I love getting clients started with fertility herbs! There are so many areas where herbs can support you when it comes to your fertility. Some herbs promote a stronger libido. Others encourage cervical mucus production. Herbs can aid in hormone balance, menstrual cycle issues, or even decrease problems like fibroids and endometriosis.
For us in the natural fertility world, Maca and Vitex are two of the biggest herbal superstars! We get asked about them the most. They are both endocrine system supporting herbs. Yet, they work slightly differently and have their own unique benefits.
The Mighty Maca
Let’s begin with Maca (Lepedium meyenii). As an herbalist, this is one of my all-time favorite fertility herbs. While Maca has an effect on hormone balance, it’s a food-grade herb or a tonic. One thing that sets apart a tonic like Maca is that, as a food, it can be taken daily, long-term without ill effects or toxicity. Almost all of the women and the men I work with enhance their health on some level by taking Maca in Fertility Smoothies, extracts, or capsules daily.
I first became introduced to Maca for its natural mineral content, and ability to energize the adrenals and thyroid gland. In my experience, unlike Vitex, Maca is one herb people tend to feel the effects of within a few days to weeks of using it. It’s an energizer that is especially good for people who feel too tired or stressed for intercourse, exercise, or even normal life challenges.
Similar to Vitex, Maca nourishes the endocrine system and encourages normal pituitary gland function. PMS and menopausal symptoms often respond to Maca because it is believed to help balance the ratio of estrogen to progesterone. Maca plays an important role in male and female fertility, too. Animal research from 2004 published in the Journal of Endocrinology shows Maca can improve sperm count. Preliminary research with people also shows good results.
Tip: Maca works best in a specialized preparation. Look for “gelatinized” Maca root if you’re interested in trying it. “Gelatinized” simply means the starch has been removed to make Maca much easier to digest than the unprocessed root.
Vitex- Supreme Hormone Balancer
Now, let’s move on to Vitex (Vitex agnus castus). Vitex has been an herbal ally for women’s health for centuries. Also called Chastetree berry, Vitex’s medicine comes from the fruit. It’s one of the most popular herbs in Europe and Western countries for female hormone balance. In fact, for women with menstrual cycle problems, Vitex outshines most other herbs including Maca.
Today, Vitex is used to support healing from a long list of menstrual concerns: PMS mood swings, breast pain, acne and bloat, absent cycle, heavy or painful cycle, irregular cycle, anovulation and short cycles (common to perimenopause), etc.
Like Maca, Vitex has a regulating effect on the pituitary gland and is well known to aid women’s problems linked to low progesterone or imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. Agnuside in Vitex has mild hormone-mimicking activity and is believed to interact with hormone receptor sites in the body. While primarily used for women, men with high prolactin levels also benefit from using Vitex.
From an energetic perspective, Vitex is a spicy herb that helps break up stagnation in the uterus and ovaries. For this reason, it’s very helpful in natural programs for fibroids, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis.
Tip: Be aware that Vitex is a long-acting herb. It may take a few months or more to see results. In my view, using it as an extract, first thing in the morning before breakfast is the best choice.
Explore What Maca and Vitex Can Do for You
If you’re trying to decide between Vitex and Maca, consider what I’ve shared and do your own research. Explore what Maca and Vitex can do for you. Try to stay patient. Herbs take time to work, but with foundational nutritional support in place, the long-term results are well worth your effort.
I have found many women enhance their fertility health by using both herbs. If you try this route, do your best to be consistent. Both Maca and Vitex offer the most benefits when taken regularly for at least 3-6 months. We wish you well on your program and hope you come to love fertility herbs as much as we do!
- Marciano, M. (2018). Vitex agnus castus. Retrieved from: https://thenaturopathicherbalist.com/herbs/v-z/Vitex-agnus-castus/
- Hu, Yuan & Hou, Ting-Ting & Zhang, Qiao-Yan & Xin, Hai-Liang & Zheng, Han-Chen & Rahman, Khalid & Qin, Lu-Ping. (2007). Evaluation of the estrogenic activity of the constituents in the fruits of Vitex rotundifolia L. for the potential treatment of premenstrual syndrome. The Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology. 59. 1307-12. 10.1211/jpp.59.9.0016. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5959085_Evaluation_of_the_estrogenic_activity_of_the_constituents_in_the_fruits_of_Vitex_rotundifolia_L_for_the_potential_treatment_of_premenstrual_syndrome
- Hobbs, C. (2018). Herbal Medicine: Vitex: The Hormone Balancing Herb. Retrieved from: http://www.healthy.net/Health/Article/Vitex_The_Hormone_Balancing_Herb/936
- Gonzales, G.F., et al. (2004). Effect of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on spermatogenesis in male rats acutely exposed to high altitude (4340 m). Journal of Endocrinology. Jan; 180(1):87-95. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14709147
- Gonzales, G.F., et al. (2001). Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. Asian Journal of Andrology; 3: 301-303. Retrieved from: http://www.asiaandro.com/archive/1008-682X/3/301.htm