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Vitex Agnus Castus

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 Buy a 1-month supply here for just $7

Buy Vitex 800 mg capsules for PCOS hereVitex is one of the most popularly taken herbs for female hormonal and menstrual disorders in Europe

with a solid body of clinical evidence supporting it’s 2500 year history of traditional use.  It has a gentle and effective mechanism of action, working to stimulate the hypothalamus-pituitary axis to secrete the right hormones in the right amounts at the right time to restore hormonal balance naturally.  The timing of hormones released from the pituitary governs menstruation, fertility and other processes.  It is through Vitex’s subtle action on the pituitary gland that it can encourage the restoration of hormonal balance and regulate the female reproductive cycle.

Vitex is very safe and can help to restore menstrual regularity, reduce symptoms of PMS or menopause, hormonal acne, improve the chances of conception and reduce the risk of miscarrying due to progesterone insufficiency.

Most women with PCOS have too much prolactin and too little progesterone, resulting in oestrogen dominance irrespective of whether oestrogen levels are raised or not.  More often than not, when women with PCOS have menstrual cycle irregularities like irregular periods, absent periods or anovulatory cycles, it is due to this hormonal imbalance.  Many menstrual problems, especially in women with PCOS, originate in a deficiency of progesterone in the second half (or luteal phase) of the cycle.  The medical term for this is luteal phase defect.  A luteal phase defect is defined as an insufficient amount of progesterone 3 weeks after the first day of the last menstrual cycle and is a common cause for early miscarriage in women with PCOS.  Vitex agnus castus can help to correct this imbalance and help restore or regulate the menstrual cycle and improve the chances of a pregnancy continuing beyond the 1st trimester.

Vitex is most effective when taken very regularly (like DCI) in a single dose every morning.  For PCOS a dose of around between 500 – 1000 milligrams per day is appropriate and it may take several months for the effects to become noticeable.  Vitex is an exceptionally safe herb, with very few reported side effects.  In a study of 1571 women taking an alcoholic extract of Vitex only 30 reported any problems, 12 being nausea, gastric distress or diarrhoea and 1 being an allergic reaction.  As anyone who has taken liquid herbal extracts can attest, an aversion to the taste is very common!

One study noted that Vitex had been taken for 9 years by some participants with no ill-effects, though more commonly it is prescribed for 6 months at a time with some time off in between cycles to ascertain whether the body has re-established a natural rhythm.

A clinical study of nearly 2500 women taking vitex extract found it reduces symptoms of PMS such as headaches, breast tenderness, bloating, fatigue, cravings for sweets, feelings of anxiety, irritability, depression and mood swings in as little as one month of treatment.  One third of the participants reported that their PMS symptoms disappeared completely.  More than half reported a significant improvement.

Another study of 117 women with 4 different types of acne found that after only 6 weeks of treatment with a vitex extract the acne began to visibly improve and by 12 weeks 70% were completely free of acne.

Vitex agnus castus is thought to act on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands by increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) production and slightly inhibiting the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).  This increases the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen which is very beneficial to women with PCOS as progesterone is almost always low in women with PCOS.  Reducing elevated prolactin levels may help to overcome head hair loss, as high prolactin levels can contribute to  hair loss.

Vitex agnus castus, also sometimes called Monk’s Pepper, Chaste Tree or Chasteberry, has a very long history of use as a medicinal herb and a rich tradition of folk use, especially within the Ancient Greek traditional festivals.  It is an attractive, purple flowered shrub, belonging in the verbena family. The flowers have a faint citrus-like smell and can be used to make perfume.  After the leaves have fallen off in autumn, the pea-sized dried berries can be collected for use as food or medicine.  It is native to Southern Europe the Mediterranean and Western Asia.

2500 years ago, as far back as the time of Hippocrates both men and women used it to diminish sexual desire.  This practice continued into the Middle Ages where monks regularly seasoned their food with ground vitex berries in the hope it would help them to keep chaste.  In Ancient Persia, vitex was popular for it’s mental health benefits.  Physicians in the time of Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) would prescribe vitex to help expel the placenta after childbirth, treat inflammation of the uterus and enlargement of the spleen.  Hippocrates wrote of using Vitex to stem uterine bleeding “If blood flows from the womb, let the woman drink dark wine in which the leaves of the chaste tree have been steeped.”  Other well-known historical figures also wrote of the benefits of vitex including Pliny, Dioscorides & Theophrastus.

During World War II, interest in Vitex was renewed as women giving birth in Germany under the incredible stress and pressure of the time were not producing sufficient milk for their babies.  In 1938, Gerhard Madaus designed and carried out a series of animal experiments to determine the most potent part of the plant, which it turned out was the fruit or berries.  Vitex leaves, bark & berries would retard oestrus in female rats without damaging their reproductive ability.   In 1941, 42 & 43 German medical practitioners published papers confirming the ability of Vitex to stimulate the production of breast milk in mothers with stress-induced milk suppression.  After the war, in the 1950′s further research added to the growing body of clinical evidence.

In modern times, Vitex is used to treat menstrual cycle irregularities, especially luteal phase insufficiency, ovarian insufficiency, uterine bleeding, mastalgia, teenage acne, acne associated with PCOS, menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mild hyperprolactinaemia and premenstrual tension.  It is also employed to reduce excessive menstrual bleeding, reduce the bleeding from uterine fibroids, reduce the recurrence of fibroids and to reduce the symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome through promoting the return of a normal hormonal cycle and therefore menstruation.  A short course of Vitex can also be used to stimulate the production of breast milk in new mothers when the milk flow is insufficient.

The German Commission E monograph on Vitex recommends it for use in menstrual irregularity, dysmenorrhoea, PMS & mastalgia (breast tenderness).  A standardised extract of vitex has been available and readily prescribed in Germany since the 1950′s.

The effect of vitex depends upon the dose.  At lower dosages vitex inhibits the activation of dopamine 2 receptors by competitive binding, which results in a slight increase in the release of prolactin.  At higher dosages, the effect is reversed as there is sufficient competitive binding to the dopamine 2 receptors to decrease levels of prolactin.

Vitex will not, however, address the cause of the hormonal imbalances seen in PCOS.  The scientific concensus to date is that insulin resistance is the cause of hormonal imbalance in PCOS and is generally due to a functional deficiency in d-chiro inositol inositol phosphoglycan.  Women with PCOS have had great success in supplementing with d-chiro inositol to address this deficiency.  You can read more about DCI here:

Buy Vitex Agnus Castus for PCOS

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Buy Vitex Agnus Castus 800 mg capsules  for PCOS here

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More Information:

Azadbakht M., Baheddini A., Shorideh S.M., Naserzadeh A.  Effect of Vitex agnus – Castus L. leaf and fruit flavonoidal extracts on serum prolactin concentration Journal of Medicinal Plants 2005 4:16 (56-61)

Berger, D; Schaffner W, Schrader E, Meier B, Brattström A (November 2000). “Efficacy of Vitex agnus castus L. extract Ze 440 in patients with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)”. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 264 (3): 150–3. DOI:10.1007/s00404000012311129515

Bleier, VW, Therapie von zyklus-und blutungsstrorungen und weiteren endokrin bedingten erkrankungen der frau mit pflanzlichen wirkstoffen, Zbl Gynakologie, 1959, 18:701-9

Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 108.

Böhnert, K.-J. and G. Hahn. Phytotherapy in Gynecology and Obstetrics – Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste Tree). Acta Medica Emperica. 1990, 9:494-502.

Brown, D. Vitex agnus-castus Clinical Monograph. Quarterly Review of Natural Medicine 1994 (Summer):111-121.

Carmichael, A.; Carmichael, (2008). “Can Vitex Agnus Castus be Used for the Treatment of Mastalgia? What is the Current Evidence?”. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM 5 (3): 247–250. DOI:10.1093/ecam/nem074. 18830450

Coeugniet, E., E. Elek and R. Kühnast. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and its Treatment. Ärztezeitschr. für Naturheilverf. 1986, 27(9):619-622.

Daniele, C.; Thompson Coon J, Pittler MH, Ernst E. (2005). “Vitex agnus castus: a systematic review of adverse events”. Drug Safety 28 (4): 319–32. DOI:10.2165/00002018-200528040-0000415783241

Duncan, A. The Edinburgh New Dispensatory. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: C. Elliot and T. Kay, 1789.

Feldmann, H. U., et al. The Treatment of Corpus Luteum Insufficiency and Premenstrual Syndrome: Experience in a Multicentre Study under Practice Conditions. Hgyne 1990, 11(12):421.

Foster, S. Herbs for Your Health. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press, 1996.

Gerarde, J.. The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes. 1633 (revised and enlarged by Thomas Johnson) Reprint. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1975.

Giss, G et al, Phytotherapeutische behandlung der akne, Haut-und Gesch, 1968, 43:645

He Z, Chen R, Zhou Y, Geng L, Zhang Z, Chen S, Yao Y, Lu J, Lin S. Treatment for premenstrual syndrome with Vitex agnus castus: A prospective, randomized, multi-center placebo controlled study in China. Maturitas. 2009 May 20;63(1):99-103. Epub 2009 Mar 9.

Jones, W. H. S. Pliny Natural History with an English Translation in Ten Volumes. Vol. VII. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966.

C. H. Lauritzen, et al. Treatment of Premenstrual Tension Syndrome with Vitex agnus-castus – Controlled, double-blind Study Versus Pyridoxine. Phytomedicine, 1997 4(3):183-189.

Loch, E. Bohnert K.J. Peeters M, et al. “The treatment of menstrual disorders with Vitex agnus-castus tincture.” Der Frauenarzt. 1991. 32(8): pp.867-70.

Loch, EG [Gynaecology in practice - A sure choice of therapy], Tjherapiewoche, 1993, 43(48):2577-80

Loch, E, et al, [Diagnosis and treatment of dyshormonal menstrual periods in the general practice], Gynakol Praxis, 1990, 14(3):489-95

Milewicz A, et al, [Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinaemia. Results of a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study], Arzniem-Forschung, 1993, 43(II-7):752-6

Propping, D et al, [Treatment of corpus luteum insufficiency], Zeitscchrift Fur Allgemein, 1987, 63:932-3

Roeder, D, [Therapy of cyclical disorders with vitex agnus castus], Zeiterschrift fur Phytotherapie, 1994, 15(3):157-63

Schellenberg, R. (20 January 2001). “Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study”. British Medical Journal 322 (7279): 134–7. DOI:10.1136/bmj.322.7279.134.

Schilcher, H.. Phytotherapy and Classical Medicine. Journal of Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants 1994, 2(3):71-80.

Thorton, R. J.. A Family Herbal. London: B.&B. Crosby and Co., 1814.

Tyler, V. E. Herbs of Choice – The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals, Binghamton, New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994.

van Die MD, Burger HG, Teede HJ, Bone KM.  Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste-Tree/Berry) in the treatment of menopause-related complaints. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):853-62

Westphal LM, Polan ML, Trant AS. Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Fertilityblend: a nutritional supplement for improving fertility in women.  Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol. 2006; 33 (4):205-8.

Wuttke, W; Jarry H, Christoffel V, Spengler B, Seidlová-Wuttke D. (May 2003). “Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)–pharmacology and clinical indications”. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 10 (4): 348–57. 12809367

http://www.herbmed.org/Herbs/Herb135.htm

Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste-Tree/Berry) in the treatment of menopause-related complaints.

van Die MD, Burger HG, Teede HJ, Bone KM.

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21 comments to Vitex Agnus Castus

  • Lo

    Hi,

    I have bought vitex for my pcos-but I’m wondering would I just take it in luteal phase or throughout the month-1,000mg. Any feedback would be appreciated. Just got my bloods back and my prolactin is through the roof along with high testosterone. Considering DCI but is it a natural product or a pharma. Is ther a herb that could act like dci?
    So lovely to have this site-glad I’m not alone.

    Thanks All
    Lo

  • My PCOS Info

    Hi Lo,

    Vitex needs to be taken consistently for several months to have the desired effect on the hormonal cycle, not just during the latter half of the cycle.

    DCI is a naturally occurring substance, produced by healthy people, but apparently not, or inadequately in those with PCOS, insulin resistance, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

    Please read the links on DCI – every woman with PCOS should know about DCI and have an understanding of how it works and its role in PCOS.

    No herb has an action like DCI, because DCI is a nutrient, the deficiency in which causes the symptoms of PCOS.

    I’m glad you’ve found the site helpful. You can subscribe to updates using the button in the top right hand corner if you like.

    If you have any more questions, please let me know. I’m here to help.

    Best wishes, Anne

  • bridget

    Can Vitex and DCI be taken together? I am currently taking vitex, but was thinking of taking DCI too, but I just read somewhere that dci has clomid like properties and vitex shouldn’t be used with clomid

  • My PCOS Info

    Hi Bridget,

    Yes, it is fine to take DCI and vitex together. In fact, they work very well together. DCI addresses the root cause of the hormonal imbalance in PCOS (insulin resistance due to functional DCI-deficiency) and the Vitex provides a little extra support by helping normalise the hormones directly. DCI is in no way similar to Clomid.

    DCI is a nutrient which can be derived from foods like soy lecithin, carob, chickpeas etc and which can be naturally manufactured in a healthy human body from myo-inositol. Women with PCOS and people with insulin resistance or type II diabetes appear to have a defect in the metabolism of this nutrient, resulting in a deficiency which in turn causes problems metabolising carbohydrates.

    Clomid (clomiphene citrate) is a drug which increases the body’s production of gonadotrophins like follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) & luteinising hormone (LH) through inhibiting oestrogen receptors in the hypothalamus, which in turn inhibits negative feedback.

    You might also be interested in the page: Is it OK to take Vitex and Clomid together?

    If you have any more questions, please let me know. I’m here to help.

    Best wishes,

    Anne

  • Bridget

    You are so awesome. There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there on the World Wide Web. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly!

  • My PCOS Info

    Bridget, you are so very welcome. If there’s anything else I can help you with, just let me know. The difficulty in obtaining reliable and helpful information about PCOS was the reason I started this website. Best wishes, Anne

  • lina

    hello ,
    i have pcod problem since 3yrs and iam not on medication.iam 29yrs old .trying to conceieve but no positive results gone through several tests all came normal.and what Doctor told me is not able to produce eggs then used clomid still not conceieved dont know where is the problem.every thing is good but recently from past 5months started continious spotting or heavy bleeding …….so can i take vitex ?will it give me positive result ?

  • My PCOS Info

    Hi Lina,

    I’m sorry for the delay in writing back to you. PCOS can cause a lot of problems if it is not treated and infertility is one of the most concerning to a lot of women.

    Vitex is often very helpful for normalising periods and improving conception rates in women with PCOS, but it won’t treat the cause of the problem. I suggest that you look in to d-chiro inositol as this will address the cause of your hormones being out of balance.

    Vitex and DCI are often taken together as they work well together. DCI treats the cause of the hormonal imbalance whilst Vitex gives your hormones an extra push at getting back into line.

    If you have any more questions, please let me know. I’m here to help.

    Anne

  • lina

    hello anne,
    Thanks for the reply.Recently I had hormonal tests all came normal but only vitamin d3 defiency have. So Iam taking those VIT D tablets .So iam planing to take fertile aid becoz it also contains vitex .My question is does Fertilaid really help me to conceive as it got multivitamin as well as some herbs[vitex,paba etc].

  • My PCOS Info

    Hi Lina,

    You are most welcome. In my opinion Fertilaid is just a fairly basic prenatal multivitamin. It has some useful herbs in it, but not in concentrations that would be able to cause any significant benefit. There are better and cheaper multivitamins and prenatal vitamins available and if you have PCOS, I believe that a more appropriate course of action would be to address that specifically, rather than taking a generic ‘fertility’ supplement.

    A study published last year recommended that d-chiro inositol and myo-inositol be the first line of treatment for women with PCOS due to it’s excellent track record in improving the biochemical markers of the syndrome, reducing symptoms and improving fertility outcomes. You might also look in N-Acetyl Cysteine as it has similarly been found in studies to be “as effective as metformin” in treating PCOS.

    Vitamin D deficiency occurs in around 80% of women with PCOS, so restoring your levels back to within the optimal range is an excellent first step. Please ensure that you have your vitamin D levels checked regularly so that your vitamin D dose can be titrated accordingly. Some women need only 1,000 IU per day to regain a normal vitamin D status, others as much as 10,000 IU per day.

    If you have any more questions or would like copies of the studies on DCI and PCOS to read yourself or to discuss with your doctor just let me know.

    Kind regards,

    Anne

  • Linda

    Can vitex be taken with birth control pills?

  • My PCOS Info

    There is no contraindication between Vitex and oral contraceptive pills, however, the levels of the hormones in the birth control pills are so immensely high, I think the effect of the Vitex would be completely overwhelmed by the effect of the birth control pills.

  • Jill

    I am 25 yrs old and i have PCOS. I tried clomid to conceive but no effect. I read a lot about this vitex so i decided to try. I just bought Vitex(Natures Answer brand) yesterday. Well it says that each pill is 40mg only and that seems so low. Plus it says I should only take once a day. I read a lot of forums saying they take 1600mg for their PCOS!!WOW what a difference!! So my question is: Am I truly taking the right dosage? Should I go get something different? I have already opened this so I am stuck with it.

  • My PCOS Info

    Hi Jill,

    Thank you for your comment. I’ve just looked up the brand of Vitex you mentioned and it does appear to genuinely be only 40 mg. I’m baffled, that is a very low dose. In general, women with PCOS do respond better to lower doses of Vitex, but around the 800-1000 mg per day range. Not 40 mg! I looked up the brand because I suspected that the 40 mg may be in reference to the standardised component of agnusides. Standardised vitex preparations usually contain between 0.5% and 0.8% agnusides, but at 0.5% that would be only 4 mg agnusides in an 800 mg tablet/capsule.

    I am not familiar with the brand of Vitex and have only looked it up online, however, from the information I can find, it would appear that the dosage is ineffectually miniscule and you would be better off with another brand.

    Many women with PCOS find that their fertility improves significantly with d-chiro inositol, have you looked into that? There have also been some studies which found that N-acetylcysteine or NAC improved fertility outcomes in women who were Clomid resistant.

    Good luck!

  • abbey

    im 24 years old i ttc for 2 years but diagnosed with pcos i read lot of about vitex i started to take it from last month.my question is that my doctor prescribe metformin for me..can i take vitex and metformin together?or should i leave vitex just to see the effect of mertformin.??

  • My PCOS Info

    Hi Abbey,

    There are no contraindications between Vitex and metformin, so it is fine to take both at the same time, in fact, many women with PCOS do. The Vitex will provide a little extra push to your reproductive hormones to help them regulate again, while metformin hopefully will address the reason they are out of balance in the first place: insulin resistance which leads to elevated testosterone levels and dysregulation of the female reproductive hormonal rhythm. Many women with PCOS prefer to take d-chiro inositol (DCI) instead of metformin, as it is a natural secondary insulin messenger without the side effects that occur with metformin. In fact, a study last year recommended that d-chiro inositol and myo-inositol be the first line treatment for women with PCOS. DCI also vastly improves fertility outcomes for women with PCOS.

  • Sarah

    Hi there,

    I was just wondering can you take Vitex, DCI & myo-inositol all together or would you recommend just using DCI & myo-inositol?

    thanks!

  • My PCOS Info

    Yes, you certainly can. They all work quite well together.

  • emmad

    Hi I was wondering if you could help. I’ve been taking 2000mg of angus castus fora month started dduring af. After af had come and gone I was fine however after a week I started bleeding almost as if another af had arrived and still 14 days later bleeding. Is this normal or do you recommend I stop or cut down to 1000mg. Ive been trying to convince for 13months with no joy. Im also taking folic acid and primrose oil.

  • My PCOS Info

    Hi Emma,

    Intermenstrual bleeding is not a known side effect of taking Vitex, however, the dose you are taking is far too high for PCOS, if that is why you are taking it. Please read the article in detail as it explains how Vitex works and why, for women with PCOS, a lower dose is more effective. If you have PCOS, please look into d-chiro inositol.

    Good luck!

  • TGTG

    Hello there your website is great and very informative as am helping my sister with pcos issues. but to Emmad whose been taking vitex during af, your not meant to take vitex during af as it can cause prolonged bleeding. Good luck ….

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