More on Hair Health, Alopecia, Minoxidil, Saw Palmetto

It’s such a relief to stop using minoxidil (Rogaine, Lipogaine, etc).

After the initial wow I had using 5%, the side effects influenced me to switch 2%. Much better. However, the side effects of minoxidil are cumulative. I’m getting personal here, but tweezing your face twice a week, than once a day, than twice a day, will get to a girl after awhile. Then there was the side effect of depression. Not really strong, but a constant feeling of uneasiness that seemed to lessen considerably whenever I forgot to use minoxidil for a few days. Nate noticed it, too. Of course I also lost an alarming amount of hair and would start using it again.

I won’t comment on the side effect of weight gain except to say that it made an ordinary battle to stay fit harder. Nobody wants that.

So I’m done. And I already am experiencing the benefits of quitting. In one week I’ve gone from having to use the tweezer twice a day to twice a week. And what’s there is much finer in texture.

To counteract the withdrawal I knew I would experience quitting minoxidil (you lose all your hair gain in a matter of weeks if you quit minoxidil – no such thing as using it for awhile and then quitting if you want good results), I’m using megadoses of topical and internal saw palmetto – an herb. The only herb I know of with a reputation for stopping hair shed.

I told myself if I experienced the hair shed, I would mix minoxidil with it and go off of it more slowly. But in the end, I went cold turkey. It’s been a week so far. I know from experience that I would have lost a lot of hair already going cold turkey, but I’m not. In fact, I experience less hair shed than I did on Lipogaine.

Every day:

I take one dose of Hair Repair from Whole Body Research (includes over 300mg of saw palmetto) and

I absolutely douse the crown of my head in Surface Awaken Therapeutic Treatment, the second ingredient of which is Saw Palmetto. You can’t skimp with this stuff – I pour it on thick.

And that’s all I’m doing right now. Both products contain all the B vitamins and the Saw Palmetto also has all the amino acids which make up hair, as well as many other minerals, herbs and vitamins which help to maintain hair health. Between the two you are doing the essential things I’ve learned you must do to even have a chance against hair loss:

Block DHT.

Cause new growth.

Nourish hair.

They are 3 separate things which require 3 separate types of ingredients. Rogaine or minoxidil, for example, is a drug that artificially causes new growth but it doesn’t block DHT, so if you use it all by itself you could get new hair that gets attacked by DHT. If you block DHT only, you may not get new hair growth in places you have lost hair. And if you don’t nourish hair, the combination of the above might result in weak hair that is easily damaged or breaks off. This is not to say that effectively doing all 3 is easy. We are still in a stage of a lot of research when it comes to restoring lost hair from stress, genetics, medical conditions or trauma.

Here’s the picture from a few months back after using minoxidil-based products for about 4 months. Read more about my experience before and after minoxidil here.

Here is a picture of my hair after 1 year and 5 months of minoxidil use and the week after I stopped using minoxidil based products respectively:

minoxidil and saw palmetto hair loss



(The first picture is product free and the second two were both after having done my hair). The only thing that’s really clear in my mind is that the Surface Awaken and Hair Repair have kept me from losing any progress I made with Lipogaine (Minoxidil) so far, though it’s only been a week. This is unexpected and of course, makes me hopeful that I will not have to go back on the stuff ever. The 2% was not quite as amazingly effective as the 5% anyway (though it was effective) but I just don’t think I can live with the increasing side effects for the rest of my life, which is, of course, what you have to be prepared to do if you use minoxidil-based products.

I’ll try to keep you all posted.

Interesting fact about Saw Palmetto: even though it is claimed by many (note the word claimed) to promote new hair growth, it also is prescribed by alternative medicine doctors and used by patients to reduce unwanted body hair. If it works, it brings many interesting questions to mind about drugs versus herbs, and the healing code many believe to be in herbs. The only way I can imagine saw palmetto to do this simultaneously is that by working with the female hormonal system, instead of just blindly causing hair growth (anyway and everywhere), like minoxidil tends to.



29 thoughts on “More on Hair Health, Alopecia, Minoxidil, Saw Palmetto

  1. Thanks for the update. So even religiously using the Rogaine your hair loss continued? Did you only stop the Rogaine due to the side effects or because you saw the hair loss continue? Also, how much and what kind of saw palmetto do you use? I found some at Walmart but the bottle says for men only. I wasnt sure if there was a different brand to look into? Thanks!


    1. I would have said it was normal hair loss until I switched this last week to saw palmetto, then I REALLY stopped shedding. Like I used to go to yoga and there was so much hair all over my mat – it was a little embarrassing. It’s only been a week however. I did use it religiously. I stopped because of the side effects. I’ve tried to stop in the past. I lost a LOT of hair in a week. Like 3-4 months of “progress.” Not this time. The only variable is the saw palmetto. There are many forms of the herb with various strengths. I vouch for Hair Repair from Whole Body Research and Surface Awaken.


      1. Hi Marisa I’ve been reading your posts and found them very interesting and informative. The part where you mention amino acids made me want to ask you if you ever thought of protein drinks. I thought protein mixes like whey were only for working out but I found out some have all the amino acids including the 4-5 acids which are the main factors in creating new hair. The names allude me at the moment. But Walmart sells them but just check out the back label and look for ones that have more than just BCAA’s (branch chain amino acid)


      2. Hi Jonathan! I’ve been drinking the best protein drink I can find lately – Orgain Organic. Hemp seed, Chia. I love it. Haven’t noticed a huge difference in my hair though.


  2. An interesting read, thanks. I had great results with rogaine for 3 years but then it stopped started thinning again and I gave up with it two years ago. I didn’t lose it all but slowly I’ve lost a bit more. I’ve just been diagnosed after all these years with pcos so now I finally have an answer for my AGA. My nutritionist has put me on saw p and I’ve been on it 4 weeks so I’ll see how it goes. May look into topical stuff like you, too.


    1. I really like the topical stuff. For me, whenever I quit minoxidil, I immediately lose all “new” hair. Maybe that’s just me. I really hope you have even better luck on Saw Palmetto than you did with minoxidil. I hope knowing the root of the problem (PCOS) really helps you. I’m sorry to hear you have this, as I know it can be very painful and problematic! (I don’t know that much about it but one or two of my girlfriends have had it), but maybe it’s a relief to know as well. Best of luck in getting well and solving AGA. Thanks for finding my blog.


  3. Hi Marisa,

    I came across your blog when I was searching for Minoxidil users’ experience. I found it so far quite useful. Here I would like to share my story with you and see if you have any opinion on that?

    I am a 26 year old now and I used to have lots of hair until I started loosing some in my early 20’s. The amount that I lost was normal according to doctors. Some times it happened that I had mild dandruff but it was gone in few weeks by use of selenium sulfide shampoo.

    About 10 months ago I had some dandruff again and I was prescribed Ketoconazol shampoo by my G.P. I used it for about 1.5 months and my dandruff was declined. Few weeks after stopping the shampoo I noticed lots of hair loss (more than 150 per day). My G.P said it can be side effect of Ketoconazol and she referred me to dermatologist in hospital (Amsterdam). I have been prescribed Topicort lotion by dermatologist (used it for a week every night, rinsed in the morning; then twice per week). It did not help that much in loosing hair but more in decreasing the itchiness.
    During these periods I was very stressed out and quite depressed. I am still quite depressed but not as bad as before.

    In meantime, all my blood test results were satisfying. I even did some hormonal tests (body temperature, hormone levels in my blood and ovary ultra-sound). The test results were all normal an in range. But since I have some some acne on my back and some thick hair on my chin, the gynecologist thinks my hormone receptors are too sensitive. So I can decide myself if I want to take some hormonal medication that would be purely for cosmetic purposes(Diane 35 .etc). I am quite afraid of doing that since I know in many cases once you stop with the medication all the problems can come back even worse than before. Therefore I am more in favor of natural remedies such as isoflavones (soy tablets). I am also controlling my dandruff with apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil shampoo that has worked better that medicines so far I have got from the doctors here.

    I still have some hair loss, up to 100 per day. My hair is less that half in volume compare to a year ago. This makes me very frustrated and depressed and I have very little hope that my hair grows back. Although I am a successful person in other aspects of my life, this problem is affecting me adversely.

    By my next visit to the dermatologist, he is gonna prescribe Minoxidil as the last option. I am quite doubtful about if after reading stories with stopping it and side effects.

    sorry for my long story…


    1. Hi! Thank you for visiting! I have mixed thoughts on minoxidil. Here they are: Everybody’s hair solutions are personal and different. But my last blog post states that I am so relieved to quit using it. Minoxidil made me depressed and I gained weight. Minoxidil caused facial hair. Now I take Hair Repair by Whole Body Research, Fem Rebalance which has seemed to help a lot, and use topical Surface Awaken (try ebay or amazon). This helps as much I think as minoxidil ever did. Maybe more. It’s more expensive but it helps. I get microlinks when I’m not wearing hair. These are my coping mechanisms and what I enjoy right now. Nothing is as amazing as having your own healthy hair. I really want science to come out with a sure solution soon.


      1. Hi Marisa,
        I know a scientist that came up with an all natural answer. It’s my mother-in-law. Would be happy to chat “off-blog”. Please feel free to contact me, I’d like to help.


      2. David can you possibly email the details to me? I’m at my wits end with what to do about my hair…the minodoxil has made me depressed, overweight with black rings under my eyes, but i don’t want to lose hair again. Please help


      3. I have recently been diagnosed with AGA and rogaine was recommended. I feel my hair is already so think I cannot afford a “dread shed” without it being terribly obvious. Did you experience any additional shedding / thinning when starting minoxidil? With the 2% or the 5%??


      4. Nope. I never did. I was also using (topically or internally) saw palmetto at the same time. I think this really helps. My favorite minoxidil product is Lipogaine, hands down (check amazon). The synergistic ingredients in it make it far superior to minoxidil alone. Maybe that’s why I didn’t shed. I really hope it goes well for you!


      5. Thanks Marisa, I am very nervous and scared to even start it. I actually have the womens and the mens Lipogaine sitting in my cupboard. I also already take internal saw palmetto and also alternate surface awaken with an alterna root stimulator. After a year of doing those things and seeing a decline, I feel I have to give the minoxidil a try to know for myself. Such horror stories all over the internet though! Did you apply all over the top of your head?


      6. So what I meant was that using both together might have been the reason I didn’t experience shed. I NEVER experienced shed, but I know everyone is different. I don’t think saw palmetto on its own is as effective. I pretty much apply to the thinnest places, as it was hard to apply all over. I am off and on with minoxidil because of minor side effects. The biggest (not shedding) was how it affected me emotionally.


      7. I understand that. I tried aldactone and I was a panicked, depressed mess. I am hoping I respond positively to minoxidil and not get that side effect. Or extra shedding!


      8. Hi Marisa I’ve been reading your posts and found them very interesting and informative. The part where you mention amino acids made me want to ask you if you ever thought of protein drinks. I thought protein mixes like whey were only for working out but I found out some have all the amino acids including the 4-5 acids which are the main factors in creating new hair. The names allude me at the moment. But Walmart sells them but just check out the back label and look for ones that have more than just BCAA’s (branch chain amino acid)


      1. Well, I didn’t have the shed of 400 + hairs a day like some women report upon starting it but I did shed more than normal for awhile. My normal is still to much. Still shedding more than I should. My hair is thinner now than when I started rogaine, which is very depressing as it had been holding stable for quite a while. I have noticed the weight gain as well as puffy eyes and darker circles under my eyes too. I too have also been depressed and panicky but I’m not sure how much is due to rogaine itself or to seeing the changes in my hair if that makes sense. It definitely has not been the miracle helper for me. I would have been thrilled to get the results you got! I do have regrowth so I am afraid to stop it. Afraid I will now end up worse off than when I started. Congrats on your pregnancy!


      2. I’m not a huge fan of minoxidal, and in my experience the femme rebalance and surface awaken kept me from losing too much hair going off of minoxidal, and I was much happier. The minoxidal definitely caused panic, depression and anxiety for me.


  4. Hi

    It’s been quite sometime since your last post, Any updates on your hair regime?
    What products are you currently using?
    Is surface awaken therapeutic treatment effective?


  5. Marissa can you possibly provide an update on how you’ve progressed since going off the minodoxidil completely? I’ve been on it for a year and the effects have been really depressing (low mood, weight gain, aged face plus black rings under eyes). Thank you 🙂


    1. As long as I used an herbal substitute, saw palmetto or invati by Aveda, I feel pretty good about my hair (surface awaken is a good one). I mean not as good as minoxidil, but not in despair. I am 8 1/2 months pregnant now so that’s another story completely – not looking forward to the post-partum shed! I’ll let you know how that goes.

      Have you tried surface awaken?


    2. I also REALLY love the supplemenet femme rebalance. It was more helpful for my hair than any of the topical herbal treatments, and my skin, and my mood, and my energy, and my weight…


  6. Hello, is this still an active thread? I desperately need some advice and support. I was diagnosed with female pattern hair loss and also stress-related shedding almost 10 years ago. I was put on 4% minoxodil, once a day. It helped stop me losing as much as I would have done otherwise but the hair at my temples never seemed to grow back. I was being prescribed the treatment by quite an expensive hair loss clinic and I could no longer afford to carry on, so last year I went somewhere cheaper – they offer free 3 monthly consultations as opposed to the other place, which was £150/consultation and they only saw you once a year! The new place seemed like a better deal, but now I realise it’s just a factory-style clinic – one patient in, the other out, very little concern for your individual situation they just get you hooked on their products that you’ll need to keep taking for life (sadly I realise this too late). They increased by dose to 5% and twice a day. I saw loads of new hair shooting through – great I thought, at last, I’d have loads of hair again. But by 3 months later I was so depressed I kept randombly bursting into tears, going for walks by myself just so I could cry with nobody seeing me, lost all lust for life, stopped socialising… I didn’t attribute it to Minoxodil as had no idea depression could be a side effect. I literally felt “well I guess this is what middle age feels like – sad, lonely, depressing, pointless”. (I’m 44 by the way) The good news or so it seemed though was that in terms of my hairloss, it did seem to be working. But by month 9 , all of a sudden I had the worst shed in years, felt like I’d lost everything that had been regrown, and much more. I went back to the clinic and they increased my dose to 5% drops in the morning and 1ml of 10% topical cream at night. That was a month ago. Since then, my mood has plummeted even lower, to the point I keep crying at work, everything seems hopeless, and I am so confused – I don’t even know how bad my hairloss actually is as other people say they can’t notice it but I am completely obsessed – is it the Minoxodil making me depressed and am I imagining it’s worse than it is? Am I making it worse by being stressed & depressed,w hich the Minoxodil is just heightening even further and so causing it to shed more than it would if I were chilled out and happy? I don’t even know anymore, and I have no idea how to get out of this emotional muddle. The other side effects I am experiencing are red puffy and very sore eyes, pressure headaches, constant itching of the scalp and my lips tingle and feel sore. I do not want to be on this stuff for the rest of my life that is for sure!!! But I am terrified of stopping taking the Minoxodil because of the shedding that will come and not knowing what to replace it with going forward. The advice on here re supplements and herbal remedies is really helpful and I will investigate. Thank you. If anyone else has had a particularly bad reaction to Minoxodil I’d love to chat 🙂


    1. Hi Angela, I’d love to chat more. Minoxidil made me very depressed and I think I found better solutions, though not perfect. Hl is a very scary thing to deal with and I still deal with it! I went off the minoxidil and wouldn’t consider going back. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.


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