between periods).

  2. Clinical and/or biochemical hyperandrogenism (high testosterone on blood tests and/or physical signs like acne and hirsutism).

  3. Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound.

Women with PCOS are usually prescribed birth control pills to regulate their hormones, but many are now exploring natural remedies such as saw palmetto to help alleviate symptoms.


Studies have shown that saw palmetto can benefit women with PCOS. Saw palmetto has adaptogenic properties, which means that it can help heal the body's fight-or-flight stress response and regulate hormones.


This is particularly helpful for women with PCOS whose bodies typically release higher amounts of the "stress hormone," cortisol.

Chronic stress, be it physical, mental, emotional, or environmental, affects the hypothalamus-adrenal axis and results in excessive levels of stress hormones that can throw the body's hormonal balance off-kilter.


And if you have PCOS, the added frustration from being diagnosed and just prescribed birth control at the doctor's office, with a "just lose weight" for good measure, can worsen matters.

Is Saw Palmetto Good for PCOS?

Many women have placed their faith in birth control pills to manage PCOS, only to be disappointed by more side effects.


So are natural supplements like saw palmetto any better?


The American dwarf palm tree, commonly referred to as saw palmetto, is a type of tree that is found in the West Indies and the southeastern coast of North America.


It typically reaches a height of six to ten feet and has fan-like leaves that resemble thorns.


Its maroon-colored and oblong-shaped berries are processed to obtain saw palmetto extract, which is used as an anti-androgen because of its phytosterol content.


Phytosterols block the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more aggressive breakdown metabolite.

Alongside lower DHT levels, many women with PCOS report skin improvements, more regular periods, reduced body hair, and reduced hair loss when supplementing Saw Palmetto.


According to Dr. Jolene Brighten, a hormone expert, medical practitioner, and nutrition scientist, saw palmetto, in combination with zinc, can have incredibly beneficial effects in reducing PCOS symptoms.


This is because both supplements reduce the DHT-making enzyme 5-alpha-reductase’s activity. 


By inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to DHT, both supplements can significantly reduce the intensity of undesirable symptoms in women with PCOS.

What are the Benefits of Saw Palmetto for PCOS?

1. Regulation of Hormonal Imbalances

Studies show that saw palmetto can support individuals with PCOS by reducing the activity of the 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme responsible for producing the androgen DHT, which enhances the effects of testosterone.


Because saw palmetto is a powerful adaptogen that stabilizes testosterone levels, it helps decrease symptoms of hyperandrogenism (elevated testosterone levels) such as hair loss, acne, irregular periods, and abnormal facial hair growth.


It does this through its high fatty acid content, which includes oleic, lauric, and linoleic acids.

PCOS is also often associated with high levels of the hormone prolactin, which can prevent the maturation of follicles and ovulation, resulting in ovarian cysts.


However, saw palmetto has been proven to be effective in reducing the ovarian cell's response to the prolactin receptor.

2. Reduction of Hirsutism (Excessive Hair Growth)

Many women with PCOS experience excessive body hair growth, known as hirsutism.


This is because DHT is the main hormone regulating hair growth, including body hair.


Increased levels of DHT in women can cause the growth of thick and dark terminal hairs in androgen-sensitive body parts, which are typically found in men, such as:

  • Beard area
  • Upper lip
  • Breasts
  • Lower abdomen
  • Lower back
  • Inner thighs

Although there isn't enough scientific evidence to support the effects of saw palmetto on excessive hair growth in women with PCOS, it is a commonly recommended natural supplement for combating hirsutism due to its antiandrogenic properties.

3. Alleviation of Hair Loss & Hair Thinning Associated with PCOS

Excess levels of DHT in the body can cause androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness.


Women with PCOS often experience excessive hair loss, especially around the center and front of the scalp, due to increased DHT levels that interfere with the hair growth cycle.


Including natural DHT blockers in your diet can be a helpful strategy to combat hair loss. Saw palmetto has been shown to effectively combat hair loss in several studies.


That's why it's recommended for men and women suffering from androgenic alopecia and hormone-related hair loss.

4. Improvement in Acne and Oily Skin

Excessive levels of androgens in the bloodstream are also closely related to hormonal acne, a common symptom of PCOS.


DHT triggers the production of sebum, natural oil that reaches the skin surface, causing oily skin, blockage, bacterial overgrowth, and acne.


Testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) also contribute to acne and women, with the severity varying depending on the ratio of these hormones in their bloodstream.


Saw palmetto's DHT-reducing properties also make it beneficial for improving the appearance of acne and oily skin.


A study found that using a saw palmetto-based cream successfully reduced sebum secretion in 95% of participants after four weeks of treatment.


While there are no specific studies dedicated to the efficacy of saw palmetto supplements for acne yet, there have been several anecdotal reports of its effectiveness in reducing acne.

5. Alleviation of Menstrual Irregularities

Women with PCOS often experience menstrual irregularities due to anovulation, when their ovaries fail to release a mature egg during the menstrual cycle, leading to absent or irregular periods.


Saw palmetto has been shown to be beneficial for alleviating menstrual irregularities due to its ability to balance the hormone prolactin.


In individuals with PCOS, the formation of cysts and irregular menstrual cycles are partially attributed to the hormone prolactin, as it inhibits the development of eggs and ovulation.


The anti-inflammatory properties of saw palmetto may also help alleviate pelvic pain, inflammation, and bloating that some women with PCOS experience during menstruation.

6. Support For Urinary and Reproductive Health

Due to its anti-androgenic properties, saw palmetto is widely used among men looking to support prostate health.


For women, however, it’s less about the plant being anti-androgenic and more about its ability to decrease inflammatory markers.


As such, it can be a wonderful supplement to support urinary and reproductive health, even among women.


With lower levels of inflammation overall, saw palmetto can help reduce issues related to irritable bladder and urinary tract infections (UTIs).


Furthermore, it can also be beneficial for improving fertility in women with PCOS since the anti-inflammatory properties of saw palmetto may help improve ovulation and support egg health.

Saw Palmetto Dosage & Administration Guidelines For PCOS

1. How to Choose the Right Saw Palmetto Supplement

You can buy saw palmetto in various forms like powdered capsules, creams, tablets, liquid tinctures, and extracts.


However, ensure the product label mentions that it contains at least 200 mg saw palmetto and plant sterols per serving or dose.


Our #1 best-selling supplement Androgen Blocker Plus contains 450mg of Saw Palmetto:

2. Recommended Dosage and Consumption Guidelines

Experts recommend 160 to 320 mg of saw palmetto daily to get the health benefits essential for PCOS management.


Capsules are the most common form of saw palmetto available on the market, so you should follow the dosage instructions provided on the packaging.


As a general rule, take 1 or 2 capsules per day between meals and plenty of water. 


The ideal amount of saw palmetto for treating PCOS can vary depending on individual factors and the specific form of the supplement consumed, so it's best to consult your healthcare provider about the specific dosage that best suits your condition.

3. Possible Drug Interactions and Contraindications

According to Mount Sinai, among the possible drug interactions and contraindications of saw palmetto are:

  • Finasteride (Proscar): Saw palmetto and finasteride tend to have similar effects, so it is best not to take them in tandem unless directed by your doctor.

  • Blood thinners: Saw palmetto can interfere with antiplatelet and anticoagulant drugs, as it affects the blood's clotting abilities. These include Aspirin, Warfarin (Coumadin) and Clopidogrel (Plavix).

  • Oral contraceptives: Saw palmetto may affect estrogen and androgen receptors and result in hormone-like effects, reducing the effectiveness of oral contraceptives, which may cause an unintended pregnancy.

4. Importance of a Holistic Approach in Managing PCOS

It is important to remember that saw palmetto alone cannot provide all the benefits necessary for managing PCOS symptoms.


A holistic approach is needed to effectively manage PCOS, which means it’s important to combine a range of lifestyle changes and supplements like saw palmetto with diet and exercise.


Look for supplements that combine saw palmetto with other nurturing vitamins and herbs for PCOS, like selenium, zinc, and functional mushrooms.


This will help ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs to support and balance hormones.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Saw Palmetto safe for women with PCOS?

Yes! Saw palmetto is generally safe for those with PCOS, but it is always best to consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplement.

Can Saw Palmetto completely cure PCOS?

Saw palmetto can address many PCOS-related symptoms, but it's still essential to identify the root cause of one's condition to make better lifestyle changes and dietary adjustments for complete overall PCOS management.

How long does it take to see results when using Saw Palmetto for PCOS?

It depends. Some women with PCOS may see results within a few weeks of taking saw palmetto, while others may not see any changes until over a month. 


Most women see improvements within six weeks of taking saw palmetto.

Can I take Saw Palmetto while on hormonal contraceptives?

It is best to consult with your healthcare provider before taking saw palmetto while on hormonal contraceptives, as the supplement may decrease the efficacy of oral contraceptives and other hormone treatments.

What are the potential side effects of Saw Palmetto?

When used according to the instructions, saw palmetto is considered to be safe, and side effects are uncommon.


However, there have been reports of headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness.

Can Saw Palmetto interact with other medications I'm taking for PCOS?

Those taking contraceptives, blood thinners, and finasteride might experience drug interactions with saw palmetto.

Is Saw Palmetto suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women with PCOS?

Using it during pregnancy is not recommended by experts due to its anti-hormone effects, which can harm pregnant women and cause genital abnormalities in male fetuses.

Can Saw Palmetto be used by women with PCOS who are trying to conceive?

Yes, saw palmetto is commonly taken to improve fertility in women with PCOS.

Should I take Saw Palmetto continuously or in cycles?

According to WebMD, saw palmetto is safe to take up to 3 years. It's best to consult your health provider to determine the best dosage and schedule for your specific needs.

How can I ensure the quality of the Saw Palmetto product I'm using?

Your saw palmetto supplement should contain plant sterols and at least 200 mg per dose.

Can I take Saw Palmetto alongside other herbal remedies for PCOS?

Yes, in fact, it's better to take holistic blends like Nourished Androgen Blocker For PCOS, as it combines saw palmetto with other PCOS-friendly herbs, vitamins, and minerals.

About The Author - Tamika Woods

Tamika Woods | PCOS Author | Nourished Natural Health
Tamika Woods, Clinical Nutritionist (B.HS; B.Ed), Bestselling Author

For a decade, Tamika battled chronic acne, irregular cycles, mood swings, hair loss, painful periods, severe digestive issues and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). You name it - she's been there!

Tam was finally able to clear her skin, regulate her cycle, be free of period pain and fall pregnant naturally with her daughter in 2020. It took Tam 10 years and tens of thousands of dollars in tertiary education to get the answers she needed to get better.

She didn’t want other women to suffer as long as she did which is why she has dedicated her life to helping women in the same position as she was.

Tam helps women interpret what their bodies are trying to communicate through frustrating symptoms, and then develop a step-by-step roadmap to find balance again. She's here to help you get on track!

Tamika Woods is the author of the Amazon best seller PCOS Repair Protocol. She holds a Bachelor of Health Science degree (Nutritional Medicine) as well as a Bachelor of Education, graduating with Honours in both.

She is a certified Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Educator and a certified member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).

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References used for this article

https://drwillcole.com/hormone-health/saw-palmetto-for-pcos

https://doctorherdmanclinic.com/resources/articles/womens-health/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-saw-palmetto/

https://www.simplysupplements.co.uk/healthylife/women-and-health/does-saw-palmetto-help-pcos

https://drbrighten.com/supplements-for-pcos/

https://holisticnerd.com/saw-palmetto-for-pcos-benefits-risks-practical-tips/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/saw-palmetto

https://nourishednaturalhealth.com/products/androgen-blocker

https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/fertility-blog/2020/march/five-myths-about-pcos

https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737989/

https://www.pcosaa.org/pcos-and-unwanted-hair

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33313047/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326927#_noHeaderPrefixedContent

https://medium.com/@myacnejourney/why-you-should-never-take-saw-palmetto-for-acne-f4fb96a80574

https://www.healthline.com/health/saw-palmetto-acne#how-to

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17524128/

https://drbrighten.com/saw-palmetto-benefits-and-uses/

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/saw-palmetto

https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/urinary-tract-infections

https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/saw-palmetto

https://www.doctorkatta.com/post/warning-these-beauty-supplements-have-been-linked-to-birth-defects

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-971/saw-palmetto

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About The Author - Tamika Woods

Tamika Woods | PCOS Author | Nourished Natural Health
Tamika Woods, Clinical Nutritionist (B.HS; B.Ed), Bestselling Author

For a decade, Tamika battled chronic acne, irregular cycles, mood swings, hair loss, painful periods, severe digestive issues and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). You name it - she's been there!

Tam was finally able to clear her skin, regulate her cycle, be free of period pain and fall pregnant naturally with her daughter in 2020. It took Tam 10 years and tens of thousands of dollars in tertiary education to get the answers she needed to get better.

She didn’t want other women to suffer as long as she did which is why she has dedicated her life to helping women in the same position as she was.

Tam helps women interpret what their bodies are trying to communicate through frustrating symptoms, and then develop a step-by-step roadmap to find balance again. She's here to help you get on track!

Tamika Woods is the author of the Amazon best seller PCOS Repair Protocol. She holds a Bachelor of Health Science degree (Nutritional Medicine) as well as a Bachelor of Education, graduating with Honours in both.

She is a certified Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Educator and a certified member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).

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Nourished Period + PMS Repair
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Nourished Hormone Detox + Digestion - Nourished Natural Health
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