What is Vitex Agnus-Castus?
Vitex agnus-castus, also known as Chaste Tree Berry, or Chasteberry, is an herbal supplement extracted from the leaves and berries of the Vitex agnus-castus tree, or chaste tree, for short. This subtropical plant grows naturally in Europe, Asia and Africa. It has been historically used to treat women with hormonal imbalance since as early as 400 BC.
Common Uses of Vitex Agnus-Castus
Throughout history Vitex has been called, ‘the women’s herb’. It is easy to see why.
As an herbal supplement, it is commonly used to help alleviate the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), symptoms of menopause, fibrocystic breast disease, and infertility. It is also said to increase breast milk production, aid in delivering the placenta after childbirth, and positively impact a number of other physical conditions. These include headaches, migraines, uterine fibroids, upset stomach, acne, anxiety, eye pain, swelling, and inflammation. Last but not least, it has also been used as a prevention against miscarriage in women with low levels of progesterone.
Vitex for PCOS?
If you have PCOS, you may have already noticed that the common uses of Vitex include a list of common PCOS symptoms.
First and foremost, Vitex is an anti-inflammatory agent, working on one of the major symptoms of PCOS – inflammation. Inflammation with hormone imbalance is often an early indicator of insulin resistance, diabetes, endometriosis, infertility, and heart conditions typical of PCOS sufferers. Reducing inflammation leads directly to reduced symptoms of hormone imbalance.
Perhaps even more important is the link between decreased progesterone and the formation of ovarian cysts, showing the connection to low progesterone levels and hormone imbalance. The menstrual irregularity that women with PCOS suffer is often due to a hormonal imbalance in the premenstrual (luteal) phase of the normal menstrual cycle. Lowered progesterone levels during the premenstrual phase can result in the formation of ovarian cysts. While the presence of cysts is not a determining factor for PCOS, it is this formation that gives Polycystic Ovary Syndrome its name. Vitex’s ability to regulate hormonal balance and increase progesterone levels, can greatly reduce many of the symptoms of PCOS including the risk of forming ovarian cysts.
One of the leading causes of infertility in women with PCOS is hyperprolactinemia. This condition features higher than normal levels of the hormone, prolactin. Prolactin, as you may know, is the primary hormone responsible for lactation and milk production in new mothers. Consequently, it is also the same hormone that suppresses the reproductive hormones in the time period directly following childbirth. While high levels of prolactin and suppressed reproductive hormones may be ideal for new mothers, they are less than ideal for someone who might want to become a mother. Vitex’s ability to regulate and decrease prolactin has the potential to overcome this type of infertility.
How Does Vitex Work?
Vitex’s potential in reducing symptoms of PCOS and improving hormone balance is due to its relationship with the pituitary gland. This master gland, no larger than a pea at the base of the brain, regulates growth and development and all the other endocrine or hormone-producing glands.
Of the pituitary’s three parts, its anterior lobe is the one devoted to sexual maturation and reproduction. One of its major jobs is to produce lutropin, a luteinizing hormone. This hormone regulates both the menstrual cycle and egg production (ovulation). Additionally, the anterior lobe produces prolactin. As previously mentioned, prolactin has two main functions, to produce breast milk and act as a natural contraceptive. This occurs naturally after childbirth, as well as in women suffering from the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS.
One study has shown that the extracts of the fruit bind to the opiate receptors in the brain, potentially reducing PMS discomforts.
Why Does Vitex Work?
Pharmacological tests suggest that Vitex has a strong influence over the behavior of the pituitary gland. This influence towards increased hormone regulation, gives it the great potential to reduce PCOS symptoms. This includes infertility associated with hyperprolactinemia, acne, PMS, adverse symptoms of menopause, anxiety, migraines, the prevention of miscarriage, and even ovarian cysts. For these reasons we include this amazing herb in our nutraceutical system. We have had tremendous success with our supplement formula PolyPlus when it is used together with other very important nutrients for PCOS.
Is Vitex a Natural Remedy for PCOS?
Vitex, also known as Chaste Tree Berry, or Chasteberry, is a natural, herbal supplement taken from the Vitex agnus-castus tree. It is ingested orally in pills or tea. Pills provide accurate, measurable dosage, while the tea can provide a calming ritual in your daily routine. It is in our PolyPlus supplement, one of our four nutraceuticals to help you heal from the symptoms of PCOS. And it has helped thousands of women achieve better hormone balance. You can learn more about it here.
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