Benefits of Saw Palmetto for Acne

Saw palmetto may inhibit hormone-driven acne.
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Acne is a common skin condition that affects men and women of all ages. It occurs as the pores in your skin become clogged. Symptoms and severity of acne can vary, but typical signs of acne include blackheads, whiteheads and inflamed growths, which are known as pimples or zits. While the treatment of acne typically consists of oral and topical medications, proponents of saw palmetto claim that this herb can control and reduce acne symptoms. Talk with your doctor regarding to the use of saw palmetto, especially if you're taking medications.

Active Compounds

The primary active compounds in saw palmetto are a combination of flavonoids, plant sterols and fatty acids. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that this herb contains a high concentration of polysaccharides, which work in your body as an anti-inflammatory agent and an immune system booster. Researchers believe saw palmetto directly alters testosterone levels in your body by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.


Hormone-Driven Acne

Studies regarding the effectiveness of saw palmetto are limited, but preliminary findings suggest that this herb may help hinder the development of hormone-driven acne in both men and women. Researchers from the Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines and Catalina Lifesciences found that as testosterone is converted to DHT, the shift in hormones can cause enlarged prostate and baldness in men and acne in both men and women. Because this conversion process can lead to an overproduction of sebum in the oil glands, which causes pimples and inflammation, hindering the conversion may help lessen the severity of acne breakouts. Dr. Richard Fried reports in the article "Saw Palmetto as a Treatment for Acne" that while saw palmetto does show promise, its effects on treating acne can range dramatically from individual to individual.


There is no official saw palmetto dosage recommendation for the treatment of acne. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that consuming 160 milligrams twice a day may be effective for treating BPH and testosterone conversion. Make sure the saw palmetto supplement contains 85 to 95 percent fatty acids and plant sterols for maximum effectiveness. Talk with your doctor regarding dosage recommendations.


Saw palmetto is generally considered safe for healthy adults; however, as with any natural supplements, side effects are possible. The most common ones are mild stomach irritation and headaches. Because saw palmetto affects hormone levels, if you are taking oral contraceptives, discuss the use of this herb with your physician. The American Cancer Society warns that long-term effects of using saw palmetto have not been thoroughly studied.