The first step to healthy, shiny hair is keeping it on your head, and that's where nettle and saw palmetto come in. These herbs help prevent hair loss by promoting the flow of nutrients down the hair shaft and inhibiting hormones that damage the hair follicles, according to the Add-Hair website.
About Hair Loss
One of the most common causes of hair loss is an accumulation of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the Add-Hair website states. Both men and women can produce too much of this hormone, which damages your hair follicles and leads to malnourished hair. DHT is produced via a reaction with testosterone and an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase; however, nettle and saw palmetto may prevent this reaction from occurring.
Nettle reduces symptoms associated with an enlargement of the prostate, which you might think is a vastly different condition to unhealthy hair. However, both conditions are triggered by similar factors, says the Add-Hair website, so nettle has also been linked to hair loss prevention and general hair health.
Saw Palmetto Benefits
Saw palmetto, one of the most widely used natural treatments for hair loss, helps prevent the production of 5-alpha reductase and, therefore, reduces the levels of DHT in your system, according to the Add-Hair website. Saw palmetto may protect cells from absorbing DHT.
Usage and Side Effects
Nettle and saw palmetto can be taken in tablet form or applied topically. Side effects are unlikely, or minimal, in most people. However, nettle can irritate some people's skin when applied topically and may cause stomach upset, bloating and difficulty urinating when taken orally, says the Hair Loss Learning Center. Saw palmetto can also cause stomach upset, as well as dizziness, nausea and, in rare cases, liver damage in some people, according to MedlinePlus.
While both of these supplements are generally considered safe, you should always check with your doctor before taking a new treatment. Nettle should not be used if you have heart or kidney problems. Meanwhile, particular care should be taken when using saw palmetto if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, MedlinePlus states, because it functions like a hormone and can be harmful to an unborn baby or infant. Saw palmetto may also reduce the effectiveness of some birth control pills.