Saw Palmetto Vs Finasteride: Which One Is Better For Your Hair Loss?

Medically reviewedby Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

Welcome to our latest blog post, where we delve into the world of hair loss treatments, exploring two popular options that have garnered significant attention in recent years: Saw Palmetto and Finasteride.

With hair loss affecting millions of people worldwide, the search for effective solutions is always high on the agenda. The question is, which of these treatments is better for your hair loss?

Hair loss is often perceived as an inevitable part of aging, but that doesn't mean it's welcomed. There are numerous products and treatments available on the market that promise to slow down or even reverse this process. 

Today, we will focus on Saw Palmetto and Finasteride, providing a comprehensive comparison that will help you make an informed decision about which one might be the best choice for you. 

This blog will cover everything from the origins of these treatments, how they work, their efficacy, potential side effects, and other key factors to consider. 

By the end of this post, our goal is to give you a clearer understanding of Saw Palmetto and Finasteride, empowering you to choose the one that best suits your needs. 

So, if you're keen to explore these promising hair loss solutions, read on! [[textbox]]

Summary

Managing hair loss is a journey that requires careful consideration of various treatment options.

Both Saw Palmetto and Finasteride have demonstrated their efficacy in combating hair loss, yet each comes with its unique characteristics, benefits, and potential side effects.

Saw Palmetto, a natural supplement, provides a gentler approach and is well-suited to those preferring a more holistic treatment, while Finasteride, a prescription medication, offers a robust and clinically-proven solution for those seeking potent effects.

Apart from these two options, there are alternatives like Bio-Pilixin Serum that offer a blend of potent ingredients designed not only to reduce hair loss but stimulate new growth as well. 

Bio-Pilixin, featuring a special blend of ingredients, offers an alternative for those exploring hair regrowth solutions.

Ultimately, your decision should be guided by your unique needs, preferences, health status, and advice from your healthcare provider. 

It's essential to remember that while hair loss can be challenging, the availability of these different treatment options provides hope and potential solutions to suit your individual journey. 

Whichever path you choose, the goal remains the same – achieving healthier, thicker, and more resilient hair. Good luck with your hair regrowth journey!

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What is androgenetic alopecia?

saw palmetto vs finasteride

Androgenetic alopecia, also known as pattern baldness, is a common type of hair loss that affects both men and women. It's primarily caused by a genetic predisposition and the effect of androgens, a type of hormone, on hair follicles. This condition can begin as early as the teen years and typically progresses with age, resulting in thinning hair or baldness.

Androgenetic alopecia is characterized by a specific pattern of hair loss. For men, this usually starts with a receding hairline and thinning at the crown, eventually leading to complete baldness in some cases. 

Women, on the other hand, typically experience a general thinning of hair across the entire scalp, but rarely go completely bald.

What is saw palmetto?

saw palmetto vs finasteride

Saw palmetto is a type of small palm tree native to the southeastern United States. It produces a berry that, when ripe, has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, primarily for urinary and reproductive issues. In recent years, it has also gained popularity as a potential treatment for hair loss.

The berries of this plant contain various bioactive compounds, including fatty acids and sterols. 

It's thought that these components have anti-androgenic effects, meaning they can block the activity of androgens, like dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a key player in androgenetic alopecia.

As a natural supplement, saw palmetto is commonly used in various forms such as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.

How does saw palmetto help with hair regrowth?

Saw palmetto is believed to promote hair regrowth by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). High levels of DHT are associated with hair loss in people with androgenetic alopecia, as it shrinks hair follicles and shortens the hair growth cycle. 

By reducing DHT levels, saw palmetto may help slow hair loss and potentially stimulate new growth, and this has been demonstrated according to research as well. 

What are the benefits of saw palmetto?

Saw palmetto offers numerous health benefits, thanks to its rich content of bioactive compounds. Beyond its potential use in hair loss treatment, it's commonly used to alleviate urinary symptoms and improve prostate health.

Here are several key benefits associated with saw palmetto:

  • Balancing hormone levels: Some evidence suggests that saw palmetto may help balance hormone levels in the body, potentially benefiting those with conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that are associated with hormonal imbalances.
  • Hair loss treatment: As we've discussed, saw palmetto may inhibit the conversion of testosterone into DHT, a hormone associated with androgenetic alopecia. By blocking this process, saw palmetto could potentially slow hair loss and stimulate hair regrowth.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Saw palmetto has been observed to possess anti-inflammatory properties, which might aid in managing various inflammatory conditions.
  • Skin health: Its potential anti-inflammatory and hormonal balancing effects could potentially improve certain skin conditions, such as acne.
  • Supports immune system: Saw palmetto may have immune-supporting properties, possibly due to its rich antioxidant content.

What are the side effects of saw palmetto?

While saw palmetto is generally considered safe for most people when taken in recommended doses, it can cause side effects in some individuals. These can range from mild to severe, and it's important to consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Here are some potential side effects associated with saw palmetto:

  • Gastrointestinal issues: Some people may experience digestive upset, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
  • Headaches and dizziness: Saw palmetto can cause headaches or dizziness in some individuals, especially when starting the supplement.
  • Fatigue: Some people may feel unusually tired or fatigued when taking saw palmetto.
  • Sexual side effects: Although rare, saw palmetto has been associated with decreased sexual drive or difficulty achieving an erection. This is due to its impact on hormonal balance.

What is finasteride?

saw palmetto vs finasteride

Finasteride is a prescription medication that is primarily used to treat male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It works by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that plays a key role in hair loss and prostate growth.

How does finasteride help with hair regrowth?

Finasteride helps with hair regrowth by blocking the action of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a hormone that can shrink hair follicles and shorten the hair growth cycle, leading to hair loss in individuals with androgenetic alopecia. 

By reducing the levels of DHT in the scalp, finasteride slows the hair loss process and can stimulate new hair growth in the existing follicles.

What are the benefits of finasteride?

Finasteride is a well-researched medication known for its efficacy in treating two main conditions: androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It offers a variety of benefits in managing these conditions.

Here are the key benefits associated with finasteride:

  • Hair Loss treatment: One of the primary benefits of finasteride is its ability to slow down the progression of male pattern baldness and stimulate hair regrowth. Numerous studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in these areas.
  • Prostate health: Finasteride is also used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition characterized by an enlarged prostate that can cause urinary issues. It can help reduce the size of the prostate gland and alleviate symptoms.
  • Long-Term safety and efficacy: Finasteride has been in use for several decades, with numerous studies supporting its long-term safety and efficacy when used as directed.
  • Convenience: Finasteride is taken orally, usually as a daily tablet, which makes it a convenient treatment option.

What are the side effects of finasteride?

While finasteride is generally well-tolerated, it can cause side effects in some individuals. These can range from mild to severe, and it's always crucial to discuss these potential side effects with a healthcare provider before beginning treatment.

Here are some possible side effects associated with finasteride:

  • Sexual side effects: Finasteride may cause a decrease in sexual desire, difficulty in achieving an erection, and a decrease in the amount of semen released during sex. These side effects occur in a small percentage of patients and often resolve after discontinuing the medication or over time with continued use.
  • Breast changes: Some men have reported changes in the breasts, including enlargement or tenderness, and in rare cases, male breast cancer.
  • Depression and anxiety: Some individuals have reported mood changes, including depression and anxiety, while taking finasteride.
  • Allergic reactions: Though rare, some people may experience an allergic reaction to finasteride, which could include symptoms like rash, itching, hives, and swelling of the lips or face.
  • Potential impact on prostate cancer screening: Finasteride can affect the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a marker used in screening for prostate cancer, which could complicate the interpretation of these tests.

An effective alternative to saw palmetto and finasteride

saw palmetto vs finasteride alternative

If you're weighing up your options for hair loss treatments, don't overlook Bio-Pilixin Serum. It's a bit different from saw palmetto and finasteride, blending potent ingredients that not only help curb hair loss but stimulate new growth.

Key ingredients in this serum include Capilia Longa, recognized for its supportive role in hair vitality, and Niacinamide, known for encouraging scalp circulation and offering follicle protection. Plus, it has Vanillyl Butyl Ether to enhance blood flow to your hair follicles. 

But here's the best part: Bio-Pilixin Serum offers a 150-day money-back guarantee. That's right, you can give it a shot and if it doesn't work for you, no worries. 

You're covered. It's a comprehensive approach for hair care, blending various elements and offering added resilience against environmental factors.

Worth checking out, don't you think? 

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What is the difference between saw palmetto and finasteride?

As we delve into the world of hair loss treatments, it's crucial to understand that not all solutions are created equal. While some similarities exist between saw palmetto and finasteride, these two treatments also exhibit marked differences in terms of their potency, mode of action, side effects, availability, and long-term use implications. 

Let’s have a look at these differences in detail:

Mode of action

While both saw palmetto and finasteride work by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, the degree and mechanism of this inhibition may differ. 

Finasteride is a synthetic medication that directly inhibits the enzyme, while saw palmetto, a natural extract, is believed to inhibit it indirectly through its various bioactive compounds.

Potency

Finasteride, as a prescription medication, is generally more potent and its effects more consistent. It has been rigorously tested in clinical trials and is proven to reduce DHT levels in the body. 

On the other hand, saw palmetto's potency can vary based on the product and its formulation, as it's a natural product and not regulated as strictly as prescription medications.

Side effects

Finasteride is known to have more serious potential side effects, particularly related to sexual function and mood. 

Saw palmetto, while it can cause side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, is generally considered to have a better safety profile.

Availability and form

Finasteride is a prescription-only medication, meaning you'll need a healthcare provider's approval to start using it. 

Saw palmetto, however, is available over-the-counter as a dietary supplement. Saw palmetto also comes in a variety of forms, including capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and even teas, while finasteride is only available in tablet form.

Long-term usage

Both saw palmetto and finasteride require long-term usage to maintain their benefits. 

However, given the potential side effects of finasteride, some individuals may be more comfortable using saw palmetto in the long run.

Saw palmetto vs finasteride: Which one is right for you?

The choice between saw palmetto and finasteride for hair loss largely depends on individual preferences, severity of hair loss, and tolerance for potential side effects. While saw palmetto is a natural supplement with fewer side effects and good for mild to moderate hair loss, finasteride is a prescription medication that is clinically proven to be effective for significant hair loss, but it may have a higher likelihood of side effects.

To elaborate, saw palmetto is an over-the-counter supplement that inhibits the production of DHT, a hormone associated with hair loss, and thus slows the progression of hair thinning

It is usually well-tolerated and has fewer side effects, making it a popular choice for individuals who prefer a natural, holistic approach to health.

On the other hand, finasteride is a prescription medication known for its potent effects on hair regrowth.

Clinical studies indicate its efficacy in modulating DHT levels in the scalp, which is associated with the hair's life cycle.

However, finasteride may have more significant side effects, including sexual dysfunction in a small percentage of men. It's also not suitable for use by women.

Conclusion

Managing hair loss is a journey that requires careful consideration of various treatment options.

Both Saw Palmetto and Finasteride have demonstrated their efficacy in combating hair loss, yet each comes with its unique characteristics, benefits, and potential side effects.

Saw Palmetto, a natural supplement, provides a gentler approach and is well-suited to those preferring a more holistic treatment, while Finasteride, a prescription medication, offers a robust and clinically-proven solution for those seeking potent effects.

Besides these two options, you might consider alternatives like Bio-Pilixin Serum, which is formulated with a range of ingredients aimed at supporting hair vitality.

Bio-Pilixin, with its unique blend of ingredients and a money-back guarantee, provides an additional choice for those on their hair regrowth journey.

Ultimately, your decision should be guided by your unique needs, preferences, health status, and advice from your healthcare provider. 

It's essential to remember that while hair loss can be challenging, the availability of these different treatment options provides hope and potential solutions to suit your individual journey. 

Whichever path you choose, the goal remains the same – achieving healthier, thicker, and more resilient hair. Good luck with your hair regrowth journey!

References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33313047/ 
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9951956/#:~:text=In%20men%20with%20vertex%20hair,recipients%20at%20each%20time%20point

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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.