Vitex agnus-castus is known to be a popular herbal supplement used to treat a variety of health problems. It is also touted as protection against insect bites and certain types of cancer and claimed to offer a variety of other health effects. However, not all benefits are backed by science. Let’s know more about using Vitex for fertility.
In this article:
Vitex for Fertility: Things Every Women Should Know
What is it?
Vitex which is the name of the largest genus in the verbenacease plant family includes 250 species worldwide. Vitex agnus-castus is the most common vitex used medicinally. The fruit of this is also known as chasteberry or monk’s pepper is about the size of a peppercorn. It is produced by the chaste tree which acquired its name because its fruit was likely used to describe men’s libido during the middle ages. The fruit, as well as other parts of the plant, are typically used as an herbal remedy to treat a variety of ailments. It is used to treat –
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Menstrual disorders
- Infertility issues
- Symptoms of menopause
- Nursing difficulties
- Other conditions affecting a woman’s reproductive system
In fact, it is been used in this way since ancient Greece. In Turkish medicine, it is also used as a digestive, antifungal and anti-anxiety aid.
Vitex agnus-castus is known for its ability to improve conditions affecting a woman’s reproductive system.
Ease Symptoms of PMS
It reduces symptoms which include constipation, irritability, depressed mood, migraines, and breast pain and tenderness. Researchers believe that it works by decreasing levels of the hormone prolactin. This helps rebalance other hormones including estrogen and progesterone, therefore, reducing PMS symptoms. It also appears to help reduce cyclic mastalgia which is a kind of breast pain linked to menstruation. Better study designs are needed for strong conclusions.
May Reduce Menopause Symptoms
The hormone-balancing effects of it may also help relieve symptoms associated with menopause which includes better mood and sleep. Keep in mind that in many studies showing benefits, women were provided with supplements mixed with it with other herbs. Therefore, it is difficult to isolate the effects of it alone.
May Enhance Fertility
It may improve female fertility due to its possible effect on prolactin levels. This may be especially true in women with luteal phase defect or a shortened second half of the menstrual cycle. This disorder is linked to abnormally high prolactin levels which makes it difficult for women to become pregnant. It also prevents miscarriages.
- Helps prevent insect bites – it may offer some protection against insects particularly mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas, and head lice.
- Reduced headaches – intake of this daily reduces the number of headaches in women prone to migraines.
- Antibacterial and antifungal effects – it helps in reducing the risk of infection caused by bacteria and fungi.
- Reduced inflammation – it has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Bone repair – it helps in bone fractures treatment.
- Epilepsy prevention – it may reduce the likelihood of epileptic seizures.
Vitex agnus-castus has multiple benefits but the evidence is weal so more research is needed. Therefore, more research is needed before any claims are made.
Vitex agnus-castus is traditionally used to treat a wide variety of ailments but many of its uses are currently unsupported by scientific evidence. The most popular myths or unsubstantiated uses are –
- Breastfeeding – it may boost milk supply in nursing women
- Pain reduction – it is linked to pain receptors so may reduce pain
- Treating endometriosis – it may normalize hormonal imbalances and reduce symptoms of endometriosis
- Baldness prevention – it claims to boost hair growth
- Acne treatment – it may reduce acne faster
Vitex agnus-castus has typically considered safe but minor side effects are –
- Upset stomach
- Mild skin rash
- Increased acne
- Heavy menstrual flow
Pregnant or nursing women, as well as individuals using certain types of medications like antipsychotic medications, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, may have to abstain.
Word of Caution
According to researchers, it is reported that 30-40 mg of dried fruit extracts, 3-6 grams of dried herb or 1 gram of dried fruit per day appear to be safe. As the benefits are unsupported by science so it should be used carefully and properly under the guidance of a doctor if the woman is pregnant, nursing or taking certain medications.
Vitex agnus-castusor or chaste berry may reduce symptoms of PMS and menopause and boost fertility. It may cause some mild side effects and stomach discomfort but is considered safe.