When we are dealing with the devastating symptoms of PCOS, we might  spend a lot of time researching the latest and greatest products that claim to alleviate symptoms and make our lives easier. Some of these end up being false claims, but there are others that show true promise. Vitex agnus-castus, also known as Vitex, Chaste Tree, or Chasteberry, is one such plant that has significant benefits and has been used for centuries. In fact, it dates back to ancient times. Its benefits are vast and include the ability to regulate and control the reproductive system in women.

In this article, we will take a look at:

  • What Vitex is.
  • What its benefits are.
  • If it helps to manage symptoms of PCOS.

What is Vitex Agnus-Castus?

Vitex agnus-castus is a beautiful tree/plant that bears fruit along with lavender foliage.  The fruit, including its’ seeds, are collected and used to create an herbal medicine. The berries and leaves are believed to prevent miscarriage for women who have low levels of progesterone, alleviate symptoms of menopause, regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle, treat fibrocystic breasts, increase breast milk supply, and help with female infertility.

Taking Vitex is thought to affect the pituitary gland and decrease the secretion of prolactin.  If decreased, prolactin will influence levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen in women. This results in the promotion of normal luteal phases, regulation of ovulation cycles, and positively impacts hyperprolactinemia (elevated prolactin levels).

Vitex has been successful in helping women of all ages and stages, with little to no side-effects.

Why Is Progesterone so Important?

No matter what our age, progesterone levels play an important role in women’s health. It is a precursor to the hormones estrogen and testosterone.  If progesterone levels decrease, so can our other hormones, which have their own important roles in our health.   Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can’t act independently of one another. The balance and interaction between these hormones determines the presence or absence of negative symptoms. This is why finding the right ratio/balance of estrogen to progesterone is vital.

 

Benefits of Progesterone:

  1. Restricts estrogen synthesis and suppresses the enzymes that promote estrogen production.
  1. Promotes proper cellular oxygen levels.
  1. May help maintain sex drive.
  1. Promotes bone building and protects against osteoporosis.
  1. Improves premenstrual symptoms (PMS).
  1. Promotes survival of the embryo and fetus during pregnancy.
  1. Is a natural diuretic.
  1. Has a calming effect on the brain, which suggests that a deficiency leads to varying levels of anxiety, depending on the level of the imbalance.
  1. Helps keep blood sugar levels normal.
  1. Normalizes zinc and copper levels.
  1. Keeps the body from producing uterine overgrowth, slowing this activity and boosting growth elsewhere.

 

Progesterone is produced by the ovaries after ovulation occurs.  And along with many other benefits, balanced progesterone levels are mandatory to maintain a healthy pregnancy – essential for preventing miscarriage.

As a woman ages, beginning in the early 30s, she produces lower amounts of progesterone.  Following menopause, a women’s body produces significantly less progesterone than a pre-menopausal woman.   However, the production of estrogen doesn’t diminish. Vitex agnus-castus can promote healthy progesterone levels at any age.

Vitex and Brain Fog

“Brain Fog” is a common symptom of women with hormonal imbalances.  Typically women who have PCOS can have “brain fog” occur, especially right before menstruation (as a symptom of PMS) or during peri-menopause, beginning around age 40. This  means we forget details and have problems focusing and concentrating. It can make it hard to focus and go about everyday life.

Vitex agnus-castus has been shown to have a very positive impact on brain fog in all age groups. It is also considered a natural anti-depressant and it can assist in managing depression and mood swings.  The overall effect results in a more positive attitude allowing us to focus and concentrate better.

How much do I take and how?

There are different ways to take Vitex.  It can be bought as berries or in capsule form. Some capsules contain only Vitex agnus-castus.  Others may have a combination of botanicals in them.  When it comes to botanical supplements, quality is very important and will impact the effectiveness of the product.



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The product is quite readily available at most natural supplement and herbal medicine stores. It is also rather inexpensive. The dosage amount and schedule should be discussed with your doctor based on your needs.

As stated, most people do not have problems taking Vitex and side effects are uncommon. However there are some mild side effects that can occur.  Sides effects may include: a mild, itchy rash on the skin and/or mild gastrointestinal issues.  If a woman becomes pregnant, she should discontinue taking the herb.

All Signs Point to Yes with Symptoms of PCOS

With so many positive benefits and its low occurrence of side effects, Vitex agnus-castus is worth trying. It’s important to stick with it for at least a few months to see results. A good idea is to keep a journal of how you feel, both physically and mentally while taking the supplement to track the benefits or any side effects.

 

References:

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-agnus-castus.html

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-968-vitex%20agnus-castus.aspx?activeingredientid=968&activeingredientname=vitex%20agnus-castus

http://natural-fertility-info.com/hyperprolactinemia.html

http://www.npis.info/basicprogesterone.htm

http://www.elevatevitality.com.au/natural-treatments-for-fibromyalgia/

http://www.babyhopes.com/articles/vitex-and-pcos-poly-cystic-ovarian-syndrome.html

http://www.life-enhancement.com/magazine/article/498-what-women-want-to-know-about-natural-progesterone

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-agnus-castus.html

Robin Nielsen

Chief Wellness Officer at Insulite Health, LLC
Robin is an Integrative Clinical Nutritionist, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition. She comes to Insulite Health with a passion for helping women live vibrant, passionate lives. Robin had her own struggles with health. As a teenager she suffered from digestive disorders, weight, acne and hypoglycemia. As an adult she continued to struggle with balancing blood sugar, adult acne, mood swings, weight gain, arthritic conditions in her hands and chronic inflammation. Robin understands first hand how symptoms of poor health can keep us from living the life we dreamed of.

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