Saw palmetto is an age-old herbal remedy used in traditional medicine for centuries, providing numerous wellness benefits.
Commonly used to treat male-specific issues, this traditional medicinal plant is known for helping in treating urinary difficulties caused by an enlarged prostate gland. However, treating menstruation cramps and hormonal imbalances in females is also possible.
In addition, saw palmetto has been known to produce other positive effects on overall health – reducing inflammation and helping with weight loss. Recent studies have shown how this natural remedy can provide special advantages when taken as supplementation by women specifically.
This article offers all the details on its potential uses and effects so you can make informed decisions about including it in your wellness regimen. Let’s begin.
Table of Contents
What is Saw Palmetto?
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a small palm tree with saw-like leaves and yellow-orange fruit. It is native to the southeastern United States and has been used for centuries as a traditional medicine for various conditions.
In modern times, saw palmetto extract has been produced in powder or oil form and is available as a dietary supplement. This extract contains various compounds, including fatty acids, sterols, and flavonoids which are believed to be responsible for saw palmetto’s beneficial properties.
Benefits of Saw Palmetto for Women
Saw palmetto is a safe and natural herbal remedy to treat several issues. Here are some of the primary saw palmetto benefits for women:
1. Saw Palmetto for PCOS
As the name suggests, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) primarily affects the ovaries. Yet, only half of the affected women have any symptoms. It triggers the development of follicles, which are harmless lumps on the ovarian surface.
This affects women of childbearing age and can cause irregular or absent menstrual cycles and elevated testosterone levels. High levels of androgens have been linked to the development of hirsutism, female pattern baldness, and severe acne. Complications such as depression, infertility, sleep problems, and metabolic syndrome can develop if PCOS is not treated.
According to research, saw palmetto extract may help women with PCOS. Fatty acids (liposterols) found in saw palmetto (lauric, oleic, myristic, and linoleic acids) are known to block the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Both PCOS-related hair growth and hair loss may be influenced by the androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT). 
Also, the anti-inflammatory properties of saw palmetto may help reduce the pelvic pain, inflammation, and bloating experienced by many women with PCOS.
2. Saw Palmetto for Hormone Regulation
Saw palmetto may have hormone-like actions by decreasing the amount of estrogen and androgen receptors. However, it may make oral contraceptives less effective, increasing the chance of unplanned pregnancy.
Saw palmetto also helps maintain healthy levels of prolactin, another crucial hormone. Cyst development in women with polycystic ovary syndrome is caused by prolactin. The hormone prolactin may contribute to menstrual cycle disruption. It is a hormone that prevents the follicle from reaching its full maturity (egg development) and ovulation. Hence, saw palmetto may help regulate hormones, which may regulate menstruation.
3. Saw Palmetto for Menstrual Cramps
One of saw palmetto’s many benefits is its ability to reduce inflammation. Saw palmetto’s anti-inflammatory properties may make it useful for treating PCOS-related inflammatory symptoms, including bloating.
The plant is also renowned for reducing period cramps and improving menstrual cycle regulation. It has the potential to alleviate symptoms of chronic pelvic pain syndrome as well.
4. Saw Palmetto for Acne and Skin
There is no one specific reason for acne that has been identified. However, hormones are thought to have a role. Androgen hormones in the skin have been shown to promote sebaceous gland activity relatively easily.
The overproduction of sebum may be a side effect of elevated testosterone levels. Blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts are the hallmarks of acne, and while sebum is vital for preserving the skin and holding in moisture, too much sebum can clog pores and lead to the condition.
Saw palmetto works by preventing the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and decreasing androgen hormone stimulation. Saw palmetto herb used orally may lessen acne and breakouts by normalizing hormone production. Saw palmetto, either topically or orally, can help regulate DHT (and sebum) production on the skin’s surface and within pores and sebaceous glands. 
However, there is currently no evidence to support the use of saw palmetto for treating acne. Additionally, there are conflicting data from personal experiences. Supplemental saw palmetto has been shown to assist some people with acne, but others say it does nothing or worsens their acne.
5. Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss
When testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), it causes hair loss in women. Overproduction of DHT leads to a reduction in scalp hair follicle size. This causes hair loss because the development phase of the hair cycle is shortened while the resting phase is prolonged. Hair loss in women typically begins at the part, the point at which hair from each side of the head joins together. 
It’s possible that saw palmetto for women’s hair loss might be as effective as it is for males. Saw palmetto supplements, both oral and topical, have been shown to enhance hair quality, increase total hair count, and boost hair density in men and women experiencing hair loss. 
Although some evidence suggests that saw palmetto may be advantageous to hair growth, additional research is needed.
6. Saw Palmetto for Urinary Tract Infections
Saw palmetto has been shown to reduce lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in women. It helps with nocturia and can lessen the number of times you have to go to the bathroom during the night. See palmetto may help women whose bladders are too active. 
Its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful for easing urinary tract discomfort. While it’s true that females don’t have prostates, the overactive bladder can lead to issues with urination that saw palmetto berry extract can help alleviate.
Side Effects of Saw Palmetto for Women
Although there is no evidence linking saw palmetto to adverse effects, pregnant or nursing women should avoid taking it.
Oral usage of saw palmetto for up to three years is usually safe. Common adverse reactions include mild headache, nausea, and diarrhea.
Since estrogen is found in certain birth control tablets, it’s possible that saw palmetto might mitigate the hormone’s negative effects. Some birth control medications may be less effective if used with saw palmetto.
Saw palmetto may also lower estrogen levels. Using it with estrogen tablets might lessen the efficacy of the estrogen pills and disrupt your body’s natural hormonal balance. Also, saw palmetto may delay blood clotting. So if you’re already taking drugs that slow clotting, you may be at a higher risk of bruising and bleeding.
If you are already on prescription drugs, you should talk to your doctor before using saw palmetto.
How Much Saw Palmetto Should a Woman Take Daily?
Taking 160 to 320 milligrams of saw palmetto daily is safe and effective. exacerbate an existing hormonal imbalance and cause unwanted side effects.
Saw palmetto is available in capsule, liquid extract, and tablet forms. The saw palmetto dose for women depends on the form you choose to take, your age, and your weight. Always read the instructions on the label of your saw palmetto supplement carefully.
How Long Does It Take for Saw Palmetto to Work?
It will be a while before you feel the effects of saw palmetto. There should be a delay of at least four to eight weeks. It takes time to begin operating in the body, but the effects are worth the wait. Furthermore, using it regularly is important for optimal outcomes.
Bottom Line: Benefits of Saw Palmetto for Women
Although saw palmetto is most commonly used to treat issues faced by men, women can also use this traditional herbal remedy to help treat hormonal imbalances, manage acne, prevent hair loss, and more.
If you are considering using saw palmetto, consult a doctor first to ensure that the herb will not interact adversely with any other medications you may be taking.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Institute of Medicine (US) and National Research Council (US) Committee on the Framework for Evaluating the Safety of Dietary Supplements. Dietary Supplements: A Framework for Evaluating Safety. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2005. Appendix K, Prototype Focused Monograph: Review of Antiandrogenic Risks of Saw Palmetto Ingestion by Women. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK216069/
- Dobrev H. Clinical and instrumental study of the efficacy of a new sebum control cream. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2007 Jun;6(2):113-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2007.00306.x. PMID: 17524128.
- Pais P, Villar A, Rull S. Determination of the potency of a novel saw palmetto supercritical CO2 extract (SPSE) for 5α-reductase isoform II inhibition using a cell-free in vitro test system. Res Rep Urol. 2016 Apr 21;8:41-9. doi: 10.2147/RRU.S96576. PMID: 27186566; PMCID: PMC4847595.
- Evron E, Juhasz M, Babadjouni A, Mesinkovska NA. Natural Hair Supplement: Friend or Foe? Saw Palmetto, a Systematic Review in Alopecia. Skin Appendage Disord. 2020 Nov;6(6):329-337. doi: 10.1159/000509905. Epub 2020 Aug 23. PMID: 33313047; PMCID: PMC7706486.
- Yamada S, Shirai M, Ono K, Kageyama S. Beneficial Effects of Saw Palmetto Fruit Extract on Urinary Symptoms in Japanese Female Subjects by a Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2022 Mar 11;14(6):1190. doi: 10.3390/nu14061190. PMID: 35334848; PMCID: PMC8953103.