Reduce PCOS Hair Thinning & Excess Body Hair Growth With Saw Palmetto
Are you suffering from PCOS hair thinning or excess body hair growth? Trust you are not alone!
For many women with PCOS, one of the most difficult symptoms is hair thinning and/or excess facial and body hair growth, known as Hirsutism. Hirsutism causes coarse, dark hair in a male-like pattern that may appear on the face, chest, abdomen, back, upper arms, or upper legs.
It can be extremely hard to control and embarrassing, lowering the quality of life and confidence for women with PCOS who experience them.
Hirsutism is a common symptom associated with the hormones called androgens. Thinning hair and an overabundance of facial and body hair is usually the result of excess androgens in your body. Androgens are present in both men and women, but men have much higher levels of biologically active androgens...for obvious reasons of course. In women, androgens are produced by our ovaries and adrenal glands.
“Over 95% of women who have all three of the classic signs of obesity, hirsutism and/or irregular menses, have PCOS,” according to Dr. Tori Hudson, N.D. In women with Hirsutism related to PCOS, there is a link pointing to excessive androgenic hormones. These androgenic hormones include testosterone, androstenedione, and DHEA. Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of the androgen testosterone. Testosterone present in excessive levels, as found in some women with PCOS, is converted to much stronger dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase. DHT is thought to be responsible for male pattern baldness in men, but also thinning hair in women. This may also cause excessive hair growth in unwanted areas in women, especially on the face."
A study performed in 2009 by the Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, at the University of Birmingham, UK, found that both obese and normal weight women with PCOS had higher levels of 5 alpha-reductase than women with the same BMIs that do not have PCOS. The study shows that women with PCOS have the ability to convert testosterone to DHT more easily than women who do not have PCOS. This creates excessive levels of DHT in women with PCOS. This is why women with PCOS often have Hirsutism.
The berries of Saw Palmetto have been found to inhibit DHT production by reducing 5 alpha-reductase production, which may help prevent Hirsutism in women with PCOS.
What is Saw Palmetto?
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a small palm. It is the only plant species classified in the genus Serenoa. It is native to the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains of the United States. This plant is a 70 million dollar-a-year industry for the state of Florida due to its medicinal actions. Parts of the Saw Palmetto that are used are the berries, heart of the palm, and the fronds. The berry looks much like an olive. This plant is most often taken by capsule or liquid extract.
Coastal Native American Indians ate Saw Palmetto berries regularly to sustain health. They are very high in essential fatty acids and natural sugars. The berries were used to treat debilitating conditions as a general tonic. Older Seminole Indians called the berries the “spring of life”. Today Saw Palmetto is most popular for being used as a natural medicine for improving prostate health in men.
How Does Saw Palmetto Work to Reduce Hirsutism?
Saw Palmetto may aid PCOS Hirsutism by:
- Increasing DHT breakdown
- Inhibiting DHT production
- Reducing 5 alpha-reductase activity
- Inhibiting DHT binding to androgen receptor sites
As a naturopathic practitioner I have found that Saw Palmetto greatly helps women grow their thinning head hair back, while also reducing unwanted facial and body hair growth, especially when paired with Adrenal Support or Adrenal Support Extract.
Other Ways Saw Palmetto May Help With PCOS
Women with PCOS usually have high levels of estrogen, and low levels of progesterone; known as estrogen dominance. This may cause uterine hypertrophy, also known as endometrial hyperplasia. Excessive levels of estrogen may cause excessive cell proliferation of the endometrium. The endometrium is the inner-most layer of the uterus.
Saw Palmetto is strengthening for the body tissues, aiding in proper formation and function of the uterine cells. It has also been found to lower the incidence of acne associated with PCOS.
How To Use Saw Palmetto
Saw Palmetto can take time to be effective. It all depends on the woman's body and her underlying health issues. For instance, gut imbalances can affect nutrient absorption which slows down the rate in which the plant is fully recieved by your body. For this reason, it is suggested for use over a 30 day period, taking notes of any improvements over that time. If improvements are noted, continue for best results.
Because this plant has anti-androgenic effects, manipulating some hormone levels in the body, it is not suggested for combination with any type of medications for fertility that also affect hormone levels. If you're doing medical fertility treatment speak with your doctor prior to using Saw Palmetto if you plan on taking medications for PCOS.
Saw Palmetto has been found safe for long-term use in most cases.