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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 shares Angela J. Hywood, ND in Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health by Aviva Romm, MD. While Vitex 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.

Research Scientist Christopher Hobbs, Ph.D., L.Ac. A.H.G., shares of two German studies from the late 1980s in his book Vitex the Women’s Herb proving Vitex efficacy for supporting healthy corpus luteum function. In one study of 45 women, 86% responded positively with normalized or significantly improved progesterone levels (Therapiewoche and Z. Allgemeinme).

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, shared in Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health by Aviva Romm, MD, has shown that Vitex may be very beneficial for PMS symptoms, especially depression, headaches, rashes, acne, allergies and sensitivity of the breasts.

In a 1994 German study published in the German Obstetrics and Gynecology journal Therapie Woche Gynakol, 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 six and a half month open German study of 15 women with amenorrhea, 67% had resumed a menstrual cycle by the sixth month of use. Progesterone levels also increased (Gynäkol Praxis).

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: Vitex is known to help improve skin health for those with Acne Vulgaris and Post-gestatory acne (acne as a result of taking oral birth control). Along with appropriate dietary 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, including 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 some) 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 concentrations 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.
  • Loch EG, Katzorke T. Diagnosis and treatment of dyshormonal menstrual periods in general practice. Gynäkol Praxis. 1990;14:489–495. In Hobbs, C. Vitex, The Women’s Herb. Summertown, Tennessee: Healthy Living Publications. pp.68-70.
  • Peters-Welte C, Albrecht M. Menstrual abnormalities and PMS: Vitex agnus castus [translated from German]. Therapie Woche Gynakol . 1994;7:49-52. In Hobbs, C. Vitex, The Women’s Herb. Summertown, Tennessee: Healthy Living Publications. pp.57-60.
  • 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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[-] 1,344 Comments
  1. Avatar

    Hello! I am 43 and just started having hot flashes and no period for the past 3 months. This was following a time of extreme stress. My testosterone is 32, progesterone is .3, estradiol is <5.0, and FSH is 154.9. Reverse T3 is 21.9. I'd like to reverse what seems to be perimenopause. Would Vitex or Maca be better for this? I read it can decrease estrogen (but mine is already too low). One doctor prescribed Vitex while another prescribed licorice root , eleuthero, and evening primrose oil. Not sure which is best: Vitex; Maca; or licorice root, eleuthero and evening primrose. What is your suggestion?

    My mom was 51 when she completed menopause, so I just don’t want to have early menopause due to the associated health risks.

    THANK YOU!!

    • Dear Michelle,

      Vitex, Maca, Licorice root, Eleuthero and Evening Primrose can all be helpful and taken together. Vitex will not cause a hormone to raise or lower if it doesn’t need to be. It works with each body where it’s at and likewise needs to be.
      Given what I know each of them nay be helpful and I share more in our guide Achieving Pregnancy During Perimenopause. Hormonal balance, adrenal and liver support are all important, as is nutrition. Each of these can ease he transition and with consistency has potential to help the body not have such fluctuations in symptoms so often.

  2. Avatar

    Thank you Elizabeth for a such great website!
    I have PCOS and right now I am using matriarch 20 progesterone cream. But since I want to conceive I’m having trouble on how I can combine the cream and Vitex. when should I take Vitex in a cycle?

    • Dear Ines,

      Vitex is best taken just after waking with water each day of the menstrual cycle. Our research and use of Vitex with clients has proven it’s best taken consistently without taking a break. General suggested use of 900-1000mg daily. It can then be weaned off of in early pregnancy with the support of your healthcare provider, midwife or herbalist.

  3. Avatar

    I started taking Vitex due to being diagnosed with a Luteal Phase Defect & I’m TTC. My LP was typically 9 days. I started taking 1200 mg of Vitex on my 5th day of my cycle. My period ended up lasting 14 days. This has never happened to me before. I thought maybe it was the Vitex doing its thing & regulating itself. But now, I am not too sure. I typically ovulate on cycle day 17. Now I am on cycle day 17, & have not yet gotten a positive ovulation prediction. I am concerned the Vitex has messed up my cycle, & am really anxious and concerned about it all, and wondering if I should continue or stop taking it. Is this normal? Any suggestions would be great.

  4. Avatar

    Hi, I’ve been taking Vitex since I had a miscarriage in early June … at that point my progesterone was only 10. I’m expecting again, and my progesterone is now 27, but my T4 is elevated. Does Vitex affect thyroid levels as well?

    • Congratulations Jenny!

      Vitex offers endocrine support via actions on the pituitary gland without contains hormones itself. Primary effects are on the ovaries, but it may provide thyroid and adrenal support as well. It is not known to cause any hormone level to rise beyond what the body needs it to be when following general suggested usage guidelines.

      T4 can and does for some women raise in pregnancy and can return to normal at any point or after. Some doctors share that T3 and T4 can increase by up to 50% during pregnancy. Your doctor is likely to monitor this as pregnancy progresses.

      If you have not already, it is suggested that Vitex is weaned off of in early pregnancy with the help of your healthcare provider or midwife. So, do discuss a plan for this.

      My very best!

  5. Avatar

    Hello! We have been TTC and my charting has shown short luteal phases of 8-9 days. I am still breastfeeding our 14 month old, and am curious whether you would advise vitex for someone in my situation.

    • Dear Caitlin,

      The nature of breastfeeding can cause cycles to be irregular. I wouldn’t suggest Vitex at doses known to impact menstrual cycle timing/length as this could hinder breastmilk production.

      Areas of focus can be diet and getting enough: green leafy vegetables, cholesterol from eggs, coconut oil and fat from organic, grass-fed animal products, essential fatty acids and vitamin C.

      A lot of women have reported a lengthened luteal phase after supplementing with vitamin B6.

      Antioxidants are also important. There are so many benefits of antioxidants on fertility, they should be a part of every couple’s fertility program. Learn more about antioxidants and fertility…

      I hope this is helpful and you may see a return to a healthy luteal phase once breastfeeding is stopped.

    • Avatar

      Thanks so much Elizabeth for your insight. I had wondered about vitamin B6 as well. I actually conceived my daughter (2nd born) after taking vitex for a couple of months, having had short luteal phases after the birth and weaning of my first child. I think that’s what had me curious to try it again!

  6. Avatar

    I’m 52 years old tying to fall pregnant 1994 I had egg topic on my left hand side I left with one tube on my right hand side, and my doctor told me to do IVF it failed and I tried for the second time it failed again. and I went for check up my doctor told me that I’m not ovulating in the age of 35 and now I’m trying to fall pregnant naturally and I Google I found the website. for the first-time I bought Vitex and Fertility cleanse kit and fertility preparation, I will se if maybe I will be lucky because 52 age is gone…but only God will know I just want to find out what can I use to fall pregnant.
    many thanks
    Annah.

  7. Avatar

    Will vitex work for uterine polyps and/or uterine fibroids?

  8. Avatar

    This study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4897515/ – indicates that Vitex could interfere with implantation. Why do you recommend that women take it throughout their cycle?

    • Dear Julie,

      Be careful when you look at studies! The one you shared is of “n-Hexane Fraction of Vitex negundo Linn Leaf Extract”. We suggest and know the herbali medicine of the berry from the Vitex agnus-castus bush is not at all contradictory to fertility or harmful to implantation. We also suggest it pre-conception. If someone wants to continue Vitex agnus-castus berry in pregnancy they are best to do so with one on one support from a qualified healthcar provider or midwife.

      My best!

    • Avatar

      So how does “n-Hexane Fraction of Vitex negundo Linn Leaf Extract” differ from vitex? The study expressly concludes from its results that vitex may hinder implantation.

    • Yes Julie!

      The Vitex negundo, commonly known as the Chinese chaste tree, five-leaved chaste tree, or horseshoe vitex is a different species than Vitex agnus-castus of which the berry is used in herbal medicine.

      I can assure you that Vitex agnus-castus does not hinder fertility in any way.

  9. Avatar

    I’ve been battling on what’s better for lowering testosterone. I have PCOS and two of my main problems is I’m not ovulating and high TT. I’m just starting vitex that has myoinositol and d-chiro and wanted to know which is better adding maca or saw palmetto to my regimen to help lower it? I take Vitamin D because I’m deficient and I take a prenatal along with fish oil and turmic& ginger gummies.

    • Dear Kapri,

      Maca and Saw Palmetto are completely different herbs offering different support to the body. Each can be taken with Vitex, Myo- and d-chiro-inositol, and vitamin D. If you feel you may benefit from both, it’s worth learning all you can about each.

      high testosterone levels (a common issue for women with PCOS), it can also affect your fertility. High testosterone levels affect the menstrual cycle and normal ovulation. It’s important to cut out or strictly limit refined sugars and carbohydrates, which perpetuates the cycle of stress and excess androgen production.

      Herbs like Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) encourage normal androgen production in women. Note: A complete Fertility Program is often necessary to overcome long term fertility challenges caused by PCOS.

  10. Avatar

    I removed the copper IUD after 5 + 2.5 years of insertion. Here’s what I experienced: irregular periods 23-28 for several mos after- but ovulated the same time (14 days in) every month. My husband thought i was experiencing a luteal phase defect. I started taking Jamieson B6, Bcomplex and Natures Way Vitex immediately following my period. eat meat or fish 1-2 times a week so this is likely the reason for my B vitamin efficiency. As it’s fairly natural, I didn’t object. I was pregnant the same month. Could be just a coincidence of my cycle eventually resetting back to normal or the vitamins…we’ll never know!

  11. Avatar

    Hi there. I’m 29 years old. My husband and I are TTC for 3 months now (2nd baby). My cycle is 26-28 days, its always on time. My LH raises on day 13, but not high enough to give me a positive/sign that I’m ovulating. When I take the Ovulation test on day 14, the line is so faint. So it seems that my LH peeks at day 13 but not high enough to suggest ovulation. Will Vitex help me ovulate?

  12. Avatar

    Hi. Can i use Vitex, Maca, Tribulus with chinese herbal tea Xi Xian Cao and Yi Mu Cao

  13. Avatar

    I have taking vitex for some months now, but nothing, now i have not seen my period for 3 months, not pregrant, what is the cause and what can be done.

  14. Avatar

    I have been taking vitex for 7 months. I have always had a period but the vitex made me like clock work and my cycles became super predictable. Now I am one late week on my period and not pregnant. Should I stop taking Vitex? I have never missed a period before (unless pregnant).

    • Dear Celeste,

      Period shifts can be caused by so many things. Have you changed your diet, exercise routine or traveled lately? Have you been under unusual stress?
      It is not common for Vitex to be so helpful and then just stop working.

    • Avatar

      Hello,
      I have been hormonal imbalance, irregular periods and high fsh and low estrogen. My last period was 4 months ago. I am 28 years old? Will maca or vitex help me balance my hormones? Or any other advice that you can offer? I am not really sure what I can purchase from your website for my case? I would appreciate if you can reply to me I have sent several emails with no reply. Thanks

    • Dear Maryam,

      Gosh I’m sorry. I only see one email that was replied to by our customer care team and not read. The other is attached to a conversation with another customer care member.

      There can be many reasons why menstruation stops; high stress levels, dietary deficiencies, low body weight or being overweight, hormonal imbalance, rapid weight gain or weight loss, even travel or other underlying health issues. Our guide called How To Get Your Period Back has great information to consider.

      If you are still unsure of where to begin after reading through our resources, please consider working very closely with our Fertility Herbalist who can lay out an entire natural fertility program based on your specific fertility health needs. This would set you up for three to six months. Learn more about a Fertility Consultation here…

  15. Avatar

    Hello,
    what is the best way to ween off Vitex after a positive pregnancy test. I previously had a short luteal phase and was taking vitex to prolong it. I do not want to abruptly stop it but I can’t find any definitive information about how to titrate the dose down. I am taking 2,000mg daily.

    • Dear Connie,

      Thanks for asking as Vitex is best weaned off of in early pregnancy. It is best to begin my seeking the support of your healthcare provider, herbalist or midwife who can offer support while weaning, but also evaluate your health and the health of pregnancy early on.

      Weaning is perhaps not as complex as titrating and medication given there are varying forms of herbs. It’s actually rather simple. A good way to wean off of an herb or herbal blend is to take less and less each day, over a week to ten days. If you are taking herbs in a capsule form, you could open the capsule, dump a little out and then close it back up and then take it. Do this each day until you are no longer taking it (for example: decrease the dose by 1/4 and every couple of days). If you are taking a tincture (liquid extract), take fewer drops each day. Tablets will potentially need to be cut in half.

      I hope this is helpful!

  16. Avatar

    Hello Everyone,

    I’ve been taking Vitex and DIM for two years straight and now i’m worried that I’ve been taking them too long. I am wondering if this is a problem or is it okay to continue using them? Thank you for your help.

    • Dear Adecia,

      It is typically at around one year’s use of herbs and supplements like DIM that we suggest weaning off of them to see how the body is able to maintain balance on it’s own. It may also help to see the guidance and support of an herbalist or natural healthcare provider near you for one on one support for moving forward on a natural program at this point.

      I hope you’ve seem positive changes and are feeling well!

  17. Avatar

    Hi! We’ve been TTC for not very long but I’ve been tracking my cycle religiously & taking ovulation tests to track ovulation. It appears I am ovulating based on positive OPK. However, my cycle is about 33-34 days and I don’t ovulate until around day 24. So that only leaves about 9 days for my luteal phase, and I’ve been getting my period before the app tells me I’m even able to take a pregnancy test. I just came across Vitex & placed an order for it. I also plan to supplement my daily prenatal w/ additional B6, VitC and the Vitex. Just wanted to confirm you recommend taking all the entire month & either wean myself off the Vitex if I conceive or cont for up to 3 months? Thank you!!

    • Dear Sophie,

      Vitex, vitamin D and B6 can be taken all cycle long while preparing for conception and actively trying to conceive. Vitex is best weaned off of early pregnancy unless your healthcare provider or midwife suggests otherwise.

    • Avatar

      Hi Sophie, just came across your comment when researching Vitex. My situation is exactly the same as you described yours above – I wondered how you got on with Vitex and if it helped you? Thanks!

    • Avatar

      I did a combo of B6, Bcomplex and Vitex during TTC month 7. My problem was my cycle was irregular post copper IUD removal. Mostly 24 days, ovulating day 14. Some cycles were 28 days, some 23. First month taking that combo and I was pregnant. B6 was a big one for me as I don’t consume meat or fish often. May just take a little more time. Feels like forever in between, I know! It will happen just be patient and de-stress.

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