Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Vitex Agnus Castus, also known as Chaste Tree Berry has been around for centuries as a natural fertility-promoting herbal aid. It is an all-herbal fertility-booster that is native to the Mediterranean region. The herb can bring about hormonal balance and treat some of the symptoms of PCOS naturally. And unlike hormonal fertility treatments, the herb is absolutely safe for human consumption. Vitex Agnus Castus has been used since the ancient Greek culture to reverse hormonal imbalances. Back then, it was touted for its aphrodisiac properties, which is where the name ‘Chaste Tree’ originated. The berries, leaves and seeds of this plant are used to create an herbal medicine. This medicine is believed to:
Are all these claims true? Has science validated the hormone-balancing claims of this herbal aid? Will it help women with PCOS? Let’s find out the answers to all these questions!
First of all, Vitex Agnus Castus is not a hormone. It targets specific body parts to encourage the secretion of luteinizing hormone or LH. At the same time, it gently suppresses the release of follicle stimulating hormone or FSH. Vitex Agnus Castus uses this mechanism to stimulate hormones essential for regular ovulation and restore overall hormonal balance.
If we are being more specific, Vitex Agnus Castus helps regulate pituitary gland function. This helps in shifting the estrogen to progesterone ratio in favour of progesterone. Typically, this ratio is skewed in women with PCOS.
Agnus castus is helpful in counterbalancing “estrogen dominance,” when you have too much prolactin and too little progesterone. This situation is rather common in women diagnosed with PCOS. This happens when progesterone levels dwindle, and you simply don’t ovulate. Vitex agnus castus is particularly helpful in maintaining stable progesterone levels during post-ovulation.
Insufficient levels of progesterone interfere with menstrual regularity and fertility. They also contribute to the development of cysts on the ovaries, which is a characteristic of PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Regularly supplementing with Agnus Castus can positively impact:
Studies have found Vitex agnus castus to be amongst successful phytotherapy option for women with PCOS. Phytotherapy is a practice of treating with plants or plant components. However, because herbal medicines are slow-acting, it takes about 3.2 months on an average to see positive results.
In this context, a clinical trial was published in July 2004 edition of Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine. The trial investigated the efficacy and tolerance of Vitex agnus castus extract in 1634 patients suffering from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). After a treatment period of three menstrual cycles, 93% of patients reported a decrease in the number of symptoms or even stopping of PMS complaints.
Another study assessed the therapeutic effect of an extract of Vitex agnus castus in premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in Chinese women. Researchers found the herb to be quite effective in the treatment of moderate-to-severe PMS in the women.
In another study, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine studied FertilityBlendTM. FertilityBlend is a female fertility supplement (a herbal concoction with chasteberry extract alongwith green tea, L-arginine, vitamins and minerals). Researchers found that this supplement can boost fertility and help get pregnant within 5 months.
In animal studies, Vitex agnus castus extract showed a significant increase in serum levels of progesterone. It also showed a significant decrease in the serum testosterone levels.
When we talk of Vitex for PCOS, its anti-inflammatory properties must be discussed. As we often say, chronic low-grade systemic inflammation lies at the heart of PCOS. Researchers have identified anti-inflammatory compounds in Vitex agnus castus. This explains why this herbal aid works wonders for PMS symptoms like pelvic pain, bloating, breast tenderness, as well as acne.
As you can see, there isn’t a huge amount of research that directly establishes Vitex Agnus Castus to be a natural cure for PCOS. However, when you’re suffering from PCOS, it’s the little things (and not just your cystic ovaries) that hamper the quality of your life. Say for example – awful PMS and bloating, painful and sore breasts caused by erratic hormonal fluctuations, brain fog, cystic acne, and inability to conceive. Using Vitex for PCOS can be really helpful to naturally treat all of these symptoms. It can make your period more regular and help you get pregnant.
You can get Vitex Agnus Castus in liquid or capsule form both online or at a drug store. It’s usually a safe herb without too many side-effects. Though it can cause mild nausea or gastric distress in some cases. As can be expected with most herbal concoctions, this one doesn’t taste so great either! If you can’t handle its taste, do opt for capsules.
The recommended Vitex for PCOS dosage is 500-1000 milligrams per day. You will need to continue using the supplement for 5-6 months to see noticeable changes. Please note, you’ll have to be patient when using Vitex Agnus Castus to treat PCOS symptoms. But the final outcome is usually well worth it.
While the above Vitex for PCOS dosage works for most people, do talk to your naturopath or gynecologist to discuss the correct dosage of agnus castus for your particular symptoms. This advice will also help in preventing interactions with other medicines or herbal drugs you may already be taking. For example, Vitex Agnus Castus is not advisable for women who are on birth control pills or prescription fertility medication. If you’re on any kind of estrogen medications, these could interact with Vitex as well.
Phytotherapy for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A review of the literature and evaluation of practitioners’ experiences – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210803314000451
Treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome with a Phytopharmaceutical Formulation Containing Vitex agnus castus – http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/152460900318515
Evaluating therapeutic effect in symptoms of moderate-to-severe premenstrual syndrome with Vitex agnus castus (BNO 1095) in Chinese women – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1479-828X.2010.01137.x/full
Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinemia. Results of a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study – http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/8369008
Effect of Vitex agnus-castus fruits hydroalcoholic extract on sex hormones in rat with induced polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – http://phypha.ir/ppj/article-1-816-en.html
Antiinflammatory and lipoxygenase inhibitory compounds from vitex agnus-castus – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.2639/full