Vitex agnus-castus, also called Vitex, Chaste Tree, Chasteberry, Abraham’s Balm or Monk’s Pepper is a supreme hormonic tonic for women.
The leaves and tender stem growth of the upper 10 cm (4 inches), along with the flowers and ripening seeds, are harvested for medicinal purposes. The berries are harvested by gently rubbing the berries loose from the stem. The leaves, flowers, and/or berries may be consumed as a decoction, traditional tincture, cider vinegar tincture, syrup, elixir, or simply eaten straight off the plant as a medicinal food. A popular way of taking Vitex is on awakening as a simple 1:1 fluid extract, which is said to interact with hormonal circadian rhythms most effectively.
The berries are considered a tonic herb for both the male and female reproductive systems. The leaves are believed to have the same effect but to a lesser degree.
Vitex is a fantastic herb for fertility, helping with a range if issues such as PMS, low progesterone, lack of ovulation, irregular menstrual cycles, lack of a menstrual cycle, acne and so much more. Vitex offers many benefits but requires patience and consistency of use. It should be used all month long and taken as one dose in the morning on an empty stomach.
Studies have shown vitex to be affective at lengthening the luteal phase. While it does not contain any hormones itself, it does help the body to increase its own production of luteinizing hormone (promoting ovulation to occur) which in turns boosts progesterone levels during the luteal phase of the cycle. Vitex has a beneficial impact on progesterone levels. If miscarriages are due to low progesterone, vitex may help to normalize or increase progesterone levels. Clinical research has shown that vitex may be very beneficial for PMS symptoms, especially depression, headaches, rashes, acne, allergies and sensitivity of the breasts. In one study improvement of PMS by the first month was experienced by 32% of the women. By the third month 84% of the women experienced improvement of their PMS.
It is helpful for women who are coming off the birth control pill. For many women, cycles remain irregular for up to two years after stopping the pill. Vitex can greatly shorten that time and helps ease the body into regaining its own natural rhythm.
For over 2,000 years vitex has been used to help stimulate mother’s milk. Begin using vitex right after birth and continue for 10 days or more as needed. Several studies have shown an improvement in the skin with the use of vitex. Along with appropriate diet changes vitex may help acne.
This plant may be taken in tea form. The dosage of tincture is usually 30-50 drops, three times per day. Like all herbs, Vitex works best when combined with a lifestyle that includes pure water, whole food, gentle exercise, and plenty of self-love. Although you won’t find it in the wild, Vitex is easy to grow in our bioregion. Just remember to leave it plenty of space, since it can get up to seventeen feet tall!
It is recommended that Vitex agnus-castus be avoided during pregnancy due to the possibility of complications.