Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH



Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) comes from the chaste tree, which produces chasteberry, a small brown berry fruit about the size of peppercorn. Chastetree is actually a shrub native to the Mediterranean and Asia and has been naturalized in North America.

More than 20 vitex species have been investigated for chemical and biological properties. The results have included the isolation and characterization of approximately 200 compounds, mainly flavonoids, terpenoids, steroids, iridoids and lignans.

This fruit has a long history (over 2,000 years) of use as an herbal medicine.


Vitex increases low progesterone, enhances corpus luteum function, regulates luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), has the ability to reduce elevated prolactin levels via dopaminergic activity, and helps balance out the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen, raising the levels of progesterone. (>)

The medicinal ability of chasteberry to positively affect hormonal health issues appears to be derived also from dopaminergic compounds present in the herb.

While it doesn’t supply hormones to the body, it does act directly on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.

Vitex increases dopamine activity in the brain leading to a reduction of prolactin (>) which is beneficial because when excess prolactin cause disturbances in the menstrual cycle, deficiency of oestrogen in women and testosterone in men (>). It is also important to know that this effect appears to be dose-dependent. Low doses (200 mg) of Vitex can increase levels of prolactin in women and progesterone in men while higher doses (500 mg) seem to decrease prolactin (with LH and FSH levels unaffected) (>).

Vitex also stimulates the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep patterns (>).




About 75 percent of women experience unpleasant physical and emotional PMS symptoms each month that last between two to 14 days before periods.

Vitex is one of the most popular herbal remedies for PMS and cramps. One study found that after being treated with vitex for three menstrual cycles, 93 percent of patients reported a decrease in the number of PMS symptoms or a complete end of PMS complaints. (>)

Vitex reduce PMS symptoms because it suppresses the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. Numerous studies suggest that chasteberry may help reduce symptoms of PMS, including breast tenderness, headache and irritable mood.

Patients with PMS respond successfully to Vitex agnus-castus extract >


According to a 2005 study in the American Family Physician, Vitex helps ease painful menstruation, uterine bleeding and breast discomfort in menstruating women.


In her book, “Life Is Your Best Medicine,” Dr. Tieraona Low Dog recommends Vitex for women with irregular periods or those who are coming off of hormonal birth control.


Vitex is often combined with other herbs, such as black cohosh or dong quai, for maximum benefits. A 2007 study found that an herbal supplement containing chasteberry provided safe and effective relief of hot flushes and sleep disturbances in pre- and postmenopausal women. (>) Another 2015 study found that a supplement containing vitex as a key ingredient was able to reduce moderate to severe menopause symptoms. (>)


Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumours found within the uterine walls, often resulting in a change in the size or shape of the uterus, menstrual problems, infertility, as well as several unpleasant symptoms. A key way to prevent and reduce uterine fibroids is to maintain a proper balance of hormones. Chasteberry can help to balance the ratio of estrogen to progesterone.


Vitex has been shown to improve fertility, particularly for women with luteal phase defect (shortened second half of the menstrual cycle). These women have trouble because their ovaries don’t release enough progesterone.

In one trial, 48 women (ages 23 to 39) with infertility took chasteberry once daily for three months. During the three-month trial period, seven women became pregnant and 25 women experienced normalized progesterone levels, which can increase the chances for pregnancy. (>)

In another study 52 women with luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinaemia (higher than normal levels of the hormone prolactin in the blood) received a daily dose of 20 milligrams of Vitex. After three months, the women had a reduction in prolactin release, shortened luteal phases were normalized and deficits in the luteal progesterone synthesis were eliminated. Two women in the treated group also got pregnant during the course of the study, and no negative side effects of were seen. (>)


Vitex is often used by midwives and herbalists to prevent miscarriage caused by low progesterone, as the herb may help through enhancing corpus luteum function.


Vitex treats hormonally induced acne. (>) For women who experience monthly outbreaks of acne, especially along your jawline, Vitex might be an effective remedy. Research suggests that due to its ability to balance hormones it helps clear premenstrual acne. (>)


Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it. It usually involves ovaries, bowels or pelvis. No one is sure of the exact cause of endometriosis, but the key contributing factors include insulin resistance (too much insulin in the body) and hormonal imbalances.

Insulin resistance can be treated in a similar way as type 2 diabetes > while the hormonal imbalance can be overcome with Vitex, vitamin B5, B6, zinc, magnesium and D3.

The herb should be taken long-term, around 12 to 18 months, to be fully effective in this manner.

Vitex helps in endometriosis by regulating hormones and reducing inflammation around the uterus, making the symptoms less painful (>, >).


Amenorrhoea > refers to sudden lack of menstruation in reproductive women without being pregnant.

Amenorrhoea can be caused by high prolactin, which can cause hypoestrogenism or estrogen deficiency. Vitex supplementation can help to modulate prolactin and get a healthy balance of estrogen and progesterone back on track. (>)


One study found that supplementation with a vitex could increase the amount of milk produced by mothers. An older German clinical trial found that 15 drops of a tincture three times per day could increase the amount of milk produced by mothers.


Benign prostatic hyperplasia > is a prostate gland enlargement that can cause urination difficulty. A 2005 study showed that Vitex can be useful for the prevention and treatment not only of an enlarged prostate, but also prostate cancer >. Data showed that it contains components that inhibit proliferation and kill prostate cancer cells. (>)

According to EMedicineHealth, Vitex may help increase urine flow, alleviate benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and turn off sexual desire.


It has been shown that Vitex can exhibit antitumour activities in different human cancer cell lines, and that’s not all.

An extract from Vitex fruits has antiproliferative activity against human colon cancer cells >


Vitex repels insects. A spray developed from the seed extract was successful in keeping away mosquitoes, ticks, and flies from humans and animals for about 6 hours (>).


Vitex supplements are typically safe for most people when taken appropriate dosages.

If you’re pregnant or on medication talk to your doctor before taking vitex.

Vitex can interfere with some medications, including birth control, antipsychotics and oestrogen supplements.

A review of the literature regarding adverse events or drug interactions associated with Vitex indicates that it is a safe herbal medicine >








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