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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.

Click here to shop for Fertilica™ 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.

Click here to shop for Fertilica™ Vitex

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, S. & Bone, K. (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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[-] 1,130 Comments
  1. I’ve been using Vitex for the past 8 months – I had hypothalamic amenorrhea for 7 years, and finally 5 months ago my period came back (though irregular). I continued using Vitex and just discovered that I’m 6 weeks pregnant (yay!!!). I understand that you advise to consult a medical professional whether to continue with Vitex, but unfortunately the docs I have access to have a very conventional ‘no herbs’ approach and say to stop it immediately (they are the same doctors who told me that my ovaries never worked and that I would never be able to conceive – well, guess I proved them wrong). Is it ok in your opinion to continue using it, maybe halving the dose, until the week 12? Regards,

    • Hello!

      Congratulations on your pregnancy! That is so very exciting to hear!

      It is common to hear doctors have a “no-herbs” approach/philosophy, so we have to suggest continuing your research to decide what is right for your needs. Is there an herbalist or midwife near you to consult?

      As shared in this article, what we know is that German research shows Vitex can be taken safely through the end of the third month of pregnancy not after. Vitex is best weaned off of over a week’s time when you choose to do so.

      My very best!

  2. Hi,

    Is it okay to combine Vitex, Dong Quai, royal jelly, ubiquinol, and folic acid? I am trying to regulate my irregular period and to improve the quality of my eggs while trying to conceive. Thanks in advance for your help. Regards.

  3. I ask one thing. It is help 40+ women

    • Dear Sourabh,

      Great question that I don’t know the answer to. Women over the age of 40 do take Vitex with success, but it is often not and should not be replied upon alone to support fertility health and hormonal balance.

      There are so many factors in each women’s fertility story, that it may help to know more specifics about you and your fertility to guide you further.

  4. Hi, I am 44; single, will travel abroad to try ivf with a sperm donor. My cycles are normally 26 days long, last time only 20 days, never happened before. Now on day 21 and it looks normal so far. I dont have many eggs left, amh 2; thyroid panel good. I will start homons for ivf in february and wonder if vitex taken the cycle before would be a good idea? The Dr in the clinic didnt say anything about vitex and hormons. Merry xmas to all of you!

  5. I am currently trying to conceive, I’ve done a full blood test and my obgyn prescribed me Vitamin D, b12 and folic acid. Ive been taking them for a month now. My cycle is irregular and I don’t know when and if i ovulate. I found out about vital online and wonder if it is ok for me to take it? Will it help me ovulate and conceive faster or is it better i stick to what my dr prescribed me? I am 24 years old and my scan showed very few and very little follicles.

    • Dear Alex,

      Given what I know Vitex seems worth learning more about indeed. It can be combined with the vitamins prescribed to you. I am not able to know how fast it will work for you, but it is an amazing female fertility herb that works best when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as other herbs, nutritional supplements and natural therapies for fertility health. If it would be helpful to have help in creating a natural fertility program to fit your needs that included the aforementioned, we’d be happy to work with you through our Fertility Consultation program.

  6. My cycles were regular ( 29-30 days). I started taking vitex with the beginning of the cycle and my first cycle was longer 10 days longer than usual ( 40 days) and had terrible menstrual pain before I got my period. Is vitex responsible for this and should I stop taking it?

    • Dear Ewa,

      We know Vitex can cause cycle shifts, albeit temporary. This is viewed as a sign that the body is responding. Vitex is not however known to cause menstrual pain. Could it have been due to a slightly less healthy diet (more caffeine, sugar, refined oils/processed foods than usual) or being more sedentary that cycle? These are more common culprits.

  7. I am wondering if it is advised to take Vitex during an IVF Cycle? I have been doing IVF for 2 years (taking FSH injections for 2 weeks per cycle), I am wondering when I should take it in relation to doing an IVF cycle?
    Thanks for your help.

  8. I am trying to conceive since 2 years, my doctor prescribed me Letrozol to help me in conceiving. i have late ovulation around 20 days after period.I would like to know vitex is useful for me and whether i can take vitex in conjunction with Letrozol.

    • Dear Rana,

      Given what I know, Vitex may be helpful, but we can not suggest combining it with fertility medications like Letrozole. Herbs that act on the hormonal system could affect how your medications are working. We know that one needs to eat well, exercise, manage stress, and consider natural therapies like fertility massage, or acupuncture to support and promote regular ovulation.

  9. Hi I have just been diagnosed with Fibroids. Although my doctor says they are not of concerning size (largest one being 3 cm), I still have a heavy flow and sometimes a period twice a month. I am 36 years old, i am on a low dose of birth control, would I benefit from Vitex? I don’t want to get pregnant at this time, I just want to have a normal period.

    • Dear Tawny,

      It is actually best to avoid combining herbs that influence hormonal balance with medication(s) that does the same, unless your doctor approves and will monitor you while using both. I think my guide 3 Things Women with Uterine Fibroids Should Be Doing Daily will share helpful tips to consider. You will read there about FibroDefense and DIM, both of which are best to consult your doctor or herbalist about taking with birth control. The other tips are fine to consider or learn more about. Being sure to get enough vitamins C and K, both helpful in supporting healthy blood flow, is important. Slow Flow is a product to learn more about for those heavy bleeding times.

      I hope you find easy ways to support a healthy menstrual cycle!

  10. I have been ttc for over a year and my periods are short and i have dark blood. I have been using vitex about 2000 mg and it doesn’t seem to help with my short periods and dark blood problem. I have started to use red raspberry leaf and nettles in may and that has helped me not to have such dark blood during my periods, but I still have short periods. They are two to three days long. Can i take other herbs such as dong quai and red clover as I take the vitex, red raspberry leaf and nettles?

    • Hi Lisa!

      I am glad to here that Red Raspberry leaf and Nettle are providing nourishment and helping support uterine tone. Yay! Dark blood is often believed to be due to stagnation and perhaps inadequate circulation. Dark blood is leftover from a previous cycle and not for perhaps the aforementioned reasons able to come out properly.

      It is great to learn more about Dong Quai and Red Clover. They can be taken with Vitex, Red Raspberry leaf and Nettle, yes. I would encourage a brisk daily walk, staying hydrated and eating a clean whole food diet, as well as learning more about Self Fertilty Massage as well.

      I would also like to share that in general, we find that Vitex does indeed take time to be effective and suggest it at the daily amount of 900-1000mg a day. If the practitioner you are working with suggested 2000mg daily, then do heed his/her advice. If no, it may be best to try to stay within this general suggested amount. More is not necessarily better.

      I hope this is helpful!

  11. Hi,
    I am wondering if you can take other herbs along with vitex? Such as red clover, red raspberry leaf, dong quai, nettles, milk thistle and wild yam? I have inadequate endometrial build up and have two to three day periods. I have been taking vitex for the last year. I was told that you take vitex from day one until day twelve and then stop taking it and then on day 18 start using progesterone cream. It doesn’t seem to help any. I still have short periods. I also have dark blood most of the time. Which from one of your articles could mean that I have poor uterine circulation. I also would like to know when it is good to take other herbs and when not to take them?

    • Dear Lisa,

      Red Clover, Red Raspberry leaf, Dong Quai, Nettles, Milk Thistle seed and Wild Yam can all be taken with Vitex. REd Clover, Red Raspberry Leaf and Nettle would make a lovely infusion (strong tea). You might like my DIY Uterus Strengthening Tea. Each of these can be taken daily with the exception of Dong Quai. Dong Quai is not to be taken during menstruation if menstruation is heavy.

      If you were told to take Vitex as you shared by a practitioner do heed their advice and help them know you aren’t seeing the changes you’d hoped yet (talk about this). We have found through our research and use of Vitex with our clients that it is best taken at a daily amt. of 900-1000mg all cycle long without taking a break for at minimum 3 months time. It can be continued with natural progesterone cream.

      While Dong Quai supports healthy circulation, we also like Fertility Massage and a daily brisk walk for that too.

      I hope this is all helpful!

  12. Hello,

    I have been taking vitex for one month now after my last cycle has finished and now I’m on cycle day 37 with no period and I’m really afraid to test in order not to panic for not getting my period though. so my question is it could vitex delaying my period?

    Thanks

    • Dear Ola,

      We know that for some Vitex can cause temporary cycle shifts. We understand shifts can cause concern, but we view them as a sign the body is responding. Any shifts should work themselves out within 1-3 cycles of use. Stay hydrated and exercise regularly. Try gentle abdominal massage too if that interests you. If you actively tried to conceive this cycle, it is best to test for pregnancy before discontinuing Vitex or continuing with your natural fertility program.

  13. I was wondering if there is any risk involved with “messing” up your hormones on Vitex. Say I was low on estrogen and started to take Vitex, is there any risk involved with taking it? Thank you so much.
    Sarah

    • Dear Sarah,

      Vitex nourishes the endocrine system is the way it needs. It helps each woman who takes it slightly differently. Vitex is not known to cause hormonal imbalance, or raise or lower a hormone level that does not need to be. We also do not rely upon it alone to support hormonal balance. We use holistic natural fertility programs that often combine herbs, nutritional supplements and natural therapies, a healthy whole food diet, daily exercise and stress management. You may appreciate the information in our guide, Estrogen and Fertility – The Good, the Bad and the Necessity.

  14. Hello,
    I have been taking a prenatal that contains 4mg of vitex since removing my Mirena IUD in mid-july (had it in for just under three years). I have noticed that for the last two cycles I am ovulating very early (CD9-11) using BBT to track. Could this be the vitex? This most recent cycle I Ovulated on CD12! Is this still my body adjusting to the removal of the Mirena? We have been trying since the month after removal to conceive, still no luck. Would that low of a dose of vitex even effect anything?

    • Dear Emrys,

      To be honest, 4mg of Vitex isn’t likely to have such an effect even if taken daily for 4 months or so. General suggested use of Vitex is 900-1000mg daily for as many as 6 months to a year to have see the full benefit of this herb. It seems to me more likely that this is the body regulating and rebalancing after the IUD removal.

      Taking a prenatal multivitamin is great, but Vitex isn’t like to be effective very quickly at 4mg a day. Consider also the info we share in our Fertility Tip: How to Enhance Fertility After IUD Removal.

  15. Hi there,

    I have been told that vitex needs to be “cycled” and a 5 day break each month is sufficient. I haven’t been doing this. I have just finished a bottle of 90capsules. Do I need a break or do I continue? I am not on any contraception.

    • Dear Jenna,

      This is one school of thought, yet we have found through our research and work with clients that Vitex is best taken all cycle long without a break.

      I think it is best to listen to your body… how do you feel after using Vitex? Have you seen any changes yet?

  16. This states it inhibits Inhibit follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)…shoudl I be concerned about this?

    • Dear Natalie,

      Vitex is now known to inhibit or raise a hormone levels that does not need to be. It works slightly differently for each woman who uses it. With that, if this does concern you, consider working one on one with an herbalist or naturopath near you or through a Fertility Consultation. The will get to know your fertility journey and goals in order to share which natural therapies including herbs that they think will be suit your needs.

  17. Hi..I am not getting my periods since quite long now almost a year after reading about vitex I plan to start taking it .Please let me know what should be the dosage.I really want to get pregnant now I am in my 30’s.

    Please advice the dosage and which brand is the best to buy and where can I get it.

    Thank You

    • Dear Stephi,

      Have you talked with your doctor and been able to learn the cause of your missing menstruation? This is going to be important to do!

      General suggested use of Vitex is 900-1000mg daily all month long. The Natural Fertility Shop sells FertilicaTM Vitex. This is the brand we prefer.