New evidence reveals vitex (chaste tree berry), may actually promote female reproductive health and natural fertility…
Today I have the pleasure of posting the first part of an email interview that I conducted recently with Sarah Abernathy author of ‘So You Want to Have a Baby’. I’ve been wanting to go into more detail about the wonderful herb vitex, so I asked Sarah to share her insights and wisdom. I hope you enjoy it.
What are some women’s concerns Vitex may help with?
In one study, vitex outperformed vitamin B6 for relieving PMS symptoms like depression, headaches, water retention, and constipation. 77% of women taking vitex reported PMS relief, compared to 60% of those taking vitamin B6. In addition, vitex has been clinically shown to relieve breast pain related to PMS or hyperprolactinemia.
Vitex has been found to help normalize ovulation, improve a short luteal phase and reduce Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), all known fertility inhibitors. In one study, vitex helped normalize progesterone levels and increased the luteal phase from 5.4 days to 11.4 days. In addition, two double-blind studies show vitex extract increases a woman’s fertility and chances of successful conception.
Increase mother’s milk after childbirth
In one study, vitex significantly improved milk flow and milk release for nursing women when compared to placebo. Vitex is most helpful if milk flow is low after childbirth. (Ask a lactation consultant if you’re unsure.) European research confirms its safety for breastfeeding infants.
Hot flash rescue
Many herbalists find vitex relieves hot flashes better than black cohosh, the most common herbal choice in the U.S.
How does Vitex work?
For fertility, Vitex increases luteinizing hormone 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.
Vitex decreases high prolactin levels, which are associated with breast pain. Prolactin is a hormone that stimulates milk production and breast growth during pregnancy. High levels in the absence of pregnancy are often the result of a very common women’s endocrine disorder called hyperprolactinemia. High prolactin levels are also linked to fertility problems.
Vitex is an incredible hormone balancer, which adapts to women’s different needs. Vitex has been shown to normalize heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), relieve amenorrhea (absent menstrual cycle), and decrease polymenorrhea (too frequent periods). Vitex even eases inflammation of the uterus or ovaries, so it’s good choice for women prone to painful fibroids or cysts, too.
How much Vitex should one take, how much, and for how long?
Just 60-90 drops of vitex extract, taken once a day all month long can improve many women’s imbalances. However, unlike powerful hormone drugs, vitex works slowly to normalize the body. Maximum benefits are often achieved after 6-12 cycles with vitex.
Can I use Vitex while I’m on progesterone?
You can use vitex together with natural progesterone cream. But, if you’re taking oral progestin drugs (synthetic progesterone), you should first discuss using vitex with your physician because it is not known how the herb might affect your treatment.
Can I use Vitex if I am going to get IVF?
Consult with your doctor before using vitex if you’re planning on having IVF. Many physicians will suggest their patients avoid herb use altogether during an IVF cycle. Because vitex does influence hormone level, some researchers speculate it might interfere with IVF or fertility drug treatments.
Does Vitex interfere with medications my Dr. prescribed?
Vitex is quite safe when used in its whole form. However, because of its influence on hormonal balance, it is suggested to avoid concomitant use with birth control drugs or hormone replacement therapy.
What is the best form to use Vitex in and why?
I prefer herbal tincture or capsules. I have found these forms to be the most effective. Teas don’t seem to extract the medicine as effectively as tinctures or capsules.