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 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 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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[-] 329 Comments
  1. Can I use Maca, Vitex and Royal Jelly together? Also is it ok to use these herbs if you have fibroids. I am also wondering if Systemic Enzymes can work for multiple calcified fibroids. Thank you.

    • Dear Hannefat,

      Fertilica Maca, Vitex and Royal Jelly can be taken together and can all be taken with Systemic Enzyme Therapy. Each has a variety of fertility health benefits, some of which include naturally supporting hormone balance, libido, the body’s nutrient levels and natural inflammation response and endocrine system health.

      Consider learning more about each, in addition to natural ways to support a healthy uterine environment as you design a natural fertility program for your specific needs.

  2. Hello, thank you for the useful information. I am wondering if Vitex is safe to take if you have Hashimato’s and taking synthyroid for hypothryoidism.

  3. Hi there! I have elevated prolactin of 869 and have been so far unable to conceive my second child. Would Vitex work well to lower prolactin? Thank you for your reply in advance, regards

  4. Hi! Can you please tell where I can get this product and the best brand? Thanks!

    • Dear Tee,

      Fertilica Vitex can be ordered from the Natural Fertility Shop. We feel the Fertilica brand is the best! Fertilica products are of superior quality, produced in small batches to ensure this quality, of highest potency and all natural and many are organic. The Fertilica line works with the body to provide a wide range of benefits, with a key focus on holistic wellness, to help improve the body’s nutrition levels, hormone balance, and reproductive organ function.

  5. I just started taking Vitex, after reading the info above I noticed the bottle I have says they are only 40mg and it says to take 1 a day. I’m guessing I need to buy a bottle with higher mg in the capsules?
    Also, I am not pregnant but would like to start trying. I have been taking prenatal vitamins for a while now. Is Vitex okay to take with prenatal vitamins?

    • Dear Alannah,

      While it is best to follow the usage guidelines of the manufacturer of any product, general suggested use of Fertilica Vitex is 900-1000mg per day… 40mg may not be near enough for Vitex to be as effective for you as it can be. This being said, I can not know for sure given I don’t know the product you purchased and have been taking. Fertilica Vitex can be taken with a prenatal multivitamin.

      Take care!

  6. Hi!
    I recently have been experiencing VERY tender breasts along with milk secretions (I stopped breastfeeding a year ago) and have been having hot flashes the last few months. I finally went to the doctor and she tested my FSH levels and they came back super low (.3). I am going to go back in to have my prolatin levels checked. I am wondering if VItex would help my FSH levels normalize? Also, I am taking birth control and wonder if that has any affect? Ive been having normal periods, but that could be because of the birth control….Thank you!

    • Dear Kate,

      While Fertilica Vitex works to support female hormone balance overall, it is typically used to decrease high FSH and prolactin levels. Are you underweight, or experiencing high levels of stress? It may be worth asking your healthcare provider if the birth control you are taking might be causing these symptoms and this hormone imbalance for you.

      I am not certain Vitex is the right her at this time and we also do not suggest combining herbs that have an action on the hormones with medications that do the same.

      All my best!

  7. If I take vitex to treat menstrual symptoms, will it increase my chance for unplanned pregnancy? (I tried the birth control pill, but it started causing migraines.)

    • Dear Charlotte,

      Fertilica Vitex works to support female hormone balance and in doing so also supports fertility health. If the reproductive system is healthy, there is a chance for conception (pregnancy) when unprotected intercourse is had at the time of ovulation, during your fertile window, no matter the herb, nutritional supplement being taken, or natural therapy being used.

      Does this make sense?

  8. I’ve been on vitex since the beginning of December and since then I have had the most HEALTHY, textbook period I have EVER had! Took about 1 month to kick in, caused the cycle at the time to lengthen for a bit. But when I started my next cycle, it was perfect, and I believe I may be pregnant now! Will be taking vitex throughout the entire pregnancy!

  9. My fertility specialist is putting me on Zolandex for the next 6 months to stop ovulation because of my mild endometriosis and PCOS. I have low progesterone when I fall pregnant and I have had 5 pregnancies and all ending in miscarriages before 2nd trimester. My question is, should I try Vitex while on Zolandex for 6 months or would this be a waste of time?

    • Dear Candice,

      Do you mean Zoladex? It is my understanding that Zoladex is a hormonal medication and for that reason we do not suggest taking an herb such as Vitex that has also been found to effect hormonal balance. Herbs that act on the hormonal system could affect how your medications are working.

      If you are currently already on fertility medications, you should not combine herbs with your medications. It is best to only use herbs in preparation beforehand and not mix the two.

      All my best!

  10. I started taking fertilaid (which has vitex) for almost a month and it had controlled my hormone and made me ovulate after months of not having a menstrual period. If ever i get pregnant, I plan on taking it till my first trimester to support progesterone levels and prevent miscarriage. I just want to ask how much vitex should I take when pregnant? Is it the same as TTC dose which is 900-1000 mg a day? Thanks.

    • Dear Katrina,

      Thank you for sharing what has worked for you!

      If you are deciding to use vitex during pregnancy, we suggest you consult with an herbalist, or midwife near you for guidance and supervision based on your specific need.

      All our best!

  11. Hi! Is it safe for an elderly woman over 75 to take Vitex?

    • Dear Michelle,

      The hormonal needs of women post menopause are different than the women we work with, those in their reproductive years. The female hormone balancing effects of Vitex will not bring back menstruation and may not have the desired effect for those who have gone through menopause. It would be best to find a natural healthcare provider or herbalist near you to work with.

  12. Thank you!
    I did take a look at the article (and many others) – there seems to be a “usual suspects” of dietary deficiencies when it comes to hormone imbalances and fertility issues. I’m covering all the bases!