Vitex Agnus Castus, Chasteberry

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Vitex Agnus Castus or Chasteberry is a magical herb for women. In Western herbalism Vitex is used for a myriad of conditions surrounding the female reproductive system including luteal phase insufficiency (which often results in miscarriage or infertility), infertility, PCOS, amenorrhea, PMS and menopausal symptoms. Many herbs show properties of phyto-estrogens very few have phyto-progestin properties. However, Vitex is one of them.

Numerous studies have found that the berries of the plant act on the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands by increasing LH (lutenizing hormone) and mildly inhibiting the release of FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone). High levels of prolactin are also found with corpus luteum insufficiency and Vitex can also be used to regulate those levels.

The following article is from Tori Hudson’s site on the use of Vitex to Reduce PMS

Chinese women suffering from moderate to severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) were studied in a prospective, double-blind, placebo controlled, parallel-group, multi-center clinical trial. A Vitex agnus castus extract, contained 4.0 mg of dried ethanolic (70%).

The mean total Premenstrual Syndrome Diary (PMSD) score decreased from 29.23 at baseline to 6.41 at the end of the third cycle for the Vitex group and from 28.14 at baseline to 12.64 at the end of the third cycle for the placebo group. The difference in the PMSD score from baseline to the third cycle was significantly lower in the treatment group than in the placebo group. The Premenstrual Tension Syndrome Self-Rating Scale (PMTS) decreased from 26.17 at baseline to 9.92 for the treatment group and from 27.10 to 14.59 for the placebo group; similar positive results to the PMSD scores.

Comments: I’ve long used Vitex for the treatment of PMS and in my opinion, it is the single most important plant for the treatment of PMS. The effect of Vitex is on the hypothalamus-hypophysis axis and results in an increased secretion of luteinizing hormone which then favors a progesterone effect. Several other placebo controlled studies have found that Vitex reduced a variety of PMS symptoms. The current study adds to the clinical relevance of this plant in the treatment of moderate to severe symptoms of PMS.

References

He Z, Chen R, Zhou Y, et al. Treatment for premenstrual syndrome with Vitex agnus castus: A prospective, randomized, multi-center placebo controlled study in China. Maturitas 2009; 63:99-103

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