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.

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

References:
– 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.

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[-] 798 Comments
  1. Vitex gave me dizziness and headache. Also made my cycle longer (I went from 25-28 to 31 and now 33 days long and still waiting) I have been taking it for 2 month. I decided to stop Today.
    Any advice on it?

    • Dear Lore,

      I’m sorry to hear this! Did you actively try to conceive this cycle? If so, it would be best to test for pregnancy before moving forward with any new natural therapies.

      While side effects with Vitex are rare, they can happen. We know Vitex may not be right for everyone. If you feel strongly about its benefits and needing them, one option would be to consider starting again at a lower dose (if not pregnant). I’m not certain how much you were taking or when. It could also be taken with food if you think that may help.

      If you aren’t sure you want to try it again, but still want/need to support menstrual cycle or fertility health, consider working one on one with a fertility herbalist who can guide you in the right direction, on the right program, for your specific fertility health needs through a Fertility Consultation.

      Best wishes!

  2. Hello! I had found out on November 11 that I was pregnant and a week later on the 17th of November I had a miscarriage. The doctors said it was because my progesterone levels were low. The same thing happened to me about 2 years ago. I was reading this article and was wondering if I am a good candidate for this. I made an appointment with a fertility doctor, but they do not cover under my insurance and I do not have the funds to pay for that at the moment. Is this safe? Will I be able to keep a pregnancy if I take this?

  3. Hi!

    I am currenlty almost 5 weeks pregnant. My question is, if I forget to take my dosage in the morning, is it okay to take in the afternoon? Or is it better to wait till the following morning?

    • Dear Joely,

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

      We do highly suggest that if choosing to use herbs in pregnancy, that you work with an herbalist near you or a midwife.

      I know your comment was from yesterday, so whatever you chose to do should be fine. In the future, if you need and are guided in continuing Vitex, it is fine to take a dose in the afternoon.

      If interested, we offer a wealth of Pregnancy Health information here…

  4. Hi dear, How can I get Vitex? Desperate, Linda

  5. Hi.
    My name is mary i and My husband have been trying to get pregnant in vain. i am 48 years . To day i read about the use of VITEX. Can i access these capsules in Uganda. Please help iam ready for anything if it means getting pregnant. Heifer international have offices in uganda can they be of help please. Thank you
    Regards
    Mary.

    • Dear Mary,

      Have you worked with a medical doctor or reproductive specialist to understand what is preventing conception for your and your husband? Do either of you have fertility health issues?

      While Vitex is a valuable female fertility health herb, it may not alone be all that needs to be considered. Do you still have a menstrual cycle (regular monthly period and ovulation)? This will be a factor in the effectiveness of Vitex at at 48 as well. We share this here under the heading Does Vitex Work for Everyone?. Vitex cannot reverse the aging process is menstruation and ovulation have stopped due to the natural aging process.

      So, perhaps thinking about these things will help you best move forward.
      If you are interested in Fertilica Vitex as a part of your natural fertility program, it can be shipped from the Natural Fertility Shop to Uganda. I am not certain Heifer International would be able to help, but you’d need to reach out the them.

  6. Hi Elizabeth
    I’ve got one 4yr old son but since then I’ve had 3 MC in the last 2 years – at 5, 8 and 12 wks. The last one (Aug this year) meant I was sent for tests and I have Factor v Leddin. ~Although my hormone levels tested as normal, I have many symptoms of high eostrogen/low progesterone. We are trying again but I was wondering if you think that Vitex and Wobenzym N woudld help me at all – in your opinion? Ever since I had my little boy, I’ve been saying that I just feel that something isn’t right. I also get welt like itchy rashes and very dry skin ever since too. The 3rd MC, I had a scan at 7wks which showed all as fine. Any advice gratefully received. Thanks so much, Liz

  7. Hi, I’m 28 years old, single female who was diagnosed with PCOS recently. I was told that I have to start dieting, and workout more. I did some research if vitamins would help. Came up with a list of NAC, Saw Palmetto, MSM, Fish oil, D3 & a multivitamin. Would taking Vitex help?

    • Dear Mary,

      I’m pleased to hear diet and lifestyle were a starting point. We feel and have seen women successfully support their bodies in dealing with PCOS when these areas are the focus. Consider to tips we offer in our guide How to Reduce the Damaging Effects of PCOS on Fertility Through Diet and Herbs. We also know that when diet and lifestyle are optimal, herbs and supplements like NAC, Saw Palmetto, MSM and Vitex can be more effective. The guide I linked you to above will speak about Vitex more in order to help you decide if it’s right for you.

  8. I’m 39 and TTC. I have normal length cycles and periods and usually menstruate for 3-4 days. I’m on my first month of taking Vitex (1,000mg/day). I tested 6 days in a row for OPK this month and never got a positive one but my temps indicated that I did O on day 14. I then got my period 6 days early although my temps remained in the higher level and am now on day 5 of bleeding. I’m reading conflicting things online and wondering if I should stop taking vitex or stick it out?

    • Dear Stephanie,

      While I can’t tell you to stop or stick with Vitex, if you feel it best suits your needs, consider sticking with it. Vitex is best taken all cycle long without taking a break and can, for some women, cause temporary cycle shifts when it is first started. We see this as the body showing your its responding to the herb’s actions and also see these sorts of shifts work themselves out within 1-3 cycles of use.

      I hope this helps you decide what’s best for you!

  9. Hello! I have seen conflicting information online – should you stop taking Vitex during your period?

    • Dear Kim,

      Based on our research and use of Fertilica Vitex with clients, we feel that Vitex is most effective taken all cycle long without taking a break, even during menstruation.

  10. hie.

    please please help, im 32 been married for 8 years, diagnosed with POF, very small ovaries and an elevated FSH (above 60), Now we really seek medical intervention so as to concieve with my own eggs (doc said my follicles are 2mm) have been searching through the internet and saw success story of another lady who used MACA and VITEX and were successfull in cocieving. im thinking to give it a try as well. what can i do to purchase them and wht amounts to take daily?

    please help.

  11. Hi, I’m 28yrs and I’m trying to get pregnant for 10months. After a conversation with my Naturopathy doctor, I started using this week a several supplements as Vitex (400mg – 2 per day), EPO (1000mg just the days 15 to 28 during cycle), Indole 3-carbinol (2 per day), multi-vitamins, and other immune support capsules. I have a history of a Leep few months ago and a cysts on my ovaries, but in general my health is ok. I just a little worried about what can cause a delay in to get pregnant. Do you think is correct the way I taking the supplements? I appreciate all your help.

  12. Hello,
    I was diagnosed with PCOS as a young teen with abnormal periods. I started taking Vitex 400mg since last June 2016. In the beginning I was taking one capsule three times a day. After the first three months I started taking it twice a day. I took it everyday and had a normal period this past August and September but not in October. They were normal periods but my September period was a week late. What dosage do you suggest? I want to conceive in a few years so I need some desperate advice.

    Thanks!

    • Dear Raven,

      Can you share what “normal” was like and then how it differed in October? General suggested use of Vitex is 900-1,000mg daily each day of the menstrual cycle. That said, we know there are other herbs that work synergistically with Vitex to support the body trying to achieve hormonal balance with PCOS. Diet is key as well. In fact many healthcare providers believe that many women reverse PCOS by making dietary and lifestyle changes. So, that said, consider learning about a PCOS Fertility Diet and those other herbs here…

      I hope this is helpful!

    • Thanks for the response. I actually do exercise 3 times a day and I changed my eating habits almost 2 years ago. A normal period for me would last no longer than 5-6 days. My periods in the past were very painful with bloating, intense cramping, and heavy bleeding. My last period was 9/6/2016 but so far no luck with one in October. Any other herbs to take with Vitex I am willing to look into and try.

      Thanks again!

    • Dear Raven,

      What exercise do you do 3 times a day? Was this a recent switch? Have you recently lost weight? I think that guide I linked you to will be best in terms of helping you learn about herbs that can be considered along with Vitex.

    • I do up to 4 mile cardio work out 3 times a week added with a light weight workout and I use the medicine ball for my core abs workout. Yes, I have lost weight. Before changing my lifestyle I was 215 pounds and now I am currently weighing at 185. My eating habits have changed over 2 years now and the steady workout for over one year. My concern is starting back up with school while working full time so I will have to keep the eating habits strong and the I will only be able to workout 3 times every 2 weeks. I go to work and school full time and have clinicals every other weekend. I know stress is not healthy so I am just taking it one day at a time.

    • Good for you Raven!

      This workout may be considered a bit intense, and it along with weight loss could be why menstruation is changing. I guess I can not know, but can help you learn if it may be at play. Too much exercise can cause hormonal imbalance. It is also a good thing to eat healthy fasts (nuts, seeds, avocado, wild Salmon, coconut oil) for healthy hormone production. Take a look at the healthy fats you eat and if you don’t, consider adding some of them.

      Then, trust your body and tell yourself you are doing great. Expect periodic temporary shifts as your work/school load shifts and if times get a bit stressful! You’re doing great!

  13. Thank you very much for your support Elizabeth! It was very helpful.
    All the best to you too.

  14. Hi. I need advice on how to wean off Vitex. I am 7 weeks pregnant and have been taking 15 drops of Chastree berry tincture every morning since one month before I conceived. I have had two miscarriages before. And now, I am worried about stopping it and also worried about continuing taking it. My miscarriages were both around my 5th week. So I”m finally the furthest I’ve been. How do I wean it off? Should I get tested before doing so? I would aprpreciate some advice, Thank you very much. Bruna.

    • Congratulations Bruna! What wonderful news!

      Now is the time to find a natural healthcare practitioner, herbalist or midwife near you to work with (if you have not already). They are best able to help you know if testing is appropriate. If past miscarriages were due to low progesterone, then certainly do talk about testing progesterone levels before weaning off of Vitex

      If using herbs to try to prevent miscarriage, the general approach is to continue your program until at least 2 weeks past the last weeks’ gestation of the previous miscarriage. Then at that point the daily dose can be decreased over a week’s time. One way could be to take decrease the dose by two drops daily for 7 days. German research shows Vitex can be taken safely through the end of the third month of pregnancy and may help prevent miscarriage, so do seek an herbal practitioner,or someone to work with who can monitor your herbal program.

      My best!

  15. Hi Elizabeth,
    Please suggest me.I am 40 years old and trying for baby. I have ivf treatment in January.i had some blood test my FSH is 9 and AMH 4.9. I had already IVf treatment but my egg quilty was not good.i want to increase my egg quilty and balance my hormones. I have 26 days cycle but during periods i have only spoting for 3days. I am taking vitex20mg per day, Omega 3 fish oil 1000mg,preconception vitmins.So i want to regular my periods and want to conceive naturally . I have read about vitex should take 800 mg.please help me how much i sholud take on daily. i got from “primehealth”.each tablet vitex 20mg.waiting your reply.
    Kind Regards

    • Hello Mrs. Kahn!

      At 40 menstrual cycles can naturally begin to change/shift. This is very normal actually. Vitex can support the body in maintaining this “new normal” and may help the length of the cycle balance out, but is not likely to cause the cycle to return to what it was in your 30s. General suggested use of Vitex is 900-1,000mg daily. So, increasing the dose you take may show you better results. Vitex is also able to have the greatest impact on hormonal balance when diet and lifestyle are optimal (when eating a whole food diet like the Fertility Diet, exercising daily, managing weight and stress levels, etc.).

      All that said, along with Vitex, an omega-3 supplement and multivitamin, consider learning the tips and about the supplements suggested in our guide to How to Increase Your Egg Health in 90 Days. There are also helpful tips in our guide to Preparing for Conception Over 40.

      I hope this is helpful!