Vitex, or its more popular name, Chaste Tree or chaste berry, is a wonderful ancient plant ally for the female body, especially regarding reproductive balance, hormonal, and gynecologic conditions – and primarily for those in their childbearing years or entering perimenopause. Vitex agnus-castus grows quite high, 10-20 feet, multi-trunked into the air, adorned with lilac-like blossoms. It’s a relative of the mint family and a native of Asia and the European subcontinent. Today, it still grows wild along the Mediterranean coast.
Fun Fact: This plant is a great way to invite butterflies into your garden.
It was used much throughout Europe throughout the 17th centuries for female issues, and there was folk-medicine belief that it improved fertility, although modern science does prove that out quite yet. But because vitex works to normalize menstrual cycles, and boosts progesterone, it allows for the lengthening of the luteal phase, which for some individuals: can improve chances of conception.
That means that whether a woman was having short cycles (less than 27 days) or long (more than 32) were normalized in the group being given vitex in these studies. Women who were starting with cycles less than 24 days, were brought into the 26-27 day range and women who had cycles as long as 41 days were brought back into the normal span, at 31 days. After three months, the vitex group showed increased mean mid-luteal progesterone; which among women low in progesterone, the increase was highly significant. The placebo group did not show any significant changes in these parameters. No significant side effects were noted.
What is also being indicated in Ccntrolled trial studies have shown Vitex extracts is beneficial for treating PMS, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and even latent hyperprolactinaemia, which occurs due to abnormally high levels of prolactin in the blood, and can be related to tumors of the pituitary gland.
For those of you with PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, this might catch your attention. As another one of ChasteTree’s benefits is as an anti-inflammatory, and as it already implores hormone balance, it has a connection with those master glands: such as – yup: the pituitary, and so aids in hormone repletion.
So many amazing improvements, ladies! So, if you or someone you know is suffering abnormal menstrual, PCOS or fertility issues: take heart and talk to your natural health care team. For more higher quality documentation and research studies, we’ll still have to wait and see.
According to a 2014 study of Japanese women, chaste tree offered successful health support for pre-menopausal women: women 18-44 experiencing PMS received chaste tree berry extract or VAC in a controlled amount once daily for three cycles. Researchers concluded that, “VAC extract improved PMS symptoms in Japanese patients, with no substantial adverse events. It was the first study of its kind in the country.
In another study, vitex was given to 128 women experiencing PMS symptoms: “All patients answered to a self-assessment questionnaire about their headache, anger, irritability, depression, breast fullness and bloating and tympani during the premenstrual period before the study. Forty drops of Vitex Agnus extract or matching placebo, administered for 6 days before menses for 6 consecutive cycles.” Similar to the Japanese study, researchers concluded Vitex Agnus to be considered “an effective and well-tolerated treatment for the relief of symptoms of mild and moderate PMS.”
Contraindications: Chaste Tree or Vitex is NOT safe to take internally if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Though, it has been shown to be topically helpful for yeast infections. It’s also not recommended for post or late menopausal women; better to try ashwaganda (link) in these stages.