a woman looking at a hair brush and wondering if saw palmetto might help stop her hair from falling out
There is no scientific evidence to confirm that saw palmetto reduces hair loss.

To date, scientific research on saw palmetto for hair loss remains limited. According to the , there is not enough scientific evidence to support people using saw palmetto for any health condition.

However, some researchers have looked into saw palmetto and hair loss.

According to a , saw palmetto might inhibit an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. A medication called finasteride (Proscar) uses this mechanism to treat hair loss in males. By inhibiting 5-alpha reductase, finasteride the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, which is the hormone responsible for male pattern hair loss.

Saw palmetto may also have on the body, which could offer protection from some causes of hair loss.

In a small , researchers gave 10 males with androgenetic alopecia a supplement that contained both saw palmetto and beta-sitosterol. The researchers noted improvements in 6 of the 10 males. As this study was very small, additional research is necessary to support these findings.

In a , researchers enrolled 100 males with mild-to-moderate androgenetic alopecia. Over 2 years, one group took 320 milligrams (mg) of saw palmetto each day, while the other group received 1 mg of finasteride daily.

In the end, 38% of those who took saw palmetto had an improvement in their hair loss, compared with 68% of those who took finasteride. This finding suggests that both treatments had an effect but that finasteride was more effective. The researchers also noted that the more severe the hair loss, the less likely saw palmetto was to work.

While smaller studies have shown that saw palmetto might have promise as a treatment for hair loss, there is a need for additional, larger scale studies.

Saw palmetto does not usually cause significant side effects. The side effects are headaches and stomach upset.

According to the , research has not shown that saw palmetto interacts with any medications. However, it is still a good idea for people to talk to their doctor before taking saw palmetto in case new information about interactions becomes available.

Another concern for males taking saw palmetto is that the supplement can reduce levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). notes that levels of PSA may decrease by 50% after 6–12 months of taking saw palmetto. Doctors test PSA levels during prostate cancer screening, so saw palmetto could make these tests less accurate.

A person's diet can have an important effect on keeping the skin and hair healthy. Specific foods can help promote the growth of the hair and improve its strength and volume. These foods include eggs, Brazil nuts, and fatty fish.

The advise people to ensure that they get enough of certain nutrients in their diet. These include protein and iron, which the body uses to build strong, healthy hair. Eating too few calories may also affect the growth and health of the hair.

Learn about the best foods for hair growth here.

Few studies have looked into other home remedies for hair loss. However, there is some evidence to suggest that scalp massage and aromatherapy may help.

Like saw palmetto, pumpkin seed oil is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. A found that males who took 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil daily for 24 weeks had an average hair count increase of 40%. However, more research is necessary before researchers can determine the effectiveness of this supplement.

Many doctors will recommend making lifestyle changes relating to hair care. In some people, these steps may help prevent further hair loss:

  • washing and conditioning the hair using gentle and moisturizing products
  • refraining from using hot oil treatments, chemical straighteners, chemical relaxers, and heat styling products, such as flat irons, hot combs, and curling irons
  • limiting the use of a hair dryer and only using the lowest setting possible
  • avoiding adopting hairstyles that pull the hair back tightly — including buns, pigtails, cornrows, or braids — because the twisting and pulling can lead to hair loss
  • brushing the hair as gently as possible