Saw Palmetto and Testosterone: Why I’m not Recommending this Popular Herb

Saw palmetto is an extract made out of the fruit of a plant called serenoa repens.

It was a big time hit on the bodybuilding world some years ago, and sometimes it’s even claimed as the best testosterone booster of them all.

But really, it only increases testosterone at the expense of a more powerful hormone:

Saw Palmetto is a Potent 5-alpha reductase Inhibitor

saw palmetto increases testosterone but inhibits 5-alpha reductaseThere’s this enzyme called 5-αlpha reductase in your body, which converts testosterone into its more potent form of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

DHT is 3-10 times as strong as testosterone is, and most medical experts believe that it’s the principal androgen behind the development of genitals, male sexual function, body hair, beard growth, and muscle growth.

Actually many of the benefits of testosterone come from the fact that high testosterone most often also means high DHT, as there wouldn’t be any DHT without T.

So you most certainly don’t want to decrease the amounts of this crucial androgen.

And that’s where the problems with saw palmetto start…

It increases testosterone, but it does so by inhibiting the 5-α reductase enzyme, which means that the herb inhibits the conversion from testosterone to DHT. The result is that you will have more testosterone, as it can’t convert into DHT, but you will feel like shit as you’re only blocking the testoterone from converting into its more potent form.

As a man, you really don’t want to mess around with saw palmetto, or any other DHT inhibitor (post-finasteride forums and groups exists because some men completely destroyed their hormonal health with the 5-a blocking hair loss drug).

Here’s what science says about this nasty extract:

a) One study saw that saw palmetto blocks DHT production via inhibiting the 5-a enzyme, and also by working as an alpha-1 adrenergic antagonist.

b) another one found out similar results, saw palmetto inhibited the 5-α enzyme, thus also blocked dihydrotestosterone.

c) This study found out that saw palmetto can have a side effect of sexual dysfunction, which really isn’t a surprise when it blocks the main androgen behind sexual function.

d) This study found out that saw palmetto might help men who have enlargened prostates, as it can relieve bening prostate hyperplastia (BPH). However the benefits are miniscule on the side of the big negatives.

e) One study saw a 32% decrease in DHT after saw palmetto supplementation. They also found out that a hair loss drug called Finasteride had similar effects (more about the dangers of Finasteride here).

f) This study found out that men who used 320 mg’s of daily saw palmetto extract for 3 months, had significantly higher testosterone levels, but also significantly lower DHT levels than the control group. They also found out that saw palmetto didn’t relieve the symptoms of bening prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which is nothing new as DHT is really not the cause for prostate problems, neither is testosterone.


Even though many guys swear by the name of saw palmetto as a testosterone booster, it works but it doesn’t work through the “correct” pathways.

It simply increases testosterone as it blocks the conversion from testosterone into DHT, which leaves more T to your serum.

And that’s not a good thing for sure.

So that’s why I will never use, or recommend saw palmetto.

Saw Palmetto and Testosterone: Why I’m not Recommending this Popular Herb was last modified: March 27th, 2017 by Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala is the founder of Anabolic Men, and an Independent Researcher that has been credited with organizing the findings that have helped thousands of men reach hormonal balance.
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  1. Philip Brewer on 07/07/2015 at 08:14

    Very interesting. I have been taking saw palmetto for years, believing it helped reduce the number of toilet visits during the night. So, if this is not so, what item might be taken if I cease the saw palmetto regimen?

    • John F. Hebert on 17/02/2016 at 07:30

      Yeah i wish he’d answer the question.

    • Green Deane on 12/03/2016 at 01:30

      You might want to look into the combination of taking Nettle Root morning and night, and for an added boost, pumpkin seed oil morning and night, or a couple of ounces of pumpkin seeds morning and night.

  2. David on 04/09/2015 at 18:48

    Interesting Article Ali, any suggestions on alternatives for those of us with BPH?

    • Adam on 02/03/2016 at 15:41

      Since elevated blood estrogen levels are commonly the reason for BPH, I would start with a high quality resveratrol supplement every day.

  3. Midas777 on 28/11/2015 at 23:42

    I am so glad I found this article. I started taking saw palmetto a couple of weeks ago and I began noticing a drop in my libido. I was not sure what the cause was. Now I understand. The bottle of saw palmetto is now in the garbage.
    Thank you

  4. John F. Hebert on 17/02/2016 at 07:29

    If I cant take saw palmetto how am I to combat enlarged prostate?

    • Adam on 02/03/2016 at 15:41

      Get your estrogen under control. I’d start with a reputable resveratrol product.

    • Green Deane on 12/03/2016 at 01:31

      Nettle Root powder morning and night and pumpkin seed oil morning and night.

  5. Adam on 02/03/2016 at 15:42

    Please update us as to whether you’ve recovered from these side effects. Sometimes they can last years or even be lifelong from taking 5ar inhibitors.

    • Cloud Smoke on 26/04/2016 at 07:39

      Ive been takin it and workin out by running hills, theres no side effects if you bust ass workin hard cause i get erections hard as rocks everyday ahd my muscles are just fuckin pumped and lately ive gathered enough confidence to ask woman out and im almost 25, highly recommend this combined with ginkgo biloba and valerian root

      • Adam on 26/04/2016 at 14:52

        Be careful to account for all variables before you highly recommend anything to anyone. You may be lucky enough to be one of the people unaffected by saw palmetto. The side effects don’t occur for everyone, but I assure you they are especially devastating for those who get them.

        You could say the same thing about cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. Lots of people have been able to use these products for years and claim to feel great, while it was a nail in the coffin for others. Again, goes to the whole being careful about what you recommend.

        Saw Palmetto’s mechanism of action is actually a form of chemical castration. It literally stops the conversion of testosterone into the very hormone that makes you male: DHT. DHT is necessary for you to have a sex drive, body hair, a deep voice and hard muscles. Testosterone by itself has no characteristics as a sex hormone without DHT.

        Again, you may be lucky not to be affected by saw palmetto, or you’re just lucky for the time being. I have spent years researching saw palmettos effects. Some people are affected quickly by it and spend years after cessation still experiencing symptoms of sexual dysfunction, depression, brain fog and a myriad of other effects. For others, the symptoms come on slowly and gradually, leaving you not really noticing them until you’re eventually hit hard.

        Everyone is different. Again, another reason why I’d be very careful to ever “highly recommend” something with such a demonstrated track record of consequences.

        Aside from the possibility that you aren’t affected by saw palmetto yet, or may not be at all, the uptick in erections probably has a lot to do with the gingko biloba, which is a well known natural remedy for erectile dysfunction. It not only increases blood flow to the brain, but to the penis as well. And valerian has qualities as a relaxant. The more relaxed you are, the better erections you will achieve.

        All I’m telling you is to be careful. Your response to this pharmacologically-active herb is not the end-all/be-all for everyone.

        • stevo on 03/05/2016 at 22:10

          Hi Adam,

          Good stuff. Saw palmetto is one of those herbs that drives me crazy with mixed research from some reputable sources as well.

          I am 48 and took it for 5 years (extract & berry on and off) I used to think it help my test levels and well being. I stopped it inconsistently Now I think I’m paying the price and still get tortured by wondering if I should go back on it . I torture myself everyday with it. But when I do take it I think it causes brain fog, low energy, bloating, joint pain.

          It seems when people stop taking it is when the shit hits the fan from the research I have gathered.

  6. Green Deane on 12/03/2016 at 01:31

    There is absolutely no doubt that saw palmetto can take the lead out of the pencil.

  7. Jacob Cruze on 10/02/2017 at 16:31

    i took saw palmetto when i was 25 and working out trying to boost test levels. it made the glands(the ones that clean toxins) at the back of my neck became swollen. i stopped, my dad has prostate problems(age 64) and I’m trying to help him out, I also don’t want to ever get this problem.

  8. Derek J Marshall on 12/02/2017 at 06:26

    Saw Palmetto blocks the production of estrogen and proestrogen leaving your body with more free testosterone. What are your thought on that Ali?

  9. atom on 09/04/2017 at 20:19

    dang dude. Have you read your cited studies? The results attributed to lowered DHT are a product of testing finasteride and Serenoa repens (Permixon) NOT saw palmetto. Disappointing.

    • Dave on 23/06/2017 at 17:26

      Wait, isn’t Serenoa repens saw palmetto?

  10. Tony Wallis on 19/04/2017 at 15:33

    I use to compete in the 90s bodybuilding naturals but then progressed to using some form of T. years later, I’m now 56 years young. I started male pattern baldness young so I don’t really have an issue with it now, but nonetheless I want to save what I do have as I have heard so many negative things about the conversion to the nasty androgens on the scalp. I had been taking saw Palmetto thinking it would save me from what my grandfather and dad had prostate wise. In my move from Australia to Canada I had put on some weight yet my diet was quite clean. What’s causing this I wondered.

    So, I recently started back on a formulated test cream. But still take a limited amount of saw Palmetto. My training vigor is going extremely well, libido, well, I am a very happy man down there in total masculinity and it feels great to have muscle soreness from all he workouts and cardio. Been training like a beast. I wonder what I can do to at least protect the scalp. any suggestions welcome. Cheers

  11. Chris on 20/05/2017 at 11:27

    Would you say you have a conflict of interest? Take this guy’s “opinion” with a grain of salt. Obviously, he’s biased for monetary reasons. He may or may not be correct.

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