Vitex is a group of about 250 species of flowering plants. Out of these, around 18 are cultivated by people. Some of the species are also called chastetree, and have fruits referred to as chasteberry. Many Vitex species grow in subtropical and tropical climates, but some are native to Europe and Asia where they thrive in moderate climates. These species have been used to traditional medicine for a long time, and have also become popular among couples seeking to increase their fertility in recent times. So, how is Vitex used? And exactly how is it said to increase fertility? If you are trying for a baby, and especially if you have been trying to conceive for quite a while, these are both questions you may like to have answers to.
What does vitex do?
Vitex may not be a magical solution to infertility, but there are studies that back up the idea that it can have a positive effect. This is, apparently, because using the plant has a regulating influence on the pituitary gland, a hormone-producing gland near the brain. The pituitary gland plays an essential role in the female menstrual cycle if there is a hormone imbalance within the gland, signals are not sent to the ovaries to produce the right hormones.
Concretely, vitex may encourage the pituitary gland to produce luteinizing hormone, or LH, which sends a message to the ovaries to start ovulating, and then to start producing progesterone, a hormone that dominates the luteal phase of the cycle. Vitex may, in other words, promote ovulation and increase the length of the luteal phase. Ovulation disorders and a short luteal phase are both common fertility problems for women. According to some sources, vitex can be used to treat minimal to mild endometriosis as well. Its progesterone-promoting effect may even lower the risk of miscarriage in women who have had repeated miscarriage losses, something that can be due to low progesterone levels.
Vitex advocates also advise using the plant to tame Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), and to turn previously irregular menstrual cycles into regular cycles. It may even be possible for vitex to kick-start menstrual cycles that had come to a complete halt (amenorrhea). If vitex truly does have the ability to regulate the female hormones that are vital to the menstrual cycle, it would hardly be a surprise to see it curing common fertility problems. Hormones form one of the most important keys to a woman's fertility, after all.
How is Vitex used? Are there any side effects?
Vitex is usually taken once a day, either in capsules or as a tincture. Vitex can be taken on its own, or in combination with other fertility-enhancing herbs. I've never taken it myself, but I do know that herbal medications can interact negatively with each other in some cases. I'd advise anyone taking Vitex in combination with other herbs to consult with a herbalist or other qualified alternative healthcare provider. When Vitex is taken on its own, you would usually take 1,000 mg a day for capsules, or 90 drops if you are using the tincture. People who use Vitex normally take it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. If Vitex sounds like a magical solution for you by now, you are probably wondering if it comes with any side effects and if the plant is safe for use at all! Vitex species have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, but that doesn't offer any guarantees that it is safe.
In Germany, Vitex has been approved as a treatment for menstrual cycle irregularities. Plenty of people from all over the world use Vitex, and it's pretty unlikely that you will have any serious problems. As with any drug or alternative treatment, you take responsibility for your health when you decide to take Vitex. Reported side effects include headaches, nausea, an upset stomach and skin rashes. The side effect that deserves to be taken most seriously is depression, however. Some women report mood swings, but those who already battle depression say that Vitex can really make their symptoms worse. If you are depressed, Vitex is probably not the fertility enhancer for you. Do you have any personal experience with Vitex? Please leave a comment!