Saw palmetto is a plant-derived supplement that’s used by men for achieving better prostate health, reversing hair loss, and treating sexual dysfunction.
It has strong biological activity when it comes to regulating the levels of the different forms of testosterone in your body, and this power has been demonstrated in a number of clinical trials.
While its area of focus is pretty narrow, what it does do, it does well. Our research team took a look at the best saw palmetto supplements on the market for men looking for better prostate health, better sexual wellness, and a solution for hair loss.
1. Essential Elements Saw Palmetto
Essential Elements Saw palmetto contains one of the most potent formula’s on the market: saw palmetto oil, pumpkin seed oil, and cranberry seed oil. Together, these 3 super-oils help improve testosterone production, prostate health and reduce hair loss. This formula can also help reduce the amount of oxidative damage to tissues caused by free radicals.
Made in the USA and third party lab tested, essential elements provides the clear winner for BodyNutrition’s #1 recommended saw palmetto supplement.
2. Zhou Saw Palmetto
Zhou Nutrition makes a great saw palmetto supplement that’s got 500 mg of saw palmetto material total; 50 mg of which is a standardized saw palmetto berry extract.
With a gelatin capsule and just one additional ingredient (magnesium stearate), it’s very pure and it’s got a solid dosage, making it an excellent choice.
3. Havasu Nutrition Saw Palmetto
Havasu Nutrition Saw Palmetto is a solid source of raw saw palmetto material as well as standardized extract.
The gelatin capsule is pretty simple and the dosage is high, so it’s very tough to find a flaw with this saw palmetto supplement.
4. Pure Encapsulations Saw Palmetto 320
Pure Encapsulations makes a pure and concentrated saw palmetto supplement that focuses on delivering the active ingredients in as high of a concentration as possible.
The plant materials are standardized to contain 85% total fatty acids, and aside from gelatin in the capsule, there are no additional ingredients, making this a good choice for those who need a higher than average dosage.
5. Oregon’s Wild Harvest Saw Palmetto
Oregon’s Wild Harvest Saw Palmetto is a super-pure supplement whose only two ingredients are saw palmetto and pullulan (a plant-derived material) used in the capsules.
Moreover, the saw palmetto is organically grown, making this a great choice for people who value pesticide-free ingredients in their supplements.
The main downside is that the fatty acid content of this supplement is not standardized, so it’s hard to follow dosing protocols precisely as a result.
6. Jarrow Formulas Saw Palmetto
Jarrow Formulas Saw Palmetto uses a high-concentration standardized fatty acid profile along with 100 mg of additional phytosterols, which it claims boost the effectiveness of the active ingredients in saw palmetto.
While there’s no direct evidence of this outside of the company’s marketing literature, this supplement is very well-received by its users, and it’s the best option if you are looking for a highly concentrated dose of saw palmetto beyond what you’d get in the typical product.
7. Advanced Nutrition Labs Saw Palmetto Berries
Advanced Nutrition Labs makes a good saw palmetto supplement if you are looking for a high dose of raw plant material.
Each vegetarian capsule has 750 mg of saw palmetto berry, which is higher than other supplements. However, the proportion of this that is saw palmetto extract isn’t clear, and further, the fatty acid content isn’t disclosed either.
While the raw plant content of this supplement may be high, the active ingredient dosage is probably lower than average.
8. Nature’s Way Saw Palmetto
Nature’s Way Saw Palmetto has a slightly higher than average dosage of raw saw palmetto per capsule, though unlike some other saw palmetto sources, this supplement doesn’t have a standardized fatty acid content.
It’s still a good source of raw saw palmetto material, but it’s hard to compare the dosage of the active ingredients to some of the other top-rated supplements.
9. Sundown Naturals Saw Palmetto
Sundown Naturals Saw Palmetto has 450 mg of raw plant material per capsule, but doesn’t bother with standardizing the fatty acid content or the saw palmetto extract content.
This is a good choice if you want to use raw plant material as your unit of dosing, but not if you want to maximize the content of the saw palmetto fatty acids in the extract.
10. Dr. Martin’s Nutrition Saw Palmetto
Dr. Martin’s Nutrition Saw Palmetto is a higher dose saw palmetto supplement, but don’t let the packaging fool you―the raw plant material is still only 500 mg per capsule.
The pure extract content is higher, accounting for 125 mg of this, but the fatty acid content isn’t reported, making it hard to tell if this is truly a higher dose supplement, or if the fatty acid content is low.
Best saw palmetto overall: Essential Elements Saw Palmetto
Essential Elements blends saw palmetto with two other naturally-sourced compounds (cranberry seed oil and pumpkin seed oil) for maximum efficacy. This, plus its excellent dosage, makes it our top overall choice.
Best saw palmetto for boosting testosterone: Essential Elements Saw Palmetto
For boosting your testosterone, the multi-ingredient formulation of Essential Elements is a great choice. The saw palmetto dosage is high, and you get the added benefit of two additional naturally-sourced oils that are designed to enhance the androgen-enhancing effects of the active compounds in saw palmetto extract.
Best saw palmetto for prostate health: Pure Encapsulations Saw Palmetto
If you’re looking to mimic the protocols used in scientific research on saw palmetto for an enlarged prostate, our recommendation is Pure Encapsulations Saw Palmetto. Its formulation is devoid of extraneous ingredients, and its dosage of 320 mg is spot-on with the most common dose used in clinical research.
Best saw palmetto for sexual wellness: Essential Elements Saw Palmetto
Whether you’re looking for a supplement for sexual dysfunction or just want something for more energy in the bedroom, Essential Elements Saw Palmetto is a solid bet. The high dose of saw palmetto combines well with the synergistic effects of the pumpkin seed oil and cranberry seed oil, but the formulation doesn’t get overly complicated with too many ingredients like some sexual wellness supplements.
Best saw palmetto for women: Pure Encapsulations Saw Palmetto
While saw palmetto is most commonly taken by men, some women find it helpful for hair loss, PCOS, and a range of other health problems. For them, we recommend Pure Encapsulations thanks to its simple formulation that hews close to the best-studied dosage of saw palmetto in research studies.
Best saw palmetto for hair loss: Zhou Saw Palmetto
The potent dosage of Zhou Saw Palmetto makes it our pick for combating hair loss—with 500 mg of saw palmetto in each capsule, you get a powerful DHT-inhibiting effect from this simple and powerful formulation.
Who should buy saw palmetto?
Saw palmetto is safe for most people but is primarily effective in men looking to boost testosterone and help treat an enlarged prostate. It may also be effective at treating hair loss without the negative side effects of common prescription medications.
Saw palmetto should not be taken by children, especially female children, as it has been shown to cause some adverse side effects. Pregnant women and women looking to conceive should also avoid saw palmetto as it may negatively affect the development of the fetus. People taking medications should consult a doctor before taking saw palmetto as it may cause a negative interaction.
How we ranked
When ranking the best saw palmetto supplements, we first looked at the type of saw palmetto included in each supplement. Products like Dr. Martin’s that included whole-plant extracts without noting the fatty acid content were ranked lower. Advanced Nutrition Labs also did not provide fatty acid content numbers, but was ranked higher for providing significantly more (25%) saw palmetto per serving.
Dosage was also important to consider. According to research, 320 mg per day, standardized to 50% fatty acids, or more is likely to be effective. Unfortunately, many products on the market don’t provide standardized numbers, which is why we filtered out a lot of popular products. Pure Encapsulations ranked in our top 3 here as it contained 85% total fatty acids with 320 mg per serving.
Lastly, we analyzed any additional ingredients that may be included in the supplements. In general, we preferred pure products with minimal additives because we wanted to ensure high doses of pure saw palmetto. As such, products with proprietary blends, or testosterone boosters with saw palmetto added were axed from our list.
Saw palmetto can be used to treat an enlarged prostate. One health problem that many older men face is a condition called benign prostate hyperplasia.
This condition is characterized by an enlarged prostate, which causes problems with urination, particularly at night. Traditionally, an enlarged prostate is treated using a prescription medication called finasteride, though this can have negative side effects.
Some men turn to saw palmetto instead to treat an enlarged prostate, and there is some clinical research supporting their choice.
A systematic review article published in 1998 in the Journal of the American Medical Association pooled the results of 18 different studies, which included a total of almost 3000 different men with an enlarged prostate (1).
The review found that saw palmetto supplements were significantly more effective than a placebo, and even compared well to finasteride—some studies found superior results with saw palmetto than with finasteride.
Saw palmetto appears to cause fewer sexual side effects than finasteride. One of the frustrating parts of using the prescription medication finasteride, either for hair loss or for prostate health, is that it has the tendency to cause erectile dysfunction.
While fairly rare, somewhere around five percent of men taking finasteride are affected by erectile dysfunction.
According to the same systematic review of saw palmetto for treating an enlarged prostate, the rate of erectile dysfunction among men taking saw palmetto is far lower—only 1.1% of men taking saw palmetto across all the studies reported erectile dysfunction, compared to 4.9% of men taking finasteride.
Saw palmetto can be used to treat sexual dysfunction. This decrease in the odds of erectile dysfunction is probably related to why some men also use saw palmetto specifically for treating sexual problem.
One study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research demonstrated the utility of using saw palmetto to treat sexual dysfunction in a group of 82 elderly men (2).
The eight-week long study quantified sexual dysfunction using a standardized survey at the start and at the end of the study. The researchers found that the men’s score on the sexual dysfunction inventory decreased by over 50%, indicating a significant improvement in their sexual function.
They interpreted this as evidence that the saw palmetto supplement can effectively be used to treat sexual dysfunction in men, and encouraged future research on the subject.
While this study did not have a control group, and did not “blind” the participants’ knowledge of which treatment they received, the results are still promising for the prospect of using saw palmetto for better sexual wellness in men.
Because of the results of studies like this, it should be no surprise that many male enhancement pills contain saw palmetto as one of their primary ingredients.
Saw palmetto can help reverse hair loss. The interest in using saw palmetto for treating hair loss came out of its use in treating benign prostate hyperplasia.
The standard drug that treats an enlarged prostate (finasteride) is also commonly used to treat male pattern balding, and is approved by the FDA for that purpose.
Could saw palmetto be used in the same manner? Some research suggests that this is the case. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine used a double-blind placebo-controlled trial to explore saw palmetto’s use in treating hair loss in men (3).
The trial involved men with mild to moderate male-pattern balding, and were randomly assigned to receive either a saw palmetto supplement or a placebo.
Clinical staff at the hair loss center running the study evaluated the men’s baldness at the start and end of the study, but did not know which group the men had been assigned to.
The researchers found that 60% of the men had responded to the saw palmetto supplement, according to the subjective clinical assessment, indicating that saw palmetto could be useful for treating baldness as well as sexual and prostate health.
Given the fairly large number of clinical trials into using saw palmetto to treat an enlarged prostate, the side effect profile of saw palmetto is fairly well characterized.
According to one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the side effects of saw palmetto include constipation, decreased libido, diarrhea, headache, hypertension, nausea, and urine retention (4).
These side effects are quite rare, and in most studies, very few people drop out because of side effects.
The same study noted that, while it’s theoretically possible for saw palmetto to interact with medications that affect hormone levels, like testosterone, there are no reports of this actually occurring.
A study published in 2004 in the journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics examined whether saw palmetto has the potential to interact with prescription medications.
They studied its effect on cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are know to be linked to drug-supplement interactions (5).
The researchers found no evidence that saw palmetto caused any biological interaction with these enzymes, and while this does not guarantee safety, it does corroborate the lack of reports of adverse effects linked to saw palmetto and prescription medications interacting.
By far the most common dose used in clinical research is a 320 mg daily dosage of saw palmetto extract, though specific studies differ when it comes to the precise content of the fatty acids that are thought to contain the active ingredients responsible for the health benefits.
As long as your saw palmetto supplement has at least 320 mg of raw plant material that’s standardized to contain around 50% fatty acids or more, and as long as a substantial portion of this is saw palmetto berry extract, you are likely getting a dosage in the effective range.
Why is saw palmetto popular for use among men? Saw palmetto extract contains a number of biologically active compounds that interact with male hormones. For this reason, it’s a popular supplement for prostate health, reversing hair loss, and treating sexual dysfunction in men.
It’s been tested in a number of clinical studies, and has some of the same properties as prescription medications used to treat hair loss and treat an enlarged prostate.
The research is strongest when it comes to using saw palmetto for prostate health, but other applications have some evidence in their favor too: its biochemical effects are quite similar to FDA-approved treatments for hair loss, but without some of the same negative sexual side effects.
Does saw palmetto result in increasing testosterone levels? Saw palmetto inhibits the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), thereby leading to the growth of male hormones.
As per one study, males who consumed saw palmetto for two weeks experienced a rush in their testosterone levels as compared to the ones in the placebo category. However, there are still not enough reports that establish a positive relationship between testosterone and saw palmetto (6).
Can saw palmetto enhance breast size? Saw palmetto has been regarded as a breast enlargement herb in the traditional medicine community for centuries. But there are no scientific reports that support this, as studies have shown that these herbs lack phytoestrogens, the plant-derived estrogenic compounds necessary to enhance the breast size. It is still not clear why the plant was popularized for this purpose though (7).
What is saw palmetto? Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a species of palm, endemic to the subtropical plains of the United States, Mexico, and the Atlantic. It is a short-statured plant and bears large red-black fruit, which is an important source of food for the local wildlife.
The fruit serves as a medicinal herb for humans and is widely known for its positive effects in treating prostate cancer and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), among other medicinal uses.
Is saw palmetto recommended for dealing with hair loss issues? Testosterone in the body (both males and females) is converted into DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) by Types 1 & 2 5-alpha-reductase, which causes hair loss. This is a natural process of aging.
Saw palmetto has been proven to contain 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, which prevent testosterone from being converted to DHT. Studies have been performed on men and women of varied age groups that suggest a positive effect of the herb on prevention of hair loss, increase in hair density, and aid in sebum reduction.
While this essentially means the herb could be a possible treatment for hair loss, the studies are still limited, and self-medication is not recommended by healthcare communities (8).
What does saw palmetto consist of? Saw palmetto, in its purified extract form, mostly consists of fatty acids and sterols. It also consists of carotenoids, certain sugars, and astringents such as tannin.
Where can I buy saw palmetto from? Saw palmetto can be bought from your local chemists, or from online markets such as Amazon and other e-commerce platforms that sell healthcare products. It is available for consumption in the form of tablets and capsules, dried berries, or as a shampoo base.
Is saw palmetto recommended for all age groups? Saw palmetto is not recommended for all age groups. It is not advisable to administer children who haven’t hit puberty or are in the stage of puberty with saw palmetto. Due to its actions on the sex hormones of the body, saw palmetto can lead to abnormal metabolism of testosterone and estrogen.
Moreover, pregnant women should also avoid the consumption of the herb as it may affect fetal development. This herb should further be avoided by women who are under birth control pills as it may cause the pills to function inefficiently.
How does saw palmetto work in the body? There have been numerous attempts to study the mechanisms of function of saw palmetto. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is formed in the body due to the action of 5-alpha-reductase enzyme on testosterone.
Saw palmetto has compounds that inhibit the functions of this enzyme, thus preventing the formation of DHT. The herb is also said to have anti-androgenic and anti-inflammatory effects that are responsible for the treatment of prostate enlargement and prostate cancer in men (9).
Is saw palmetto banned in some countries? Although not entirely banned, the use of saw palmetto is regulated in most countries. For example, Denmark banned the consumption of the plant or its products for recreational use, while allowing the sale and consumption as a medicinal drug.
The Food and Drug Administration (the Federal agency that regulates food and drug safety), does not approve the herb as a medicine due to the lack of strong scientific evidence of its efficiency. However, it is still legal to use the plant in most countries.
Does saw palmetto affect the prostate? Saw palmetto is mainly known for its actions on the prostate. It is used as a cure to an enlarged and inflamed prostate, and a potential drug to cure prostate cancer.
It helps in the reduction of the inner wall thickness of the prostate, thereby reducing the inflammation of the urinary tract. However, the consumption of the plant extract is not suggested for the prevention of prostate-related problems.
What forms is saw palmetto available? Saw palmetto is commercially available for oral consumption in the form of dried berries, seeds, capsules, and tablets, which may be consumed as is, or in the form of herbal teas. It is also available in the form of a shampoo base for hair loss prevention.
Why should you take saw palmetto? Saw palmetto offers effective measures in decreasing prostatic size and dealing with an enlarged prostate, which is also referred to as Benign Prostate Hyperplasia, aka BPH in the medical industry. In addition, it can be helpful in increasing your sperm count, improving your sex drive, handling migraine problems, and more.
Does saw palmetto affect body weight? While there could be a possible debate about the effect of saw palmetto on weight gain as it controls the production of androgens in the body, there are no studies or established results that promise weight gain due to its consumption.
Can I get acne issues from using saw palmetto? There is no clear-cut relationship established between the effects of Saw Palmetto and skin conditions. There have been studies that suggest a reduction in sebum levels, the oil secretions that lead to acne.
This could essentially mean that Saw Palmetto could be a potential cure for acne. However, it must also be noted that there have been reports of people using the extracts and having their skin conditions worsened (10).
Is saw palmetto safe? Saw palmetto is considered to be safe for human consumption as it has been widely used for a long time now, regardless of its proven efficiency as a potential medicinal herb. While there have been reports of mild side effects such as dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea, no major or long-term side effects are observed.
Does saw palmetto affect your blood pressure levels? In a generalized concept, anti-inflammatory drugs can cause an increase in blood pressure levels. Saw palmetto, being a medicinal herb that has anti-inflammatory properties, can likely lead to an increase in the blood pressure levels. People with pre-existing high blood pressure may experience a surge in their levels after the consumption of Saw Palmetto.
Can saw palmetto trigger liver problems? Saw palmetto has no effect on the liver or pre-existing liver problems. There is no established study to prove a relationship between the plant and the liver. Some people have, however, reported damaged livers, but there is no conclusive evidence that this was caused due to the consumption of Saw Palmetto.
What is the right dosage for saw palmetto? A daily dosage of 160-320g of saw palmetto, depending on the severity of the condition and purpose of use, has proven to be most effective. Doses, smaller than this, have minimal or no effect on the body.
Doses higher than recommended may induce variations in hormone levels along with other minor side effects. Also, most tests conducted are on adult men, and so are the recommended doses. Hence, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor for appropriate dosing for women (11).
Does saw palmetto interact with other medications? Yes. Since Saw Palmetto interacts with the androgens and estrogens of the body, it may also react with other drugs that interact with sex hormones.
This may react with medicines used for avoiding pregnancy, medicines that aid in blood clotting, and anti-inflammatory prescriptions. Self-administration of Saw Palmetto while using a pre-existing medical prescription is not advisable (12).
Can women consume saw palmetto? Yes, saw palmetto is considered safe for women to consume. Women having pattern balding may be suggested to use the herbal extracts as a cure for hair loss. Moreover, it is also recommended for women who have skin conditions like acne that occurs due to excessive oil secretions from the sebaceous glands.
However, it should be noted that most of the studies conducted, and dosage recommendations are for men. Hence, it is wise to consult a healthcare specialist before using Saw Palmetto.
Is it safe for pregnant women to use saw palmetto? No. The consumption of saw palmetto can be dangerous to both the mother and the fetus during pregnancy. Since it reacts with the sex hormones, there is a possible chance of causing hormonal imbalance in the mother, and impaired growth of the fetal genitalia.
How long does it take saw palmetto to show results? As with most herbal medicines, saw palmetto may take anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks to begin showing any results depending on the frequency of intake and the dosage.
To get any promising results, the herb must be consumed on a regular basis in appropriate doses. Breaking a course may result in minimal or no results (13).
- Testosterone boosters
- Prostate supplements
- Horny goat weed
- Male enhancement pills
- Tribulus terrestris
Saw palmetto is a strong supplement for men who want to improve their prostate health, sexual wellness, or treat baldness.
It’s been demonstrated as an effective way to address an enlarged prostate with a lower rate of sexual side effects than standard prescription medications.
It’s also been studied as a direct treatment for sexual dysfunction and for its ability to reverse male pattern baldness, though the research on these uses is preliminary.
Side effects are rare and mild, but can include sexual and gastrointestinal complaints.
Regardless, saw palmetto appears to be quite effective at treating a range of health effects that specifically affect men, like an enlarged prostate, male sexual dysfunction, and male pattern balding.
For BodyNutrition’s #1 recommended saw palmetto supplement, click here.