Does Saw Palmetto Help with Hirsutism Symptoms?
Hirsutism, the presence of male-pattern hair growth, is a problem that affects 5 – 10% of all women. Many hear that supplements such as Saw Palmetto might help them. But is this actually the case?
What Exactly is Saw Palmetto?
The Saw Palmetto plant is a palm tree that grows in the southeast of the United States. Its berries are used to make a supplement that some claim help them with conditions such as hair loss, urinary tract function, and prostate health, amongst others. Many also claim that saw palmetto has benefits for women with hirsutism.
Does Saw Palmetto Help with Hirsutism?
Hirsutism is effectively a problem with excess hair growth in a range of areas on the body. In almost all cases of Hirsutism, the culprit is excess levels of androgens such as testosterone in the body. High levels of androgens are also linked to a number of other conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). If you are experiencing excess hair growth, it is important to identify the underlying cause together with a doctor, so it can be treated best.
When people seek out herbal remedies for the treatment of excess or unwanted hair, Saw Palmetto is often suggested for this. Saw palmetto is believed to have anti-androgenic effects by some. Even though there are studies ongoing for Saw Palmetto, it is mainly studied for BPH (Benign prostatic hypertrophy, prostate enlargement), and is most often used for other prostate conditions, baldness, and sexual dysfunction, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support these uses. And especially for Hirsutism and PCOS, scientific evidence about its efficiency is still lacking.
But what can you do if you experience Hirsutism and are looking for a way to get rid of the symptoms? Let’s first learn more about Hirsutism:
What Causes Hirsutism?
There are many reasons a person can develop problems with excess hair growth. It affects men and women, and while it is more prominent in people who are Hispanic, African America, Mediterranean, or from the middle east; it impacts people of all ethnicities, often causing unwanted physical and psychological effects.
Excess hair growth usually presents on the chest, face, and back; causing hairs to appear in unwanted places, and typically these hairs are dark and coarse.
When a woman reaches puberty, the ovaries will start to produce a mix of both “female” and “male” sex hormones. The male sex hormones, also called androgens, cause hair to develop and grow in the pubic and underarm regions. If there’s an excess amount of androgens available, the thicker, darker hair will also grow on the chin, chest, arms and legs, back and buttock. But what causes Hirsutism?
Hirsutism causes are known to be:
There are a number of medications which are known to cause Hirsutism. Some of these include Fluoxetine, Prozac, Danazol, and Corticosteroids.
- Cushing’s Syndrome
This condition develops when a person’s body is exposed to elevated levels of a hormone known as Cortisol. It can sometimes occur when the adrenal glands produce too much Cortisol or by the regular ingestion of medications such as prednisone.
PCOS is one of the most common causes of Hirsutism and affects approx. 10% of all women of reproductive age. PCOS is ruled by a notable imbalance of hormones that leads to symptoms like weight gain and obesity, irregular periods, difficulties to conceive, acne, anxiety and depression.
- Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
This condition is typically hereditary and is characterized through the irregular production of steroid hormones in a person’s adrenal glands, which include androgens and cortisol.
While this is highly rare, it is possible that a tumor which secrets androgens in the adrenal glands or ovaries can lead to the development of Hirsutism.
In some cases, Hirsutism can occur in a person without any of the known causes outlined above. Hirsutism can be a family-specific trait, or, in some cases, no specific cause can be identified, which is then called “idiopathic Hirsutism”.
The Different Hirsutism Treatment Options
There are a range of medical and physical treatments available depending on the underlying cause of the excess hair growth.
First of all, you should check in with your doctor. Before any treatment is offered, it is imperative that the root cause of the issue is uncovered, as if there is any underlying disease that is present, this would be the primary condition that would first require treatment. Together with your doctor, you can find a treatment plan for your Hirsutism.
Second, hair removal is one of the fastest ways to deal with Hirsutism. Laser Hair Removal, Electrolysis and IPL can deliver long-lasting results, but can be expensive. There are a lot of other ways with which you can remove your excess hair, such as shaving, waxing, plucking and using depilatory creams. However these methods are less long lasting and need to be repeated frequently. If you try out methods, you will certainly find the method that works best for you.
And if you are interested in natural supplements for Hirsutism, we have assembled an overview of the different supplements for Hirsutism here. And remember, before starting a new supplement, always make sure to always discuss them with your doctor first!