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. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Tek Weh Saw Palmetto
Tek Weh Saw Palmetto has a fairly clean supplement design, without much in the way of additives or fillers.
While it has 500 mg of raw plant material per capsule, 125 mg of which is actual saw palmetto extract, the fatty acid content isn’t clear, so it’s hard to rank this supplement much higher.
Saw palmetto benefits and side effects
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.
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.
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.