Vitex… Fertility Super Herb?

Vitex… Fertility Super Herb?

Article Overview

Vitex is a beautiful shrub native to Greece and Italy whose berries have been used in herbal medicine for centuries. It is considered one of the most popular herbs in Europe and other Western nations for the support of gynecological imbalances.

Modern clinical research and traditional use of vitex have shown its amazing ability to help balance fertility hormones. Since vitex does not contain hormones it has a supportive, gentle and non direct action on the body. Vitex is one of the most useful fertility herbs available to us.

How Vitex Works

Our current understanding of vitex is that it has a supporting and regulating effect upon the pituitary gland. The pituitary is known as the “master gland” because it controls many vital bodily functions such as sending chemical signals to the ovaries, telling them how much hormones to make. This communication is known as the hormonal feedback loop.

Vitex has been shown in studies to:

Vitex is one of the best fertility herbs available to us when it comes to balancing hormones and regulating the menstrual cycle.

Inhibit follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): Vitex increases the secretion of luteinising hormone (LH), which in turn increases progesterone.

Lengthens a short luteal phase: Studies have shown vitex to be affective at lengthening the luteal phase. While it does not contain any hormones itself, it does help the body to increase its own production of luteinizing hormone (promoting ovulation to occur) which in turns boosts progesterone levels during the luteal phase of the cycle.

Increased progesterone levels: Vitex has been shown to stimulate the formation of the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum is responsible for the secretion of progesterone. In a study of 45 women, 86% responded positively with normalized or significantly improved progesterone levels.

Reduces advancement of mild endometriosis: Vitex is used in Germany by gynecologists to treat mild endometriosis and prevent it from advancing.

May help prevent miscarriage: Vitex has a beneficial impact on progesterone levels. If miscarriages are due to low progesterone, vitex may help to normalize or increase progesterone levels. Vitex may be considered safe to use during pregnancy, but make sure to consult with a healthcare practitioner when using this herb during pregnancy. Also make sure to read our ‘Use During Pregnancy’ section below.

Relieves PMS: Clinical research has shown that vitex may be very beneficial for PMS symptoms, especially depression, headaches, rashes, acne, allergies and sensitivity of the breasts. In one study improvement of PMS by the first month was experienced by 32% of the women. By the third month 84% of the women experienced improvement of their PMS.

Lack of menstruation (amenorrhea): In a study of 15 women with amenorrhea, 65% had resumed a menstrual cycle by the sixth month of use. Progesterone levels also increased.

Irregular menstruation: Vitex has been shown to help balance both an absent menstrual cycle as well as aid a menstrual cycle that is heavy or too frequent.

Uterine cysts: Vitex has been found to be helpful at reducing cysts that are growing within the smooth muscle layer of the uterus.

Stabilization of menstruation after stopping birth-control pills: After discontinuing estrogen-containing birth control pills, vitex taken for several months has been shown to help stabilize the cycle and induce ovulation more quickly.

Helps stimulate milk production in new mothers: For over 2,000 years vitex has been used to help stimulate mother’s milk. Begin using vitex right after birth and continue for 10 days or more as needed.

Acne: Several studies have shown an improvement in the skin with the use of vitex. Along with appropriate diet changes vitex may help acne.

Vitex can help basically any issues that one experiences that disappear once pregnancy begins and returns after breastfeeding ends.

How to Use Vitex

For optimal results vitex should be taken long-term. Clinical research shows that vitex may start working within 10 days, but full benefits may not be experienced until 6 months or longer. For PMS results are normally seen by the second menstrual cycle. But for lasting changes it may need to be taken for up to a year or more depending on how long the imbalance has been present.

Vitex is making fundamental changes in the delicate chemical chemistry of the body, this is why it takes some time to have an effect. Since vitex is a harmonizing and nourishing herb, it works  behind the scenes to restore balance in a gentle way. Unlike a refined synthetic drug which forces the body to change, vitex works to nourish and support the system bringing about long term balance.

Vitex use & Dosage
Vitex is generally suggested to be taken once a day in the morning on an empty stomach (half an hour before breakfast). If vitex is being used as part of a herbal blend containing other herbs, use as directed on the bottle. Vitex should be used all month long without a break.

  • Capsules: 900-1,000mg a day
  • Tincture: 60-90 drops a day

Which is the best vitex to take?
Vitex comes in many forms, loose herbs, capsules, tea, tincture and powder. We find that capsules and tincture offer the most consistent results since it is easier to control the dosage. Many of the compounds needed from vitex are easily extracted in alcohol (tincture) versus water (tea). Vitex is very strong tasting, almost bitter, so I would not suggest making a tea unless you blend other herbs with it, that is one reason capsules are so convenient.

Does Vitex Work for Everyone?

Vitex generally works for most adult women in their childbearing years (from age 18-perimenopause), but there are some cases where it may have no effect.

Women who have less than ideal lifestyle habits will probably not experience the full effects of vitex. For those who have low energy reserves, weak immune systems, eat mostly processed foods, have been on antibiotics or steroids for a while – changes in diet and lifestyle are necessary prior to beginning the use of vitex. Without making these changes in addition to using vitex, you may not experience results.

Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. Perimenopause typically begins at the age of 40. As perimenopause progresses toward menopause, it is normal for menstrual cycles to become irregular and for hormone levels to fluctuate. As ovarian reserve diminishes and egg health declines, FSH levels may rise. For some women vitex may be helpful in maintaining regular cycles and lowering higher FSH levels, but vitex cannot reverse the aging process. It may or man not be effective for women in perimenopause, each woman is different. Vitex cannot bring back the menstrual cycle in women who have gone through menopause.

Safety & Side Effects

Vitex has been used for over 2,000 years with no significant side-effects reported. Some minor and infrequent side-effects (1-2% of users may experience) have been nausea, gastrointestinal upset, skin reactions, and headache. Women with a history of depression taking vitex for menstrual irregularity may experience an exacerbation of depressive symptoms.

Even though it has been shown to have no interference with oral contraceptive vitex should not be used in conjunction with prescribed progesterone containing medication such as birth control pills in case it may interfere with their activity.

Some women do experience a shift in their cycle when they first begin using vitex. The length of the menstrual cycle may shorten or lengthen temporarily before it finally stabilizes. This is just the body balancing itself out and is completely normal.

Safety ratings

  • German Commission E has approved the use of vitex for menstrual cycle irregularities, premenstrual disturbances, and mastodynia.
  • The Botanical Safety Handbook had categorized vitex as a class 1 herb. Class 1 herbs are herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately.

Vitex use During Pregnancy

It is believed that vitex’s ability to increase progesterone levels has explained the positive results seen by herbalists and midwives who used it to help prevent recurrent miscarriages in women. No studies on humans have been done yet supporting this, only traditional usage. There have been reproductive toxicology studies with female rats where they were given up to 80 times the concentrated used clinically in humans, showing no difference in offspring compared with the rates given none.

According to German research, vitex can be taken safely through the end of the third month of pregnancy and may help prevent miscarriage. It is still considered safe to take after the third month, but may stimulate lactation too early, so for this reason it is suggested to not continue after the third month of pregnancy. Also at month three of pregnancy is the time the placenta takes over progesterone production on its own so vitex most likely won’t be needed anyways.

If you are deciding to use vitex during pregnancy, we suggest you consult with an herbalist or midwife for guidance and supervision.

Summary

Vitex is a fantastic herb for fertility, helping with a range of issues such as PMS, low progesterone, lack of ovulation, irregular menstrual cycles, lack of a menstrual cycle, acne and so much more. Vitex offers many benefits but requires patience and consistency of use. It should be used all month long and taken as one dose in the morning on an empty stomach.

References
1. Hobbs, Christopher. Vitex, The Women’s Herb, page 15, Vitex and Pregnancy. 2003
2. Romm, Aviva. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. 2010

Comments

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[-] 134 Comments
  1. Hi, I am 34 years old woman, I have an ovarian cyst 6cm simple, normal CA125 and HE 4, and have not have periods for 6 months now. I have started the treatment you have suggested: Maca Root, Wobenzym, and DIM. Can I add Vitex to this plan?. my doctor suggested to take the Pill, but i would rather not

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Sona,

      Vitex can be taken with Maca root, Wobenzym N and DIM. It however is not to be combined with medications that have a action on the hormones.

      I wish you well and success on your program!

  2. I have a question?? So i went to my appt and my doctor gave me birth control and then also told me to take this so should i take this and the birth control together or not?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Micah!

      If you are being guided by your healthcare provider in taking BC with Vitex, you could do so. We do not advise doing this on ones own.

      Here’s to balance! Take Care!

  3. I am 45 years and my last period was in october 2013,am not pregnant can vitex be helpful to me?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Rachy!

      Vitex is an herb supportive of fertility in a number of ways, and particularly irregular menstrual cycles. It may in part be supportive of you, but to be honest there may be other factors at play that need to be addressed, like diet and lifestyle.

      It may also help to learn more about absent periods and how you can support a healthy menstrual cycle naturally.

      I hope this is helpful!

  4. In india, how will i get this medicine

  5. After losing my little girl in pregnancy, I’m keeping the faith. I read every article religiously and pray to have perfectly healthy, normal babies. Thank you for all your helpful articles.
    God Bless.

  6. Hello, I am interested I taking vitex for unexplained infertility. My FSH, LH and AMH levels all were tested and came back normal. I also had the uterine saline test and have no issues with cysts or Fallopian tube blockage. My husbands sperm is off the charts good. I will be 35 in a month and we have been trying to conceive for 11 months. Our first month trying I had a chemical pregnancy and then nothing since then. I have a very healthy lifestyle and am looking for ways to boost my fertility and increase my chances. Would vitex help? Or is it overkill given my situation? Thanks

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hi Bridget!

      Vitex is supportive of a number of fertility issues, as well as general hormone balance when needed. If you have read about Vitex and feel it may benefit you, you sure could give it a try. I would need to know more detail about you, your lifestyle and fertility history to know if it is “overkill”.

      If looking for ways to boost fertility, I have just the information! Take time to read the article Top 10 Natural Fertility Boosters”. I think you will enjoy the article!

      Be well!

  7. My friend recommended Vitex to me, as I’m still breastfeeding my daughter but want to get pregnant again. I can quit breastfeeding, as she’s 11 months old, but I would prefer to continue and try to get pregnant, and if it stops my supply, then that’s okay. My friend told me, though, that if I do get pregnant while on Vitex, to wean myself off of it because it could drop my progesterone super fast and I could miscarry. Can you explain this? Vitex helps to increase progesterone levels, correct? I definitely don’t want to take this if it could cause me to miscarry if I became pregnant.

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Kendra!

      Some herbs may elicit a hormone-like effect, or have an action on the hormones in the body. If you have been taking herb(s) and you are still taking it/them in pregnancy, you need to make a plan of how to wean off of that herb slowly, over time, so as to not disrupt the natural hormonal cycle of the pregnancy. Suddenly stopping some herbs in pregnancy may potentially cause a miscarriage due to hormonal disruption.

      A good way to wean off of an herb or herbal blend is to take less and less each day, over a week. You can learn more about weaning off of herbs here…

      Vitex does support proper progesterone levels. Vitex is one of the herbs for some best weaned off of in early pregnancy. There is information about Vitex use During Pregnancy here…

      If you have a history of recurrent miscarriage, this is especially important to seek guidance for weaning off of herbs. Special considerations need to be made whenever there is a history of progesterone deficiency, uterine weakness, recurrent miscarriages, or other health related issues that may affect pregnancy. Seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner, someone to help guide you through this transition.

      I wish you great success in natural conception.

  8. hi.im 37 yrs old.im having high FSH levels for the last 10 years .and due to this i failed to get pregnant.can Vitex help me if i use it and how can iget it in Dublin,Ireland.

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Jennifer!

      Vitex is known to adapt to women’s hormonal needs. It is supportive of so many different fertility issues. Vitex encorages luteinizing hormone (LH) production while mildly inhibiting the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This indirectly boosts progesterone production and chances of achieving and maintaining a successful pregnancy.

      While I know so very little about you and your lifestyle, it is hard for me to say that Vitex alone is all that you need, but it may very well be supportive of you. You are welcome to order Vitex via this link to be shipped to Ireland, or contact our customer care team for assistance in ordering from The Natural Fertility Shop.

  9. hi i have adhesions from previous cesareans that have now made me infertile just wondering if vitex could help me or any other product to get pregnant now

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Jeanette!

      Vitex is supportive of a healthy menstrual cycle (including ease of occasional PMS symptoms), regular ovulation, the body’s natural progesterone levels and normal FSH levels, in addition to it ability to encourage a normal luteal phase (second half of a woman’s cycle), and aid and support the pituitary gland. While it may be supportive there are other tips to Heal and Prevent Uterine Adhesions Naturally offered here…

  10. Ever since my miscarriage in October at 6wks (I think from low progesterone—it measured 1.6 or so about 18 hours after I started bleeding), my periods have been all out of whack. I had one in Jan & April, nothing in between, just started a really light/spotty one this week (finally!) after taking 400 mg Vitex capsules twice a day for the last 4 weeks or so. I don’t know if that’s what’s helped me or not, but I’m trying to get on track to conceive again. I’m 31 and fit—never been overweight, so PCOS doesn’t seem likely. I’m so confused and frustrated! I’d really appreciate any advice or suggestions. I bought some shatavari but it takes weeks to make a tincture- do you have a better idea?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Victoria,

      I am very sorry for your loss and that you are confused and frustrated! There are many links between hormonal imbalances and miscarriages. The hormonal system is an intricate orchestra of hormones that runs on a very specific schedule. If one of these hormones is out of balance it can affect the entire cycle, possibly impacting early pregnancy. It is also important to note that miscarriages due to random genetic defects are natures way of helping to ensure healthy babies. I don’t mean to sound crass at all, but random genetic defects can not be controlled or changed by the parents of the child or medical professionals.

      Were you able to learn what may have led to your miscarriage? Have you had hormone testing post miscarriage to learn if you have any fertility issues that may need to be addressed?

      Vitex is a very supportive herb of female hormone balance. It should be taken long term, as many as 6 months or more and at a dose of 900-100mg per day which is the general suggested use. If you feel Shatavari may be supportive of you, you could purchase it is capsule form to use until your tincture is ready. You can see Shatavari here….

      You may also appreciate learning 5 Steps To Decreasing the Chance of Recurrent Miscarriages.

      I wish you well!

  11. My luteinizing hormone level is high – 24.8 and FSH level is also high – 24.6 Progesterone and estradiol are low everything else is good. Would Vitex be useful in possibly leveling my hormones to possibly conceive easier and would you recommend it to someone 49 years of age, diabetic (orally controlled) and bipolar. Thank you and have a good day!

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Yvonne!

      Vitex works to support female hormone balance overall in women. It does not hone in on one hormone alone, rather supports the balance of them all.

      Vitex generally works for most adult women in their childbearing years (from age 18-perimenopause), but there are some cases where it may have no effect. Learn more under the heading in this article Does Vitex Work for Everyone? It is best to consult your healthcare provider or naturopathic doctor to guide you in properly using herbs with prescription medications as well.

      Take Care!

  12. Hi,
    It took me 16 month to conceive my son, I previously had very irregular cycles and took vitex which helped and I finally fell pregnant. My period s returned when he was 12 months and was regular and I was ovulating and no spotting. Two months ago we decide to try for a second baby and I stopped breastfeeding at 17 months ( had been down to only one feed before bed for a few months) the two cycls since then I have ovulated and then began spotting about two days later that lasts until I get my period. I’m frustrated that my body is now doing this after being so good, I have bought vitex today to try but was wondering what you thought was going on and if vitex would be useful.
    Thanks

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Sj!

      When you completely stop breastfeeding a number of hormonal shifts happen and Vitex is one herb specific to female hormone balance that may be supportive. There also can be any number of reasons for Mid-Cycle Spotting that you might want to learn about. Be patient with your body as it works to find balance!

  13. Can vitex be used with DHEA

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hi Peggy!

      Vitex can be taken with DHEA yes, but I do have to share that we don’t support the use of DHEA without being supervised in doing so by your healthcare provider. It has been found that pure DHEA may convert into the wrong hormones within the body possibly contributing to hormone imbalance. Learn more here if you would like…

  14. What’s the difference between Vitex Menopause and Vitex Fertility?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello LaTanya!

      Vitex, also know as ChasteTree berry, generally works for most adult women in their childbearing years (from age 18-perimenopause), but there are some cases where it may have no effect. Vitex cannot bring back the menstrual cycle in women who have gone through menopause. There is not one Vitex for those who are menopausal and one for those who are fertile and seeking to balance their hormones or support a fertility issue they may have.

      I am sorry if this was not made clear!

  15. Hi. My doctor has said that it is ok for me to stop taking Metformin (used for regulating my periods) and switch to Vitex. I am wondering a few things. I have a period only every 3 months when I am not on metformin. can I expect this to come back as the vitex builds up in my system?

    • Hi Kristin,

      To be honest there is no way for me to know for sure if Vitex will regulate your cycle or not. It is great your doctor is okay with you trying natural alternatives. I can let you know that in my experience with this herb, Vitex is an herb that requires patience and consistent use to be effective. It can take many months to achieve desired results, of which may be a regular cycle and regular ovulation. Typically vitex really starts being truly effective between month 6-8 of use and may be used long term, for around 18 months before needing to take a break, to see how the body is functioning on its own, without the vitex.

      I hope this answers your question!

  16. I am almost 35 in September to be exact. Ive had 2 miscarriage in a time frame of 2 years and been ttc for a year almost. My FSH in May was 18.3 and in july 13. Will Vitex help me conceive and lower my fsh?
    Testing was done in May on the second day of cycle and came to 18 fsh and again this month second day of cycle result 13fsh.

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hello Maria!

      In general, for menstruating women, the normal follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels during the follicular or luteal phase should range between 5 and 20 IU/L (international units per liter). However, many doctors believe a FSH level higher than 10-15mIU/ml may indicate diminished fertility or diminished ovarian reserve.

      Vitex supports hormone balance by encoraging luteinizing hormone production while mildly inhibiting the release of FSH. This indirectly boosts progesterone production and chances of achieving and maintaining a successful pregnancy.

      It may be an herb to consider. You might also take time to learn more about FSH Levels and Your Fertility here…

      Best Wishes!