Men who want to boost their testosterone levels naturally might consider using saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is an herbal remedy that comes from the fruit of the Serenoa repens plant. Some research suggests that saw palmetto can help manage some aspects of male reproductive health, including prostate problems.
Scientists have found that saw palmetto can slow down 5-alpha reductaseTrusted Source. This enzyme converts testosterone into a potent androgen hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Androgen hormones regulate the development of male characteristics.
The production of androgen hormones occurs in the testes (in males), ovaries (in females), and adrenal glands. These hormones are also responsible for the development of primary sex organs in the womb and secondary male characteristics during puberty.
By slowing down 5-alpha reductase, saw palmetto could reduce the effects of DHT as males get older.
Regulating testosterone levels can impact several aspects of health, including body composition, sex drive, mood, and cognition.
Testosterone levels decline with age, and some research shows that low levels of testosterone could contribute to conditions like heart disease.
Saw palmetto works by decreasing the activity of 5α-R — an enzyme responsible for converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), another sex hormone, to help preserve testosterone levels in the body.
One test-tube study found that the effectiveness of saw palmetto extract was comparable to finasteride in preserving testosterone levels. Finasteride is a medication used to treat hair loss and BPH by reducing the activity of 5α-R.
Another study in 40 men observed that treatment with saw palmetto decreased levels of DHT by 32% after 6 months, suggesting that saw palmetto was effective at maintaining testosterone levels.
Improves sex drive
Having low testosterone levels reduces sex drive, or libido. Some people believe that saw palmetto can help improve libido by reducing testosterone breakdown, and there is some evidence to support this.
A study in the journal Urologia Internationalis found that males using saw palmetto experienced improved sexual function. In the study, which involved 120 males with enlarged prostate glands, the researchers monitored the following over a 2-year period: urine flow, blood prostate-specific antigen, prostate symptomse, Erectile function, quality of life
They found that using saw palmetto improved prostate symptoms and sexual function after 2 years. This improvement was significant, especially in the first year.
Reduces male hair loss
It is normal for hair to fall out and grow back. However, having high levels of DHT can reduce hair growth. As a result, some people believe that using saw palmetto may help prevent hair loss.
The research into saw palmetto and hair growth is varied yet somewhat limited, but there are studies indicating that the plant extract might show some promise as a treatment.
One study in mouse models found that saw palmetto promoted hair regenerationTrusted Source and repaired hair loss by activating the signaling pathways responsible for hair growth.
A small 2014 study of 25 males showed positive results when the participants used topical saw palmetto and 10% Trichogen as a treatment. The study showed an 11.9% hair count increase after 4 months.
A second small studyTrusted Source of 50 males confirmed the effectiveness of topical saw palmetto for treating male baldness. Hair count increased at weeks 12 and 24 compared with the baseline.
Saw palmetto contains the antioxidants epicatechin and methyl gallate — compounds that prevent damage to cells, decrease inflammation, and protect against chronic disease.
Some research shows that saw palmetto may have anti-inflammatory properties, which could be beneficial in treating certain conditions.
For example, one study observed that giving saw palmetto extract to mice with enlarged prostate glands decreased swelling and several markers of inflammation, including interleukin 6 (IL-6).
Another study in obese rats with BPH found that saw palmetto was effective at decreasing inflammation and improving antioxidant status