Vitex Berry / Chase Berry: Herbal Remedy for All Types of Women’s Health Issues

DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.

Vitex berry (also commonly known as chaste berry) is by far one of the most popular and important herbal supplements for improving female fertility and general reproductive health. The name “chaste berry” was originally coined from the plant’s historical use as a way to reduce the libido of monks and other men who had taken vows of chastity. However, it has been used for thousands of years as a traditional remedy for female infertility and reproductive issues in countries around the Mediterranean sea, and may have medicinal applications in the treatment of: 

 

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Luteal phase defect (vitex berry has been shown to increase progesterone levels)
  • Hyperprolactinemia
  • Hormonal acne
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Low breastmilk production (vitex berry has a history of traditional use as a galactagogue; note, however, that it should not be taken in doses exceeding 200mg for this purpose since vitex can inhibit prolactin, a hormone necessary for breastmilk production)
  • Mastalgia
  • Threatened miscarriage / miscarriage prevention
  • Endometriosis
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Mood swings, depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues due to hormonal imbalance
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Estrogen dominance
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Amenorrhea (absence of the menstrual period)
  • Imbalanced hormones after stopping hormonal birth control
  • Spotting in between periods
  • Polymenorrhea (periods that occur too close together)
  • Menorrhagia (long, heavy periods)
  • Hypermenorrhea (consistently heavy menstrual bleeding)
  • Oligomenorrhea (Irregular menstruation occurring only 3-6 times per year)
  • Hypomenorrhea (periods with a very weak flow)

Vitex Berry for Luteal Phase Defect and Progesterone Deficiency

For women with infertility due to luteal phase defect/dysfunction, vitex berry may be able to help not only rebalance the menstrual cycle, but can also correct the hormonal imbalances that occur as a result of luteal phase defect. In one German study on a group of 52 women with latent hyperprolactinemia, 20mg of vitex berry taken daily for 3 months. After this period of time, the women were evaluated, and demonstrated a decreased prolactin release and lengthened, normalized luteal phase. In addition, previously low progesterone levels due to luteal phase dysfunction were increased and normalized. Two of the women in the treatment group became pregnant during the study. 

 

A combination treatment including vitex berry, green tea extract, L-arginine, and a mix of vitamins and minerals was administered to a group of 53 women who had been unable to conceive for 6-36 months. After 3 months of treatment, the women exhibited higher luteal phase basal temperatures, significantly increased progesterone levels, and higher rates of pregnancy than the 40 other women in the control group. By the end of the 3-month study, 26% of the women taking the vitex berry supplement had become pregnant, compared to only 10% of the women in the control group. Another 3 women conceived after a total of 6 months taking vitex berry, leading to a total of 32% of the test-group women successfully achieving pregnancy. 

 

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Vitex Berry for Hyperprolactinemia

The study above regarding the use of vitex berry for luteal phase defect also applies to the herb’s use in the treatment of hyperprolactinemia. Interestingly, some of the compounds present in vitex berry bind with dopamine receptors in the body; like actual dopamine and other dopaminergic compounds, in this way, vitex berry can decrease prolactin release. This studied behavior of vitex berry suggests that another pro-fertility herbal remedy, Mucuna pruriens, may also be of particular use to women with hyperprolactinemia. 

 

A Turkish study observed the effects of vitex berry on hyperprolactinemia and mastalgia (breast pain) in comparison to a commonly prescribed pharmaceutical for this condition known as bromocriptine (a dopamine receptor agonist that contains bromine, a toxic mineral that competes with iodine in the body). The women in the herbal test group were given 40mg of vitex berry daily for 3 months. Researchers observed that vitex berry performed equally to bromocriptine (a dopamine receptor agonist that contains bromine, a toxic mineral that competes with iodine in the body) in the relief of mastalgia and hyperprolactinemia, but without any side effects and with significantly lower cost. 

 

Vitex Berry for Menstrual Irregularities

Vitex berry’s most common use is as an herb for menstrual regulation. It can help alleviate all different kinds of menstrual irregularities, including amenorrhea, spotting, oligomenorrhea, and more (see above for a more complete list). Having a regular, balanced menstrual cycle is often one of the first steps toward healing infertility of any kind, so in this way, vitex berry can be used to heal an array of types of infertility (even if you haven’t formally been diagnosed with any specific type of infertility, or have more than one factor playing a role in your situation).

 

One study done in Germany observed significant improvements in menstrual regularity in women who received 50 drops, 3 times daily of an herbal remedy containing vitex berry and milk thistle (Silybum marianum) over the course of 3 months/3 menstrual cycles. The women with oligomenorrhea in the group experienced a significant increase in progesterone levels during the luteal phase of their cycle, while those women taking the herbal remedy (not the placebo) were more likely to experience spontaneous menstruation (in the case of amenorrhea), shortened cycle length, and earlier ovulation. The women in the test group were also more likely to conceive than the women in the placebo group. Milk thistle is known as a liver and gallbladder cleanser, and since the liver and gallbladder both play a role in hormonal balance, it makes sense that these two herbs administered together in this context had positive results on female fertility. 

 

Vitex Berry for Miscarriage Prevention

Miscarriage early in pregnancy can be due to any number of factors, though low progesterone levels frequently play a role. Vitex berry is safe for use during pregnancy, and animal studies have indicated that even especially high doses of the herb don’t impede fetal development. Besides helping to increase progesterone levels, vitex berry also has a regulatory effect on luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and may be able to boost the function of the corpus luteum during ovulation. The herb specifically lowers FSH levels, thereby decreasing excessively high estrogen levels in the process, and increases LH levels (which is what provokes the increase in progesterone levels).

 

For women who struggle to stay pregnant after conception, some midwives recommend taking vitex berry for 3 months before actual conception, and then continuing to take the herb throughout the first trimester to keep progesterone levels steady. Another herb that is used to prevent threatened miscarriage is False Unicorn Root

 

Vitex Berry for Endometriosis

The scientific research is somewhat limited in regard to how exactly vitex berry works as a treatment for endometriosis, though there are a few studies that indicate that the herb may help balance hormones in just the right way to manage this condition. In addition, Vitex agnus-castus has been used throughout history to treat endometriosis and many other female health complaints, and there’s abundant anecdotal evidence that this herb works in many cases, especially when used as part of a therapeutic protocol. 

 

One study observed that vitex berry can increase uterine growth in rats that have had their ovaries removed, suggesting the herb’s estrogenic effects. The same study demonstrated that administering this herb to the rats decreased estradiol levels. In a different animal study, the related plant Vitex negundo also demonstrated estrogenic activity; Vitex negundo administration has been shown to reduce the symptoms of endometriosis, reduce the size of endometrial cysts, and begin breaking down the epithelial endometrial tissue (the endometrial tissue that has grown outside the uterus). Vitex also possesses anti-inflammatory actions that may be beneficial specifically for women with endometriosis. 

 

Vitex Berry for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Most women with polycystic ovarian syndrome experience estrogen dominance and an accompanying progesterone deficit. This is where vitex berry excels. This herb can help regulate the balance of these two hormones and restore hormonal deficits where necessary and also keep hormonal excesses in check. Some studies also indicated that vitex berry may also be able to regulate high testosterone levels in women with PCOS.

 

In one study on rats with PCOS, administration of vitex berry increased progesterone, estrogen, and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels and decreased testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels. Both the number and size of the ovarian cysts reduced during the study, and increased numbers of corpora lutea in the ovaries indicated that ovulation had restarted in the rats treated with vitex berry. These results also support the use of vitex berry in the treatment of uterine fibroids. 

 

How to Take Vitex Berry to Boost Female Fertility

Ideally, vitex berry should be taken for at least 3 months in order to see its full results. Use of the herb carries little to no risk of adverse effects in most cases, even when it’s taken over the long-term. Women with a history of miscarriage, or who are particularly concerned about experiencing a miscarriage due to their particular health situation, may continue to take vitex for the first 3 months of pregnancy as well, if they wish. 

 

Vitex berry may be taken at a capsulized dose of 50-200mg daily as a minimum dose, though for the treatment of infertility, many experts recommend a total dose of 200mg per day if not up to 400mg per day. Vitex berry may also be available in herbal tincture form, tea form, or as a dried herb. In tincture form, follow the dosing indications on the bottle. 

 

There are few contraindications for use of vitex berry, but there are still a few worth mentioning. First of all, there is some evidence that antipsychotic drugs and hormonal birth control (or hormonal drugs in general) may interact with vitex berry. Therefore, if you’re on one of these, check with a professional before using vitex berry. Women who have a history of hormone-sensitive cancers, Parkinson’s disease, or mental health disorders should also check with a professional before starting supplementation with vitex berry. 

 

Finally, again, though side effects are quite rare with vitex berry, some women may still experience headaches, weight gain, insomnia, rash, acne, or gastrointestinal upset when they start taking vitex berry. If this happens to you, stop taking the herb or reduce your dosage (depending on the type and/or severity of your symptoms), and check with a professional for advice on how or if to proceed. 

 

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Resources: 

 

Milewicz, A., et. al. (1993). Vitex agnus-castus extract in the treatment of luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinemia. Results of a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study. Retrieved October 14, 2022 from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8369008/ 

 

Wuttke, W., et. al. (2003). Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) – Pharmacology and clinical indications. Retrieved October 14, 2022 from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12809367/ 

 

Diana van Die, M., et. al. (2013). Vitex agnus-castus Extracts for Female Reproductive Disorders: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials. Retrieved October 14, 2022 from: https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0032-1327831 

 

Westphal, L. M., et. al. (2006). Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Fertilityblend: a nutritional supplement for improving fertility in women. Retrieved October 14, 2022 from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17211965/ 

 

Bergman, J., et. al. (2000). The efficacy of the complex medication Phyto-Hypophyson L in female hormone-related sterility. A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical double-blind study. Retrieved October 14, 2022 from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11025394/ 

 

Romm, Aviva (2010). Pregnancy: First Trimester. Retrieved October 14, 2022 from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/vitex-agnus-castus#:~:text=Chaste%20tree%20(Vitex%20agnus%2Dcastus,via%20enhancing%20corpus%20luteum%20function 

 

Ilhan, Mert, et. al. (2019). Novel Drug Targets with Traditional Herbal Medicines for Overcoming Endometriosis. Retrieved October 14, 2022 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6637095/ 

 

Willet, Elizabeth (2021). Vitex – The #1 Herb for Female Fertility. Retrieved October 14, 2022 from: https://natural-fertility-info.com/vitex-number-1-herb-female-fertility.html 

 

Brighten, Jolene (2019). The Essential Guide to Vitex and the Chaste Tree. Retrieved October 14, 2022 from: https://drbrighten.com/vitex-chaste-tree-benefits/ 

 

Feyzollahi, Zoleykha, et. al. (2021). Effect of Vitex agnus-castus ethanolic extract on hypothalamic KISS-1 gene expression in a rat model of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Retrieved October 14, 2022 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140208/