The sexual side effect profile of Propecia is well established, effecting to varying degrees approximately 4 in 10 users according to prescribing physicians. This is in contrast to Merck’s official incidence of sexual side effects reported in the Physician’s Desk Reference of “2% or less” which was obviously a sham, designed not to prejudice sales. Even more ominous are the neurological/psychiatric side effects of finasteride, which recent data suggest that in addition to sexual side effects, may indefinitely persist after discontinuation.
Saw Palmetto Extract has also accumulated some evidence in published studies as a viable hair growth treatment. One study compared its effects to Propecia, finding that although Propecia was slightly superior, Saw Palmetto Extract did in fact, produce a hair growth effect.
Assuming that Saw Palmetto may have the same side effects as Propecia, has rightfully prompted many to avoid this as a treatment altogether. The fact is that they actually have different mechanisms of action in regards to neutralizing DHT that produce gradual hair growth effects. Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) reduces serum DHT levels by about 65 %. Saw Palmetto Extract inhibits DHT binding to receptor sites in all tissue samples tested, including skin.
This recently published study implies that not only is Saw Palmetto Extract free of sexual side effects, it may also ENHANCE male function, which is the opposite of what Propecia is documented to do.
Urology. 2013 Jun;81(6):1380.e7-13. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2012.12.062. Epub 2013 Apr 23.
Saw palmetto extract enhances erectile responses by inhibition of phosphodiesterase 5 activity and increase in inducible nitric oxide synthase messenger ribonucleic acid expression in rat and rabbit corpus cavernosum.
Yang S, Chen C, Li Y, Ren Z, Zhang Y, Wu G, Wang H, Hu Z, Yao M.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether saw palmetto extract (SPE) relaxes corpus cavernosum and explore the underlying mechanisms.
METHODS: Forty Sprague-Dawley rats and 30 New Zealand rabbits were randomly allocated into 3 SPE-treated groups (low-, middle-, and high-dose) and 1 saline-treated control group. SPE was administered intragastrically for 7 consecutive days. Another 23 rats treated with sildenafil were used to appraise the erectile response to electrical stimulation of nerves in the corpus cavernosum. The erectile functions of rats and rabbits were evaluated 24 hours after the last SPE administration or 15 minutes after intragastric sildenafil. Outcome measures included corpus cavernosum electrical activity recording, phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) activity detected by the colorimetric quantitative method, and messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression level for PDE5 and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) determined using real-time polymerase chain reaction.;
RESULTS: In the SPE-treated animals, the relaxant response to electrical stimulation of nerves in the corpus cavernosum, reflected by the amplitude of the electrical activity within the cavernosum, was significantly and dose-dependently augmented. Similar effects were observed in the sildenafil-treated rats. PDE5 activity in rat and rabbit corpus cavernosum tissues was significantly and dose-dependently inhibited in SPE-treated animals, whereas the iNOS mRNA level increased compared with the saline group. PDE5 mRNA, however, was only significantly enhanced in the rats treated with the middle dose of SPE.
CONCLUSION: The results suggest that SPE may have potential application value for the prevention or treatment of erectile dysfunction through an increase in iNOS mRNA expression and inhibition of PDE5 activity in corpus cavernosum smooth muscles.
Whether or not Saw Palmetto can be used to concurrently with Propecia to manage male side effects (and give an additional hair growth benefit ) is unclear, but is certainly a possibility.
If you choose to use a Saw Palmetto Extract supplement, keep in mind that there is a significant variability of effectiveness between extracts, despite the identical extract concentrate being listed across a wide range of brands.
Our Ultra Natural Prostate formula—which is also used for hair loss treatment—provides the latest scientifically validated, standardized botanical extracts shown to promote both hair growth and healthy prostate function. No other phytosterol formula provides a stronger critical C02 extract of Saw Palmetto and such a broad array of nutrients to address the multiple hormonal factors involved in androgenetic hair loss and prostate enlargement .