Vitex for Hormone Balance
BySarah Axtell, ND •April 2, 2023
Vitex (or chaste tree berry) is one of my go-to herbs for women struggling with PMS, PMDD, irregular periods, painful periods, and breast tenderness. It can also enhance fertility.
How does vitex work?
Vitex has a long history of traditional use in herbal medicine and most recently it is been validated by science.
Vitex stimulates the pituitary gland to produce luteinizing hormone (LH), which triggers ovulation and the development of the corpus luteum. This is why it can be helpful for both infertility and PCOS. Vitex also reduces prolactin levels which is why it is helpful in cases of irregular periods, amenorrhea (no period), and enhancing fertility.
Vitex can increase progesterone, which eases PMS, painful periods, and bloating leading up your period. I often test my patients’ progesterone levels. If progesterone is very low, I will recommend a transdermal progesterone cream initially and then often transition a woman to vitex to encourage the body’s own production of progesterone. If progesterone levels are borderline low, I will often recommend vitex to help the body raise its own levels of progesterone and overall balance the endocrine system.
Vitex can also be helpful in cases of estrogen dominance, which can lead to weight gain, cramps, PMS, uterine fibroids, and breast tenderness. Vitex helps raise progesterone, and progesterone naturally opposes estrogen, thus helping to negate the effects of estrogen dominance in the body.
How long does it take for vitex to work?
Clinically, I see vitex take 3-6 months to see noticeable improvements in a woman’s menstrual cycle (ie. regular cycles, less PMS, less bloating, less breast tenderness). This study published in the Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine found that vitex improved PMS symptoms over a 3-month period in 93% of the subjects.
Patience is a virtue when it comes to healing with naturopathic medicine. In addition to starting an herb, such as vitex, implementing a hormone-balancing diet and seed cycling can also be instrumental for hormone balance.
Talk to your naturopathic doctor regarding dose and sourcing. Herbs are most effective when dosed correctly and when they are grown and processed in a way that maintains their active ingredients.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.