Saw Palmetto is not a natural or effective alternative to Propecia.
You've heard that Saw Palmetto is a "natural" and "safe" and "effective" alternative to Propecia. We're not so sure that is the case, and here is why...The whole topic of using Saw Palmetto as an internal DHT inhibitor for the treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia (Male or Female Pattern Baldness) has been hotly debated over the years. The reason why is simple. People think that since it "inhibits DHT" it must not only work like Propecia, but also work as well as Propecia. The fact is, it's not that simple. Saw Palmetto *is* a potent modulator of your hormones, and it can cause side effects (both good and bad), but just because something can inhibit DHT does not automatically mean it can stop hair loss.
"Natural" doesn't necessarily mean "Safe"
Kiss a frog in the United States and you may get a prince. Kiss the wrong frog in africa and you're dead. The pretty looking "Poison Dart Frog" is about as natural as you can get, and this little thing is more evidence that natural does not always mean "safer". In fact, when it comes to herbal remedies, many times it can mean "unregulated" and more dangerous to certain people. One of our users followed the advice of a "natural treatments" proponent on our discussion forums awhile back, and ended up in the hospital with severe internal bleeding. This advocate of treating hair "naturally" had come to our forums, criticizing everyone who recommended proven products over herbal concoctions, labeling them "herbal bashers". He unequivocally told the guy to use such and such herb, instead of "making more money for Merck Pharmaceuticals by taking Propecia". It turned out that this particular herb should not be used by people with his particular condition, and he almost died. This is an extreme example, but the point remains the same - anyone can pick up any herb at any store without the knowledge or consent of their physician and many "natural" herbs can be dangerous to certain individuals. Don't believe us?
It should also be noted that there isn't a single shred of scientific evidence that any herb on planet earth has shown success in treating hair loss. Just because something inhibits DHT does not make it a hair loss treatment. Just because an herb has been shown to shock the follicles into short term growth, either by stimulating more bloodflow, or by some other means, does not make that herb a hair loss treatment. The thing that separates the "men" from the "boys" in treating hair loss, is that it must work for a minimum of one year. Short term growth stimulation can be attained by anything from rubbing your head daily, to stimulating bloodflow with things like topical niacin. The problem is, the hair stimulated will *not* last.
Fortunately, documentation for herbal products is on the rise, and there now are reference materials on the web like the one shown above, that list known side effects. You should consult this list before taking any. The medical community is also slowly starting to interact with the Naturopathic community, and along with this is coming the development of documentation, checks and balances, regulation, and safety protocols that haven't existed for natural products in the past.
Herbal Products Need more Clinical Data
There is no doubt that herbal products are, in the opinion of HairlossTalk.com, the untapped gem of the medical community, and we are frustrated at the lack of attention they've been given. Herbal products do help, and many times can work more safely and effectively than prescription products will. An acidophilus capsule can cure diarrhea in 90% of cases without a second thought. The new product called "Zicam" which is nothing more than a zinc nasal spray has been clinically proven to stop the common cold. Broccoli has been shown in extensive studies to reduce the incidence of cancer by nearly 60%, and carry out about a hundred other important roles in the human body. The data is there, if someone's willing to do it. Clinical data is clinical data, and it should be carried out and expected of herbal products just like every other product on the market, for all the same reasons: Safety, Verification of Effectiveness, and Establishing the proper dose.
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