Sunday, March 8, 2009


I have had a comment about Vitex. I have not heard of it, so my research bone became activated. Here is what I have learned.

Vitex has been used in Mediterranean countries for years to help women with a wide range of female issues. Vitex agnus-castus L., commonly known as chaste tree, is native to West Asia and southwestern Europe. The small round fruits (seeds) have a pungent scent and flavor reminiscent of black pepper.

In 1938, a German researcher, Gerhard Madaus, was the first to initiate use of chaste tree in the twentieth century. Recognizing the long value of the plant in gynecological disorders, he designed a series of animal experiment to determine which part of the plant had the greatest biological activity. Madaus found that extracts of the leaves, fruits, and bark retarded estrus (heat) in female rats, without evidence of adverse effects on reproductive performance. The fruits had the greatest activity." Steven Foster

"Chaste tree berry acts on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands by increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) production and mildly inhibiting the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The result is a shift in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, in favor of progesterone. The ability of chaste tree berry to raise progesterone levels in the body is an indirect effect, so the herb itself is not a hormone. " Natural Health Solutions

"Vitex does not actually contain hormones. It appears to increase progesterone by stimulating the release of a hormone called luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland. Vitex is also thought to normalize excessive prolactin levels and promote fertility.

  • Female infertility
  • PMS, especially breast tenderness, cramping, and headaches
  • Acne, especially if it is related to the menstrual cycle
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • Heavy menstruation
  • Menopausal symptoms"

There are some side effects with this herb.

"More common side effects include mild digestive upset or skin rash. Other side effects may include rapid heartbeat, hair loss, headache, dry mouth, nausea, rash, itching and bleeding between periods.

Vitex is not recommended during pregnancy. It shouldn't be used by nursing women unless under the guidance of a qualified health professional.

People with hormone dependent conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, ovaries, uterus or prostate shouldn't take vitex.

Small amounts of vitex could increase the production of breast milk in post-partum women. High doses may have the opposite effect and decrease the production of breast milk.

Vitex may affect levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. People with Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, or any other condition in which dopamine levels are affected should avoid vitex unless under the supervision of a qualified health professional."

"Interactions with dopamine agonists (potential/theoretical). An in-vitro study reported that chasteberry constituents had dopaminergic activity that may alter the effects of these medications and possibly the dose needed for treatment: selegeline, amantadine, carbidopa, levadopa, pramipexole, ropinirole, bromocriptine, pergolide. If you are taking any of these medication, it's a good idea to consult with your physician before taking vitex. " Natural Health Solutions

Seek guidance from a licensed naturopathic physician, who would have extensive knowledge of herbs and botanical medicines. Vitex or chaste berry is very safe ad can be taken daily for up to 18 continuous months, unless pregnancy occurs. It is usually taken in the morning as a single daily dose.

As a general guideline, your daily dose could be:
60 drops of Vitex tincture, standardized to contain 6% agusides.
175 mg. or more of standardized Vitex extract, standardized to contain 6% agusides.

You can also take a blend which includes Vitex like Fertilaid for Women to help you balance your hormones and induce ovulation.

I hope this helps answer any of your questions. Good luck to you all.

Natural Health Solutions for PCOS
Steven Foster Group