Last modified on May 24th, 2023
What does vitex do for a woman? This herbal supplement is used for:
- Premenstrual symptoms to help balance estrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle
- Premenstrual disorders like premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Irregular periods
- Painful periods
- Fertility in women and reproductive conditions
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Reducing breast tenderness and breast swelling
- Hormone regulation
- Hormonal migraines
- Nursing problems
- Menopausal symptoms
Below, we go into more specific things that vitex does for women and why you might consider trying these herbal treatments made from chaste tree berry. The vitex or chaste berry herbal extract is one of the best-recognized supplements for women, particularly when they have severe symptoms related to hormonal conditions like PMS and menopause.
What is Vitex?
Vitex agnus-castus extract comes from the Verbenaceae plant family. The Vitex agnus-castus fruit is also known as chasteberry or monk’s pepper. These nutritional supplements come from the chaste tree, and it’s been used medicinally since ancient Greece. Turkish medicine has a long history of use for anxiety, as an antifungal, and to help with digestive conditions.
The herbal medicine usually extracts from the fruit itself and sometimes the plant’s seed.
The supplement is thought to impact hormone levels in different ways. For example, there’s evidence it may help promote the release of luteinizing hormone. That can then increase levels of progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that helps regulate the menstrual cycle.
Taking vitex may also affect prolactin levels, which helps with milk production in women.
People primarily use Vitex agnus-castus for conditions related to the female reproductive system.
What Does Vitex Do For a Woman?
Below we answer the question “what does vitex do for a woman” in more detail and talk about the effects of vitex overall.
Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms and Menstrual Abnormalities
One of the most well-researched and studied areas of benefit for women who take vitex is in helping with reducing PMS symptoms.
PMS mental and physical symptoms can include depressive symptoms and depressed mood, irritability, constipation, migraines, and breast pain and tenderness. Fluid retention is also a common symptom of PMS, as are other emotional symptoms.
Researchers think vitex can help lower prolactin levels. Reducing elevated prolactin levels helps balance other hormones, including progesterone levels and the balance of estrogen levels, reducing PMS symptoms, including the psychological premenstrual mood symptoms.
In a study of women with PMS, those participants who took vitex during three consecutive menstrual cycles had a decrease in major PMS psychological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and cravings.
In smaller studies, women suffering from PMS took 20 mg of the supplement per day or were given a placebo for three cycles. In the vitex group, twice as many women reported decreases in symptoms, including mood swings, headaches, irritability, and breast tenderness and fullness.
There’s evidence vitex agnus-castus extract can help with cyclic mastalgia, which is breast pain associated with menstruation. Research shows it could have similar effects to drug treatment but fewer side effects.
Since vitex has hormone-balancing effects, it could help with symptoms of menopause, including physical symptoms like hot flashes and mood symptoms, as well as sleep disturbance and night sweats.
For example, in one study, vitex was given to 23 women in menopause. They reported better sleep and mood and a general reduction in their symptoms of menopause.
One of the most common reasons women use this herbal extract is that it may help with female fertility and reproductive disorders. These effects on fertility of these dietary supplements are likely due to their potential impact on prolactin levels, increasing pregnancy rates.
This could be especially beneficial if you have a luteal phase defect, one cause of infertile women. A luteal phase defect means you have the second half of your menstrual cycle that’s shortened. The condition is associated with high prolactin levels. High prolactin can make it harder to become pregnant.
Vitex berry may also help normalize irregular menstrual periods, which can help with female infertility. If you have less frequent periods than you should, taking this extract to treat the irregularity could promote fertility.
Other Vitex Benefits for Women
Other potential benefits of a vitex supplement for women include:
- Migraine reduction—in a study, women with a history of migraines took vitex daily for three months. The supplement seemed to reduce the headaches they experienced during their menstrual cycles by 66%.
- Antibacterial and antifungal—test-tube studies show that vitex could help combat harmful fungi and bacteria.
- Anti-inflammatory—vitex has shown anti-inflammatory properties in both test-tube and animal studies.
- Bone repair—in a study of women with bone fractures, taking a combination of vitex and magnesium seemed to increase bone repair markers more so than a placebo.
While vitex’s potential benefits for women, some claims are made about the supplement that isn’t yet backed up by research. This doesn’t mean they aren’t true, but just that the scientific evidence isn’t there yet to say for sure.
For example, women often use vitex to help boost breast milk production when they’re nursing. Another reason is for pain reduction. In an animal study, vitex did seem to numb pain receptors in rates, but there aren’t any human studies yet.
Since vitex can normalize hormone levels, it might reduce the symptoms of endometriosis.
Reducing acne is another reason people take the supplement. A couple of studies indicate vitex could reduce acne faster than conventional options, but the studies are old.
Is Vitex Safe?
Overall, vitex is considered a safe supplement with minimal known adverse events. There are rare but possible side effects to be aware of, including:
- Skin rash
- Bleeding between periods
- Dry mouth
- Hair loss
- Upset stomach
If you are pregnant or nursing, you shouldn’t use vitex agnus-castus. If you have a hormone-sensitive condition, you should speak to your health care provider before using the supplement. These conditions include uterine fibroids, endometriosis, breast, ovary, and prostate cancers.
Vitex can also affect dopamine levels, so talk to a doctor if you have a condition that affects your dopamine receptors or levels of the neurotransmitter.
There’s also the potential vitex could make hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives and birth control pills less effective.
Taking a Vitex Supplement
Vitex usually comes in capsule forms, and you can find it online and at some health food stores. You should check the label carefully to see the amount of active ingredients you’re getting and the dosage instructions.
They aren’t regulated by the FDA when choosing a natural supplement, but you can look for companies that have an approval seal from a third-party quality testing organization.
Organizations that provide third-party quality and purity testing of supplements include ConsumerLab.com, NSF International, and U.S. Pharmacopeia.
Most vitex supplements are in capsule form, but you can also use a vitex tincture, liquid extract, or concentrated vitex extract if you prefer.
Final Thoughts—What Does Vitex Do For a Woman?
Vitex is a relatively popular supplement among women. While the research is limited so far, there is some evidence that it could have benefits in preventing PMS symptoms of menopause and may help with infertility.
Talk to a healthcare provider before trying any supplement, particularly if you have a health condition or take an oral contraceptive.
Hopefully, in the future, there will be more large-scale clinical trials done to determine not only the effectiveness of vitex but also a standard, effective dose.
My Experience with Vitex (Chasteberry)
I recently started taking vitex, also known as chasteberry regularly. It wasn’t something I’d used before, but I decided to take it for a few reasons. First, I just felt like my hormones were off-balance. I was getting more migraines than usual, and gaining weight.
It’s been about a month since I started the routine, and I definitely feel like it’s made a huge difference. My bloating has gotten significantly better, my headaches aren’t as often, and I didn’t have major PMS symptoms like I usually do. Typically around a week before my period, I start to get blemishes, and I feel extremely tired. That didn’t happen this month, and I was even surprised when my period started becasue I wasn’t expecting it.
I take the Vitamin Shoppe’s chasteberry right now just because I wanted something I could buy in person. I’m going to link a few similar brands that might work well for some people.
I’ll also include pictures of the chasteberry I use. I take anywhere from 1-3 capsules a day. I take the DIM once daily and take maca 1-3 times a day.