Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) – also called Chaste Tree, or Chaste berry – contains several different constituents, including flavonoids, iridoid glycosides, and terpenoids. It has a long history of use in herbal medicine, and is primarily used today to alleviate premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Vitex has outperformed placebo in numerous trials, and is known as nature’s hormonal balancer. While it doesn’t appear to contain any active hormones itself, vitex acts on the hormones via its effect on the pituitary gland (and specifically on the production of luteinizing hormone, or LH). Vitex also keeps prolactin secretion in check (more on that below) and improves both estrogen and progesterone levels.
Vitex has been shown to help balance of estrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle and may alleviate PMS symptoms.
Vitex has been shown to improve fertility, particularly for women with luteal phase defect, it should be discontinued once a woman becomes pregnant.
Agnus castus has been shown in some studies to reduce breast tenderness.
Some older, preliminary research suggests that vitex might help clear premenstrual acne, possibly by regulating hormonal influences.
In herbal medicine, vitex, also known as chaste tree, is sometimes used to treat amenorrhea. Research suggests it may regulate hormones related to menstruation and fertility.
Vitex agnus castus is one of the best-recognized herbs in Europe for promoting lactation. It should not be used during pregnancy.
Clinical reports from Germany have suggested that vitex may help relieve different menstrual abnormalities associated with premenstrual syndrome, including dysmenorrhea.
Vitex is recommended either alone or in combination with other herbs, such as dandelion root, prickly ash, and motherwort, by some doctors to treat endometriosis symptoms.
Among women taking vitex, menorrhagia has reportedly improved after taking the herb for several months.
Vitex is one of the best recognized herbs in Europe for promoting lactation. One trial found that vitex tincture could increase the amount of milk produced by mothers with or without pregnancy complications.