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 luteinizing hormone (LH), which in turn increases progesterone.

Lengthens a short luteal phase: Studies have shown Vitex to be effective 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.

Most hormone related issues that disappear once pregnancy begins and then return after breastfeeding ends can be supported by the use of Vitex.

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 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 an 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 may 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 contraceptives (birth control), due to limited research, Vitex should not be used in conjunction with prescription medications that contain hormones 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 has 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 use. 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 rats given none.

German research shows Vitex can be taken safely through the end of the third month of pregnancy and may help prevent miscarriage. Vitex is still considered safe to take after the third month, but it is thought that it may stimulate lactation too early, so for this reason it is suggested to not continue after the third month of pregnancy. Also, during the third month of pregnancy the placenta takes over progesterone production, so Vitex most likely won’t be needed.

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


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. I find that it works best when used all month long and taken as one dose in the morning on an empty stomach.

– Hobbs, Christopher, L.Ac. (2003). Vitex, The Women’s Herb. Summertown, Tennessee: Healthy Living Publications.
– Romm, Aviva. (2010). Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. St. Louis Missouri: Churchill Livingstone.
– Mills, Simon; Bone, Kerry. (2005). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. pp. 333-36. St. Louis, Missouri: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier
– Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. (Eds.). (2013). American Herbal Products Association’s botanical safety handbook (2nd ed., pp. 930-931). Vitex agnus-castus L. Boca Raton, Florida: American Herbal Products Association, CRC Press.


Let your voice be heard... Leave a brief comment or question related to this article.

Current day month [email protected] *

 characters available

  1. I have been taking Agnus Castus for a month. I came off BC 14 months ago and didn’t have a period for 6 months, after which they have been irregular varying between 30-61 days. Last 3 cycles were 39, 37 & 38 days, which suggests they are regularising. Ovulation sticks last month showed I got an LH surge 13 days before period arrives which seems “normal”. But my follicular phase is too long which is frustrating when trying to conceive as we have to wait so long for my next ovulation. I’m hoping Vitex will help to shorten them next month, but is it safe to take after ov? I’ve read mixed things – some suggesting not to take after ov in case of conception as its unsafe but others saying its fine

    • Hi Natalie,

      Yes, Vitex agnus-castus is fine to take all month long. It works best when taken all month long. I hope it works for you. It does sound like your cycles are finally regulating! Great news.

  2. I started Vitex mid-cycle last cycle. I am currently 3 weeks and 4 days pregnant. How do I need to go about weaning off Vitex? My doctor has never heard of it and the advice that I received about weaning off it isn’t reassuring. I take two capsules that contain 225 MG of Chaste Berry extract and 100 MG of Chase Berry. I started taking it to support my short luteal phase.

    • Dear Lynsee,

      Congratulations on your pregnancy! I hope you are feeling well!

      Weaning off of an herb in early pregnancy can be easy! It is as simply as taking less and less each day, over a week’s time. If you are taking herbs in a capsule form, you could open the capsule, dump a little out and then close it back up and then take it. You would do this each day, dumping out a little more each day, until you are no longer taking it.

      It is especially important to seek support from an herbalist or midwife near you if you have experienced recurrent miscarriage and are taking and need to wean of herbs.

  3. I have my period every month and my cycle varies from 31-34 days (I have PCOS and I am taking Metformin). Would it beneficial if I took Vitex? I read mix reviews about Vitex and how you should ONLY take it if you have absent periods. Thanks.

    • Dear Laura,

      Fertilica Vitex has proven to be beneficial for women with menstrual cycle irregularities, anovulation and absent periods. If you are ovulating monthly and your cycle is normal for you, I am not sure Vitex is necessary. It may be best first to focus on a PCOS Diet and supporting healthy insulin levels.

  4. I’ve been taking Vitex for several months to regulate my cycle, reduce cramps, and increase fertility (TTC 2.5 years, unexplained infertility, possible mild endo). My cycle has bounced between 21 and 25 days in the past, but my most recent one was 28 days! Could the lengthening of my cycle a positive sign vis-a-vis fertility?

    • Dear Adele,

      It very well could be! A ‘textbook’ menstrual cycle is 28 days long with menstruation lasting 3-5 days. Textbook is rare, so I like to share that the usual range of a healthy cycle can be anyeher between 21 and 35 days. Experts say a luteal phase that is at least 12-14 days longs is best.

      So glad you have seen these changes!

  5. I am 41 and currently nursing a 20mo old and we have been ttc for 5months. I have a regular cycle and have been told that it would be hard to conceive while nursing. I just started taking vitex and but I am seeing that it helps with lactation but also they say don’t take it while nursing. I am confused. Will it help me conceive?

  6. I’m 31 and was on BC (depo and pills) for about 10 years. I stopped the pills in June of last year and that was my last period until my OB prescribed Provera which brought my period in February. My SO and I decided to TTC and was prescribed Clomid because of my PCOS diagnosis. I took 50mg for CD 3-7 in February and according to my temps I did not ovulate. My period never showed back up so my OB had me take 100mg of Clomid on CD 34-38. I am currently on CD 51. I have an appt with my OB on 4/11 to discuss our next step. I was thinking of taking Vitex with Myo Insitol… Should I take Provera beforehand to start my period? Should I also take Fertility Blend?

    • Dear Celia,

      It is up to you whether you take Provera before trying herbs, nutritional supplements or natural therapies. Know that how Provera brings back menstruation is essentially by tricking the body into action. Provera isn’t addressing the underlying hormonal imbalance that is causing PCOS and absent menstruation (which can be linked to PCOS).

      While Vitex and MyoInositol may be helpful, we feel it best to focus on a holistic program. The goal of our programs is to support the body in re-learning balance and/or supporting balance when fertility issues are present. The great part about herbs, supplements and natural therapies is that they often work wonders in doing this given commitment to dietary and lifestyle change is made as well. Diet is believed to be a key area of focus for women with PCOS.

      Consider learning more about a PCOS Diet and about supporting the body in re-learning balance by promoting healthy hormonal balance, a healthy uterine lining, regular ovulation, improved estrogen metabolism, reduced cravings for sweets and improved digestion (click the PCOS Diet hyperlink just above).

      You will read in that guide about a biphasic herbal blend for women with PCOS and a whole-food preconception multivitamin. We feel both more directly address the hormonal balance needs of women with PCOS than Fertility Blend.

      I hope this is helpful!

  7. Hi…i wanted to know if vitex can be taken along with Clomid (Clomiphene tablets)..thanks!

  8. I just Want To Ask What I Will Do To Increase My Uterin Linning& i can not understand how vitex its good but it decrease level of fsh is it mean its only for woman with high fsh cause my hormon fsh &l h is normal