The Vitex herb: it’s likely you haven’t heard of this female-friendly herb yet, but that’s about to change—especially if you’re suffering from women’s health issues such as PMS, uterine fibroids, or menopause.
What Is Vitex Herb?
Vitex herb’s botanical name is Vitex agnus-castus, but it’s better known as the chasteberry or monk’s pepper. It’s native to the Med and Asia but now grows in the southern United States, where the weather is generally warmer.
Chasteberry is a pretty plant with lilac flowers that are sage-scented and foliage that looks similar to cannabis leaves, but it’s the fruit we’re primarily interested in for better health.
The fruit is a small, nondescript brown berry with a peppery taste, but beneath that drab exterior lies a whole host of compounds beneficial to female health.
Chasteberry Has Been Used for Centuries
You may be wondering about the name “chasteberry.” Well, we’re not the first to uncover its benefits.
Vitex herb was dubbed “chasteberry” in ancient Greece because doctors thought it suppressed sexual appetite. They prescribed it to soldiers’ wives in an attempt to prevent them from straying while their husbands were away fighting.
In the Middle Ages, monks would add chasteberry to their pepper grinders for the same reason—to support their vow of chastity.
There’s no modern scientific evidence to support this ancient theory, but Vitex has been studied and the results indicate it’s hugely beneficial to women’s health—and it won’t put you off sex.
How Vitex Can Help Women’s Health
Women have complicated plumbing—it’s all on the inside and frequently goes wrong. On top of this, we have an influx of hormones to contend with throughout our lives.
Chasteberry may help us deal with wayward hormones because research indicates it can help regulate the pituitary gland.
The pituitary gland is in charge of hormone production. It’s no larger than a pea at the base of the brain, but from there it regulates all endocrine and hormone gland production.
Hormones are often directly responsible for female health problems, from the time we begin our menstrual cycles as teenagers to the time we finish forty years later.
Here’s how queen chasteberry can help—it’s all about the hormones.
1. Eases Symptoms of PMS
PMS is something most women can agree on. It’s the pits—from the bad moods to upset stomachs, aching breasts, general pains, and emotional turmoil.
PMS can really ruin your week, but taking Vitex herb regularly may help ease the aches, pains, and upsets that accompany your monthly cycle.
Researchers believe that because it has a direct effect on hormones, it regulates the hormone prolactin, which causes many of the classic PMS symptoms. In fact, European countries including Germany already prescribe it for PMS.
One of the visible signs of PMS is a breakout. Women can suffer from adult acne, and it’s not the result of infrequent washing. It’s quite the opposite because too much washing can irritate inflamed skin. The culprit is—you’ve guessed it. Hormones.
Vitex herb can really help period-induced adult acne by balancing your hormones. Chasteberry can stop flare-ups of acne and speed up healing time with its anti-inflammatory compounds.
RELATED: 5 Natural Remedies to Beat PMS
2. Menopause Relief
If you’re looking for a natural menopause treatment that doesn’t involve HRT, then chasteberry may help.
Because Vitex herb supports the pituitary gland and helps regulate women’s hormones, it can have a beneficial effect on perimenopause and menopausal symptoms.
Vitex herb has been found to reduce the uncomfortable side effects of the menopausal estrogen drop, including hot flashes, insomnia, sweating, and depression.
Some studies even suggest it can help with the “cognitive decline” sometimes associated with falling estrogen levels.
RELATED: How Menopause Medication Helps Women
3. Supports Fertility
Problems with the luteal part of your cycle, such as a short second half, can be caused by a lack of progesterone, and this can lead to difficulty conceiving.
By regulating hormones from the pituitary gland, chasteberry helps promote a healthy reproductive system, boosting the essential luteinizing hormones and promoting a regular menstrual cycle for better fertility.
4. Treats Endometriosis
Endometriosis happens when the monthly womb lining, your endometrium, grows in other places too—such as your bowel, ovaries, and pelvic lining.
It’s not known why this happens, but it can cause pain and scarring and can lead to infertility.
Endometriosis is often treated with hormonal contraceptives that shut down your cycle and stop endometrium from forming, but for women who can’t or don’t want to take hormones, this isn’t an option.
Vitex herb may help fight against endometriosis, as it regulates the reproductive cycle and contains anti-inflammatory compounds. It should be taken long-term to potentially help with endometriosis.
5. Reduces Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are common, non-cancerous growths on the uterine walls that are made up of muscle and fibrous tissue. Fibroids can get large and change the shape of your uterus.
Other symptoms include heavy periods, lower back pain, and pain during sex. Fibroids are not fun.
Because uterine fibroids shrink when estrogen levels are low—during menopause, for example—Vitex herb’s ability to maintain a healthy balance of hormones may balance excess estrogen and prevent them from forming.
6. Supports Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a condition where small fluid-filled cysts develop on the ovaries. It also causes irregular periods and an excess of the hormone androgen—the “male” hormone that causes facial hair.
Vitex herb can help by balancing hormones—in particular, androgen and progesterone.
Too little progesterone leads to the formation of cysts, but as Vitex herb can promote progesterone (in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, as we’ve seen above), it may prevent cysts from forming.
Vitex herb can also reduce the amount of prolactin produced. Prolactin suppresses fertility as well as causing PMS, which is an issue for women with PCOS who are struggling to conceive.
How to Take Vitex Herb
By now you may be asking how you can get hold of the chaste tree fruit and start to improve your health naturally.
Luckily, it’s easy to buy as a supplement. You can take it as a tablet, capsule, or in liquid form dropped in a drink.
If you are pregnant or taking hormonal contraceptives, it’s a good idea to speak to a medical professional before taking chasteberry.
Although there are no known side effects from this natural herb, it’s wise to discuss it with your doctor first.