Hirsutism is a condition that causes women to grow excess hair on the face and other areas of the body where men usually grow hair, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. Approximately half of women with hirsutism have unusually high amounts of androgen, or male sex hormones. High levels of androgens can be caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. Saw palmetto is sometimes suggested as an herbal remedy for unwanted facial hair growth and other symptoms of hirsutism caused by PCOS. Talk to your health care provider about taking saw palmetto.
An estimated 8 percent of women in the US have hirsutism, according to the UMMC. Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is the most widespread hormonal disorder among women of childbearing age. Research continues into the exact cause of PCOS. Women with insulin resistance and low-grade inflammation appear to be more susceptible to the condition. Heredity also appears to play a role.
The most common symptoms of hirsutism is hair growth on the upper lip, breasts and abdomen, according to the UMMC. Women with hirsutism may also develop high blood pressure, a deepened voice, reduced breast size and enlarged ovaries. PCOS may be present when menstrual cycles are irregular, reports the Mayo Clinic website.
Effects and Dosage
Saw palmetto may reduce levels of male hormones due its anti-androgenic effects, according to the UMMC. Saw palmetto is sometimes recommended an an herbal remedy for PCOS, but little evidence exists to support its effectiveness. The recommended dosage of saw palmetto for symptoms of hirsutism is 160 mg twice daily. Ask your doctor about the therapeutic benefits of saw palmetto for unwanted facial hair.
Saw palmetto is generally regarded as safe when taken as recommended. In rare cases saw palmetto may cause minor abdominal discomfort. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take saw palmetto since it may mimic the effects of certain hormones, advises the UMMC.
People who take blood thinning medications should use caution when taking saw palmetto since it can increase the risk of bleeding. Saw palmetto may also interfere with iron absorption.
Hirsutism and the excess facial hair it can produce is usually not preventable, according to the Mayo Clinic. If PCOS is the cause of hirsutism, losing excess weight and preventing insulin resistance may help reduce androgen levels. Getting regular exercise can help manage your weight and guard against insulin resistance.