The herbal supplement used traditionally for healthy menstrual balance remains a popular choice.
With its silvery leaves and purple flowers, Vitex (also known as chaste tree, chasteberry, or monk’s pepper) is not only a beautiful plant often used for decorative purposes, it’s a useful herbal supplement. Native to Africa, southern Europe, and the Mediterranean basin, Vitex has been used for thousands of years to support patients dealing with hormonal issues involving normal menstrual cycles and menopause.
Vitex works with the hypothalamus and pituitary glands by influencing hormonal balance.* In turn, this effect helps support a healthier menstrual cycle.* Vitex also increases natural progesterone secretion through feedback mechanisms to the hypothalamus, helping balance ovarian function.*
Here are just some areas Vitex is believed to support:*
1. General menstrual health
Historically, Vitex is considered a major herb used in supporting menstrual health. It is believed to normalize the menstrual cycle and help:*
- Irregular or unusual menstrual cycles
- Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
- Polymenorrhea (when periods occur very close together)
- Oligomenorrhea (menstrual periods that rarely happen)
- Hypomenorrhea (weak menstrual cycles)
- Spotting between menstruation
- Heavy menstrual flow/bleeding
2. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Vitex is believed to help relieve symptoms during cycles, such as:*
- Mild headaches
- Minor skin rashes and acne
- Uterine and abdominal cramps
- Mild edema (swelling of the lower legs)
Hormone imbalances can occur in the anterior pituitary that lead to the common symptoms menopausal women experience, including:*
- Mood changes
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
What about side effects?
Typically, Vitex is well tolerated.* Side effects are rare; they include mild upset stomach, rash, itching, fatigue, and hair loss.
You should avoid Vitex if you are taking drugs that affect dopamine levels, such as haloperidol (an antipsychotic drug) or metoclopramide (used for anti-nausea). Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take Vitex.
How to take Vitex
Vitex is a popular herbal supplement that’s typically taken orally. In addition to Vitex, vitamin B6 is believed to increase synthesis of the major brain neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, etc.) that are typically lessened with menstrual imbalances.*