What the heck is Vitex?!
Funny you should ask! This blog comes as a great follow-up to “5 Signs of Hormonal Imbalance”. And if you checked off a couple of those boxes, perhaps Vitex could be your saving grace!
What is vitex
Vitex or Chasteberry is in fact, a berry. It has been anciently used as a herbal remedy for premenstrual and menopausal symptoms and infertility. The results when used are very positive for the majority of women! According to a study listed in The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine “more than 1,500 women participated in the studies”. In addition, “one-third of the women experienced complete resolution of their symptoms, and another 57% reported significant improvement.”
That being said, herbal remedies are not to be meddled with. It is always important to check with a practitioner before administering anything new. You want to make sure that it’s the best option for you and won’t interfere with anything else.
How does vitex work
Vitex is unique in it’s abilities to stimulate the pituitary gland and increase luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is responsible for progesterone production. Progesterone is the hormone responsible for the sloughing off of the corpus luteum, also known as menstruation. Therefore, Vitex has the unique ability to promote the process of menstruation. Not only does it have the ability to regulate the secretion of vital hormones. Vitex has also been shown to eventually normalize or optimize levels for hormonal balance. Although it tends to favour supporting progesterone production, it also has an effect on normalizing or modulating estrogen levels. This is likely due to their deep synergistic relationship. This could be a helpful option for you after coming off of hormonal birth control, so, that you can naturally regulate your hormones.
Who should use it
Vitex may be a great option for you if you are dealing with any painful or excessive premenstrual symptoms. This includes irritability, mood changes, anger, headaches and migraines, breast tenderness, cramping and bloating. In recent studies they compared Vitex to the often medically used, Prozac. If you’ve diagnosed with PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – a very heightened and hindering form of PMS). You may have previously been were treated by a doctor and been put on Prozac. The only differences the studies have found are that Prozac tends to have slightly more effect on managing psychological symptoms. Whereas Vitex has more strength with physical symptoms. You may have determined that Prozac is the option for you, but it is important to remember that like any man-made substance. That means, it is working in place of your ever-intelligent, self-sufficient body to correct the issue.
The benefit of something like Vitex is that it is working WITH your body to help it regulate. Another benefit of herbs is that it supports the body’s hormone production, so, it’s easier to come off of with little to no side effects. Herbal remedies have fewer side effects than prescription drugs, and are always worth investigating as a healthier alternative.
If you are dealing with menopausal symptoms, try pairing with St. John’s Wort extract to help pinpoint your specific needs.
Are you looking to get pregnant? Due to its hormone optimizing properties, it may also be an important part of preparing yourself for a healthy conception! As always, it’s very important to work with a natural health practitioner, like myself, before diving into herbal remedies. This is especially true where fertility and pregnancy is involved! You can apply to work with me here.
Length of healing time
It is recommended that you stick with Vitex for 6 months to 1 year. It will take a minimum of 3 months to see the effects. Like anything natural, the results are slow and steady. It’s important to find ways to help yourself remain patient. Additional support could come from proper sleep, exercise and nutrition. Of course, you also want to avoid stimulants like coffee, alcohol, and refined sugars. And, eating a blood-sugar balancing diet and increasing healthy fats will help balance your hormones.
Working with a practitioner will ensure you are taking the right amount of vitex. And, a nutritionist will also help you feel confident that you are taking the right supplements.
Some other herbal remedies to consider include bitter herbs like turmeric and Oregon grape root. These will to support your liver and help with efficient estrogen detoxification. Also, the traditional Chinese female tonic called tang quai which helps to regulate hormones, tonify blood and promote better circulation!
Fears and Side Effects of Vitex
Some things to be mindful of are mid-cycle bleeding, dry mouth, hair loss, headaches and any sort of digestive upset. As always, bring these side effects to the attention of your particular practitioner. Your practitioner will tweak your plan to help you avoid these side effects or if you should perhaps discontinue use. Headaches could be a sign of excess estrogens being processed for elimination by your liver. Take note of any changes that come about after slowly introducing this herb. Discuss them with your practitioner and tweak from there. You are on your way to figuring out your unique way of healing!
Who is Vitex NOT for?
Vitex is not an option for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is also not beneficial in treating endometriosis, fibroids or cancer of the reproductive organs. Avoid Vitex if you suspect or have been diagnosed with any dopamine related diseases, including Parkinson’s and schizophrenia.
If you have chosen to stay on hormonal birth control or are being treated with hormone replacement therapy, Vitex is also not suitable for you. This is due to the fact that you are already “regulating” your hormones other ways.
What if there was a clear path laid out in front of you to help you get from stuck to amazing? I’ll set you up with the resources, tips, and motivation you need to get your hormones back in check and feel excited about being healthy and confident again. Book your hormone freedom call with me, here!