Why You Should NEVER Take Saw Palmetto for Acne

As I’ve mentioned in my post about my history with cystic acne, I’ve tried basically everything (except Accutane) to get rid of my pimples.

After being failed by what felt like every prescription and over-the-counter acne treatment in existence, I started looking into alternative options.

I focused more on what I was putting in my body instead of the gels and creams I was putting on my skin. I cut out dairy, started eating low GI foods, reduced my caffeine intake, all that good stuff.

As part of this newfound focus on how my internal body chemistry could help my acne, I also started researching nutritional supplements that could help.

And that is what led to the worst acne breakout I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.

What is Saw Palmetto?

Among the other supplements and alternative remedies suggested for treating acne was saw palmetto.

I’d never heard of it before, but there were quite a few YouTube videos of women who claimed that they used saw palmetto to once-and-for-all cure their hormonal acne.

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Saw palmetto supplements are essentially just the dried and crushed fruit of the saw palmetto plant, also called the American Dwarf Palm Tree. You can find it growing wild in Florida.

Traditionally, saw palmetto benefits men who take it as a supplement by supporting their prostate and urinary health. It can treat certain kinds of prostate infections and can even be used in the treatment of prostate cancer. Powerful stuff.

However, women have also begun to experiment with taking the supplement as an alternative acne treatment medicine.

Saw Palmetto for Women

The thinking behind women taking saw palmetto for acne is the (misguided) belief that it can help lower the production of androgens in your body.

Androgens are hormones that both men and women produce, but because androgens are made up of hormones like testosterone, they often get labeled as male hormones.

In addition to testosterone, androgens also include the hormones DHT and DHEA ( dihydrotestosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone, respectively). Testosterone, DHT, and DHEA can all contribute to acne in women when they are produced in excess.

Saw palmetto is thought to be an excellent anti-androgen supplement, so women take it hoping it will counteract what they perceive as an over-production of acne-causing androgens.

HOWEVER, there is no research to support the anti-androgenic claims about saw palmetto.

In fact, clinical trials from 2006 and 2008 revealed that saw palmetto wasn’t any more effective at reducing androgen levels than a simple placebo. And a 2012 review of this research called the anti-androgenic claims about saw palmetto “far from convincing.”

Nevertheless, YouTube is a thing. And since there are women on YouTube claiming that saw palmetto cured their acne, other acne-ridden women are bound to give the supplement a try, too.

I was one of those acne-ridden women.

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I’m not going to call out the YouTuber whose video I watched that convinced me saw palmetto was something I needed to try. But I did watch a video of a woman who seemed to share my pain and struggles with hormonal adult acne.

She praised saw palmetto for its anti-androgenic effects (I didn’t know how unfounded these claims were at the time), and said taking the supplement once a day had drastically helped her hormonal acne.

‘I’ve tried everything else,’ I thought. ‘I have nothing to lose.’ I ordered a bottle off Amazon that day.

The Horrible Side Effects of Saw Palmetto

A few days after I started taking the supplement, I noticed that my skin was purging a bit. This is pretty common with many acne treatments and medications, so I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I’d have to wait the purge out.

Read more  Is Saw Palmetto Effective For Acne? Know The Truth Here

A few days later, I had to acknowledge the fact that something was seriously wrong. My face had broken out in dozens of painful, red pimples.

The acne seemed to be coming from every pore on the lower half of my face. My cheeks and jawline were especially affected.

Since taking the saw palmetto supplement was the only drastic change I’d made to my acne treatment routine, I was pretty sure that the supplement was the reason for this heinous breakout. Sure enough, when I stopped taking the saw palmetto, the breakout stopped.

However, let me be clear that “the breakout stopped” doesn’t mean that my skin went back to normal. The breakout stopped getting worse, but the damage was done. More than a month later, my skin is still far from completely recovering from what saw palmetto did to it.

I want to be mad at YouTube and at the saw palmetto plant in general but, in the end, the only person I can really be mad at is myself. I didn’t do nearly enough research into this supplement before taking it.

I thought the words “herbal” and “natural” were enough to safeguard against any major reactions I might experience from the supplement. Needless to say, I was wrong. Natural supplements, and especially concentrated herbal supplements, can be very powerful.

You should always research a supplement thoroughly before adding it to your Amazon cart.

Because, even though you think your skin can’t get any worse, it can.

Have you ever had a bad reaction to a supplement or skincare product? Tell me what to avoid in the comments section below!

— Update: 06-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Is Saw Palmetto Effective For Acne? Know The Truth Here from the website www.stylecraze.com for the keyword how much saw palmetto to take for hormonal acne.

What Is Saw Palmetto?


Saw palmetto or Serenoa repens is a small shrub resembling a palm tree that grows only in sandy soil, typically underneath the pinewoods and hardwood hammocks. It is native to the southeast United States and also grows along the plains and sandy areas of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast.

The plant produces dark-colored berries known for their several nutritional properties. The Native Americans use the berries as sedatives, diuretics, and aphrodisiacs. The oil extracted from these berries is used as a nutritional supplement for health and skin care benefits. The extracts are also used in topical preparations and are claimed to reduce acne.

The Benefits Of Saw Palmetto For Acne


Saw palmetto extract works as an anti-androgen and has anti-inflammatory benefits, which helps minimize acne (1).

Conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome can increase adrenal androgen levels, which may increase excess sebum production and make your skin acne-prone. Taking saw palmetto extracts can reduce androgen levels, controlling contributory factors to acne. Saw palmetto extract also lowers the DHT levels and helps minimize acne inflammation. It can be used as a monotherapy or as a combination therapy for acne (1).

A clinical trial examining the efficacy of a sebum control cream containing saw palmetto extract, sesame seeds, and argan oil on oily skin found that 95% of the volunteers reported sebum-regulatory effects of the cream. In addition, it reduced greasiness in oily skin (2).

Scientific research is minimal to prove the efficacy of saw palmetto for hormonal and any other forms of acne. However, it might be helpful to some extent.

If you are interested in trying this ingredient, continue reading for the best ways to use saw palmetto for acne.

How Can You Use Saw Palmetto For Acne?


You can use saw palmetto extracts in the following ways:

  •  Consume saw palmetto supplements (after consulting your doctor).
  •  Eat dry saw palmetto berries.
  •  Apply saw palmetto essential oil as a spot treatment. Remember to always dilute it with a carrier oil.
  •  Use lotions, creams, and gels containing saw palmetto extract.

Anecdotal evidence is mixed regarding the efficacy of saw palmetto extracts. While some people reported improvement in their acne, others saw no effect or experienced a flare-up. Therefore, it is better to test the ingredient to check for its effectiveness.

Always perform a patch test before using saw palmetto products on your skin. If you develop an allergic reaction, avoid further use and consult your physician immediately. Do not take saw palmetto supplements without consulting the doctor as they might cause side effects.

Read more  Why Am I Always So Cold? 7 Possible Reasons.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Saw Palmetto?


Most people using saw palmetto for skin can tolerate it well without any reactions. However, you can develop some mild side effects if you consume the ingredient. These side effects include:

  •  Indigestion
  •  Abdominal pain
  •  Diarrhea
  •  Nausea and vomiting
  •  Tiredness
  •  Headache
  •  Constipation

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid taking saw palmetto in any form. As it interferes with the hormonal balance (androgens), children below 12 and women below 18 should avoid them.
Always check with your doctor before using saw palmetto for the skin or taking any such supplements. It may also cause drug interaction, so let them know about any other medications or supplements you are currently using.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for saw palmetto to work for acne?

It may take 4 to 6 weeks for saw palmetto to show any results. Consult a doctor for further information.

Does saw palmetto increase estrogen?

Currently, there are no studies that suggest that saw palmetto increases estrogen levels.

What does saw palmetto do for women?

Saw palmetto may help in the treatment of women suffering from androgenic alopecia, hirsutism, hyperandrogenism, and acne (2).


— Update: 06-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article HOW TO GET RID OF HORMONAL ACNE THE NATURAL WAY from the website www.idarahampton.com for the keyword how much saw palmetto to take for hormonal acne.

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Are you ready to kick hormonal acne to the curb?  How would you like an all-natural, safe, and effective way to do it? Look no further than saw palmetto.

What Is Saw Palmetto?

Saw palmetto is a small palm tree native to eastern regions of the United States. Its ripe fruit is used to make medicine.  Its extract is believed to be a highly effective anti-androgen as it contains phytosterols. 

This has been the subject of a great deal of research with regards to the treatment of androgenic alopecia (hair loss), and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).  More people are looking to natural remedies to fix issues they would normally turn to a doctor for. 

If you’ve ever struggled with or continue to struggle with hormonal acne you might already be familiar with medicine designed to control your androgen levels.  Doctors often prescribe Spironolactone to female acne sufferers for its anti-androgen effects.


Along with spearmint and green tea, saw palmetto has been noted to lower androgen levels which can assist in the management of acne.Along with spearmint and green tea, saw palmetto has been noted to lower androgen levels which can assist in the management of acne.Click to Tweet

People have safely used it for years.  Mayans drank it as a tonic.  American Indians used it to treat reproductive system problems. 

European and American medical practitioners used it as well.  For nearly 200 years they treated a variety of conditions with that powerful plant.

How Does It Help Get Rid of Acne?

Saw palmetto has gained popularity for its ability to help get rid of hormonal acne.  It is considered an anti-androgen.  As a result, it lowers the activity of androgen hormones such as testosterone inside your body.

Androgens activate the production of sebum or oil.  Excess oil can trigger acne breakouts.  Keeping oil in check before it can create a problem is key.  Saw palmetto can help with the hormonal ups and downs associated with monthly cycles and menopause.

Additionally, it can help keep testosterone from being converted to a stronger form of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  Conditions that can benefit from this kind of hormonal balancing act are:

  • acne
  • benign prostatic hyperplasia
  • carcinoma of the prostate
  • hirsutism
  • male pattern baldness
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)


Saw Palmetto & Acne

Saw palmetto contains fatty acids that can benefit acne-prone skin.  It is also packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

It lowers DHT levels to bring down the production of oil.  According to in vitro research, it blocks cyclooxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase pathways. 

Saw palmetto helps lower levels of COX-2 and it promotes an anti-inflammatory environment.  Inflammation is a major player in causing acne. 

So keeping inflammation low in the body is vital.  Inflammation is at the root of many diseases so keeping it at a minimum not only benefits your skin, it benefits your entire body.

Read more  12 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack

Avoid eating foods that promote inflammation.  Remember to stay away from the three whites: white flour, white sugar, and dairy.


Saw Palmetto & PCOS

PCOS sufferers often struggle from acne.  Adrenal androgens are found in higher levels in PCOS sufferers.  Tissues such as the skin and liver convert weaker androgens into the more powerful ones. 

Saw palmetto helps here too because it is an anti-androgen and has anti-inflammatory effects.  In addition to saw palmetto, spearmint tea has been used for many years because of its testosterone reducing properties. 

Its anti-androgenic properties reduce the level of free testosterone in the blood.  It is widely used in Middle Eastern regions as an herbal remedy.   

How much saw palmetto to take for hormonal acne



What Is the Recommended Amount to Take?

The best dosage of saw palmetto for skin issues like acne has not been established. A single daily dose of 320-500 mg may be effective.

Not all herbal products are created equally.  Look for a product that has 85-95% fatty acids and sterols.  Check with your doctor about the dosage recommendation. 

Not everyone will react the same way to it.  Some have had stellar results and others not so much.  Don’t expect results overnight.  Give it a month and see if it helps your acne situation.  

What Else is Saw Palmetto Good For?

Although there isn’t much evidence to support the use of saw palmetto for a variety of conditions, it has been used for the following:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Colds and coughs
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Increasing breast size
  • Male and female pattern baldness
  • Migraine headache
  • Prostate surgery
  • Reducing bleeding after prostate surgery
  • Sore throat


What Are the Side Effects of Taking Saw Palmetto?

Taking saw palmetto is safe for most people.  If side effects do occur, they’re mild and include constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting.  

Since saw palmetto does act like a hormone, it could have unwanted side effects for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.  Do not use it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

It seems to lower estrogen levels in the body. Taking it at the same time as estrogen pills might lower the effectiveness of estrogen pills. 

Speaking of estrogen, some birth control pills contain it.  Estrogen’s effects on the body might decrease when taking saw palmetto.

Taking birth control pills and saw palmetto at the same time might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills.   Use an additional form of birth control if you take birth control pills along with saw palmetto.

Do not use it two weeks prior to surgery.  It might slow blood clotting and cause extra bleeding during and after surgery.

Be aware that taking saw palmetto along with other medications that slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.  Aspirin, Advil, and Motrin are just a few meds that slow clotting.


Saw palmetto can be an effective remedy for hormonal acne if excess androgens are the cause of stubborn jawline and chin acne.  The best way to know which of your hormones are responsible for hormonal acne is to get your hormones tested.


Otherwise, you could easily waste time, energy and money on a treatment that would not work for you personally.  I wish there was one simple remedy for everyone who suffers from acne, but there isn’t. 

Knowledge is power, so find out what your hormone levels are before you start any program that can impact them.   You can get them tested at a doctor’s office. 

There are companies like EverlyWell that will ship kits to your home so you can test them yourself.  If you find that too many androgens are the cause of stubborn jawline and chin acne give saw palmetto a try.

What do you think about using saw palmetto to treat hormonal acne?




Grant P, Ramasamy S., “An update on plant derived anti-androgens,” Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Spring;10(2):497-502. doi: 10.5812/ijem.3644. Epub 2012 Apr 20, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23843810

Reddy V, Bubna AK, Veeraraghavan M, Rangarajan S. Saw palmetto extract: A dermatologist’s perspective. Indian J Drugs Dermatol [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 May 4];3:11-3. Available from: http://www.ijdd.in/text.asp?2017/3/1/11/209042


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About the Author: Tung Chi