Vitex – the women’s herb

agnus castus - the women's herb

Vitex, also known as Agnus castus or Chasteberry is the main herb I use for restoring hormone imbalance and improving fertility. Vitex agnus castus is a  small shrub with finger-shaped leaves and violet flowers which grows in Mediterranean countries and central Asia. The plant’s berries have traditionally been used for the treatment of women’s reproductive problems.

 

Vitex works to restore hormonal balance by stimulating the proper functioning of the pituitary gland which is the master gland for controlling hormones. In particular Vitex ‘prompts’ the pituitary gland to signal your ovaries to produce more progesterone, therefore increasing the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen and hence balancing excess oestrogen.

 

Vitex also inhibits excessive production of prolactin, (excessive amounts of prolactin can prevent ovulation and monthly periods)

It can be used where there are conditions of hormonal excess or deficiency, i.e. its action is adaptogenic. In particular Vitex is good for:

  • Irregular cycles
  • Heavy periods
  • Painful periods
  • PMS symptoms, especially breast tenderness and  fluid retention
  • Lack of menstruation or scant bleeding
  • Menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes or skin conditions
  • Infertility

Vitex can come in several forms – as a herbal tincture or powdered extract as tablets or capsules. Generally you need to take it for 3-6 months to get the full benefits although some women respond during the first month.

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