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For centuries, chasteberry was believed to promote chastity by reducing sexual desire, hence its name. It has also been historically used to increase lactation during and after pregnancy. However, these traditional applications have not been clinically investigated. Read on to learn how this supplement works, its benefits, and potential risks of its use.

Introduction

Chasteberry, also known as Vitex agnus-castus, is the fruit of the chaste tree, which is native to western Asia and southwestern Europe [R].

This fruit is used as a dietary supplement for conditions such as menopause, infertility, menstrual problems, and a number of other conditions. It is available as a capsule, liquid extract, tablet, and essential oil [R].

Components

The chasteberry is composed of [R, R]:

  • Flavonoids (casticin, kaempferol, orientin, quercetagetin, and isovitexin): These are plant pigments that are naturally found in a variety of nuts, fruits, and vegetables. These chemicals have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-viral properties [R].
  • Essential oils (limonene, cineol, pinene, and sabinene): These are the naturally occurring chemicals that give the chasteberry (and other fruits) its odor and flavor. Blends of essential oils are frequently used in aromatherapy for their effects in decreasing heart rate and blood pressure [R].
  • Anti-inflammatory compounds (iridoid glycoside): These compounds have similar effectiveness in treating inflammation as NSAIDs with far fewer side effects [R].

Mechanism of Action

Chasteberry increases dopamine activity in the brain. This results in a reduction of prolactin release in the body [R].

When too much prolactin is circulating in the body, it can cause disturbances in the menstrual cycle as well as a deficiency in levels of estrogen (in women) and testosterone (in men) [R].

However, these hormonal changes appear to be dose-dependent. Low doses (200 mg) of chasteberry can increase levels of prolactin and progesterone (likely by the inhibition of other hormones (FSH and LH)). At high doses (500 mg) of chasteberry, levels of prolactin are decreased (with LH and FSH levels unaffected) [R].

Additionally, chasteberry may stimulate opioid receptors. Opioid drugs are medically used as painkillers (e.g. morphine, codeine), therefore chasteberry may provide users with some pain relief by acting on similar pathways within the body [R, R].

Chasteberry also stimulates the secretion of melatonin, a hormone in your body that regulates the circadian rhythm (sleeping patterns) [R].

Health Benefits of Chasteberry

1) Chasteberry Alleviates PMS

In many clinical studies, chasteberry reduced a variety of PMS symptoms including breast pain and tenderness, edema, constipation, irritability, depressed mood, anger, and migraines [R].

In one study (DB-RCT) of 128 women with PMS symptoms, more than half of the patients treated with chasteberry over 6 days for 6 consecutive menstrual cycles experienced significantly reduced breast pain and tenderness, edema, constipation, irritability, depressed moods, and migraines [R].

In some cases, PMS symptoms can be caused by an excess release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. In other cases, it may be a result of an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone [R].

High doses (400 mg daily) of chasteberry may alleviate PMS symptoms by reducing circulating prolactin in the body, which restores estrogen levels. Additionally, it reduces progesterone levels, normalizing the ratio of progesterone to estrogen. These hormonal balances may provide significant relief during PMS [R].

2) Chasteberry Enhances Female Fertility and Treats Menstrual Cycle Disorders

In Germany, chasteberry is used to treat luteal phase disorders. This is the second half of the menstrual cycle, which is usually shortened in women with the disorder [R].

Luteal phase disorder is primarily caused by progesterone deficiency in the first phase of the menstrual cycle. Another menstrual cycle disorder, called amenorrhea, is the absence of menstruation. This may be caused by sustained hormone fluctuations, thyroid malfunction, pituitary tumor, premature menopause, and pregnancy [R].

In both of these conditions, it is quite difficult and/or impossible to become pregnant. Patients also experience a variety of other complications, especially in their PMS cycles.

In a study (RCT) of 96 patients with luteal phase disorders, amenorrhea and idiopathic infertility (unknown infertility), chasteberry increased pregnancy rates compared to placebo. Pregnancy occurred twice as often in patients who consumed chasteberry over a period of 3 months compared to patients who did not use chasteberry as a treatment [R].

These effects were mediated by normalizing the levels of progesterone. This helps to achieve pregnancy by alleviating progesterone deficiencies [R].

Further, patients can experience a more regular menstrual cycle. In one study (DB-RCT) of 52 women with hyperprolactinemia (higher than normal levels of circulating prolactin), chasteberry improved irregular periods and enhanced fertility. This was achieved by chasteberry normalizing the levels of prolactin in patients with hyperprolactinaemia [R].

For these reasons, chasteberry may be effective in the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome [R].

3) Chasteberry Reduces Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause marks the end of the menstrual cycle for women. This period is associated with a natural decline in the female reproductive hormones (estrogen and progesterone). In the time leading up to menopause, many women experience a variety of symptoms, including irregular periods, vaginal dryness, chills, night sweats, hot flashes, and dry skin.

In two separate trials (and surveys) totaling 75 patients, most women suffering from menopausal symptoms who used the essential oils derived from the leaf and fruit of chasteberry reported strong symptomatic relief from these menopausal symptoms [R].

Chasteberry increases progesterone at low doses (200 mg), which may be involved in reducing these symptoms of menopause [R].

4) Chasteberry May Reduce Migraines

In a 3 month study of 100 women with PMS and migraines,  chasteberry treatment reduced the frequency of monthly migraines by more than 50 % in 42 % of patients. In addition, 57 % of patients given chasteberry had more than a 50 % lower frequency of monthly days with headaches [R].

5) Chasteberry May Act as an Insect Repellant

Chasteberry is effective in repelling insects such as fleas, mosquitos, ticks, and biting flies. In a lab, animal, and human studies, a spray developed from a seed extract of chasteberry (monk’s pepper) was successful in keeping away these insects from humans and animals for a time period of about 6 hours [R].

6) Chasteberry Is Anti-Inflammatory and May Reduce Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is when the uterine-tissue lining (endometrium) begins to develop outside of the uterus. It is generally caused by genetic factors or hormonal imbalances. A common symptom of endometriosis is heavy inflammation around the uterus, resulting in pain and increased bleeding during the menstrual cycle [R].

Chasteberry may help reduce the amount of inflammation around the uterus by normalizing these hormonal imbalances, making the symptoms less painful [R, R].

It can also relieve symptoms by decreasing pain and inflammation. In one rat study, a number of compounds in chasteberry reduced pain (possibly by stimulating opioid receptors) and inflammation in various parts of these animals [R].

In another lab study (human blood cells), chasteberry exhibited moderate anti-inflammatory activity [R].

7) Chasteberry May Treat Enlarged Prostate

An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), occurs in most men as they grow older. Although it is not cancer-causing, an enlarged prostate can significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer. The likelihood of prostate enlargement increases with age [R].

Enlargement occurs when cells of the prostate gland begin to multiply increasingly, eventually causing a noticeable size difference.

Prostate cancer can occur once the prostate gland cells begin to multiply out of control. In the lab, extracts of chasteberry reduced the growth of cells and even stimulated the death of prostate cells, indicating that chasteberry may be useful for the prevention and/or treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and human prostate cancer [R].

8) Chasteberry May Reduce Acne

One of the main causes of acne is hormonal fluctuation and imbalances, which are more pronounced during PMS. As a result, many women experience acne before their menstrual cycles. Because chasteberry normalizes these hormonal imbalances (by decreasing prolactin), it may treat premenstrual acne [R, R, R].

Chasteberry may also treat premenstrual acne due to its antibacterial and antioxidative properties. In the lab, gel extracts of chasteberry inhibited the growth of acne-producing bacteria (tested in cell plates) [R].

9) Chasteberry May Treat Uterine Fibroids

A uterine fibroid is a non-cancerous tumor that develops in the uterus of many women [R].

Most of the time, uterine fibroids are caused by hormonal imbalances. Because of this, hormone therapy is commonly used to treat and shrink uterine fibroids [R].

The key hormones involved in this process are generally estrogen and progesterone. High levels of progesterone can promote the development of uterine fibroids [R, R].

Since chasteberry reduces progesterone levels, it may alleviate some symptoms of uterine fibroids.

Increased bleeding is one of the key symptoms of uterine fibroids. One study (DB-RCT) of 84 women with heavy bleeding in their uterus during menstruation found that chasteberry treatment for over a period of 4 months significantly decreased bleeding, indicating that it may reduce increased menstrual bleeding from patients with uterine fibroids [R].

Dosage

For PMS symptoms, uterine fibroids, premenstrual acne, endometriosis, and female infertility, 400 to 500 mg of standardized extract (with 0.5% agnuside) per day have been taken in clinical trials [R, R].

For menopausal symptoms, low doses of about 200 mg per day were taken in clinical trials [R].

Agnuside is the active ingredient found in chasteberry, and powder extracts of chasteberry are generally standardized to contain 0.5% agnuside [R].

Side Effects

If used in limited amounts (not more than 1000 mg per day), this fruit tends to be very well-tolerated and there have not been many reported side effects. In rare cases, there have been reports of skin rashes and stomach discomfort, while there are also reports of increased menstrual flow [R].

Do not take chasteberry during pregnancy, as this will cause hormonal fluctuations, which may have strong effects on an individual during this period.

Drug Interactions

Drug interactions or contraindications with chasteberry are unknown. However, because it increases dopamine, it may interfere with drugs that affect dopamine levels [R].

This would mainly apply to patients taking antipsychotic drugs and those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. These individuals should consult their doctor before taking chasteberry.

Women taking other hormone-altering drugs such as birth control pills should not use chasteberry. Hormonal changes caused by chasteberry interrupt the action of these drugs. Furthermore, if you have a hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, then chasteberry should be avoided [R].

Natural Sources/Forms of Supplementation

Chasteberry can be found in a number of forms in your local store and online. The fruit is found in dried capsules as well as in liquid extracts. Most of the time it is mixed with other natural herbs, but can still be found in extracts of itself only.

Limitations and Caveats

The chasteberry has not received FDA approval as a health-product, and it’s always recommended to speak with a healthcare provider while using this as a supplement.

High-quality clinical studies on chasteberry are limited and are small or of short duration. While some evidence supports the use of chasteberry for PMS and cyclical breast discomfort, evidence for its use in other conditions remains uncertain.

User Experiences

One female user reported that she had elevated prolactin levels, which can prevent pregnancy. She commented on the success she had from taking vitex, “I’ve tried it before and it works. My doctor was amazed to see an $8 herb do what a $130 medication does.”

Another female user with infertility had different results, “I used it with mixed results. The first 6 months it regulated me a lot better than I would be without it. But after the 6-month mark, my periods became further and further apart. However, I never got any side effects from it like I did from vitamins.”

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10 COMMENTS

  • carol close

    This comment is in response to Randa Feb 10 comment. The genus is Vitex and you noticed that studies were done on the same genus, but different species, Vitex agnus castus or Vitex rotundifolia or Vitex negundo or Vitex fischeri. Mass spectrum-derived chemical fingerprints for seeds of the same species are similar. On the other hand, seeds from different species within the same genus display distinct chemical signatures, even though they may contain similar characteristic biomarkers….
    such as one species may contain more vitexin than another species, more vitamin c, more calcium , more phosphorous, and other nutritional chatacteristics. This study below shows the exact chemical composition of each species. Casticin (also known as vitexicarpin) is the Vitex species compound with the highest number of demonstrated biological activities (e.g., estrogenic, opioid, antitumoral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory) (Lee et al., 2011; Xu et al., 2012; Ye et al., 2010). The properties of other interesting Vitex compounds, such as agnoside and rotundifaran, are also discussed. It also suggests the miligrams to take in a dried form verses an alcohol tincture. In some places, V. agnus-castus is not available and people use the fruits of V. rotundifolia or V. trifolia. These fruits share similar ethnopharmacological applications. Some commercial preparations of V. agnus-castus are adulterated with V. rotundifolia or V. trifolia and up to date, the use of these mixtures have not induced secondary
    effects but it is suggested that the desirable pharmacological effect is reduced (Webster, 2008). http://sistemanodalsinaloa.gob.mx/archivoscomprobatorios/_12_capitulolibro/15438.pdf

  • carol close

    Please also include my comment which I also sent before about Vitex improves baldness in women and reduces excess hair in the wrong places such as face, buttock, chest, and back in women which are signs of hyperandrognism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4528347/ I see that has been omitted.

    1. Randa L

      Hi Carol,
      Thanks for the link to the study. It will be added to the post asap.

      Randa

  • carol close

    Vitex because it helps with hyperandrogenism in men, too, helps reduce male pattern baldness and also reduces prostate cancer growth in addition to reducing enlarged prostates (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and male breast enlargement (gynecomastia).
    https://www.livestrong.com/article/496300-uses-of-vitex-for-men/ “Uses of Vitex for Men.”
    Vitex decreases androgen levels, helping to treat but not cure androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. Vitex reduces Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or enlarged prostate. A 2005 Swiss study published in “Planta Medica” indicates that Vitex not only helps treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, but also aids in the treatment of prostate cancer. According to the study, Vitex extract contains key constituents that slow the growth of prostate cancer cells and promote apoptosis, a process in which old cells die and are replaced by new cells.

    1. Randa L

      Hi Carol,
      Thanks for your feedback. The post does include the treatment of enlarged prostate and prevention of prostate cancer by chasteberry. Its use in treating male pattern baldness will be reviewed and included if the evidence is sound.
      Best,
      Randa

  • carol close

    Vitex because it helps with hyperandrogenism in women will help get rid of women’s balding and excess hair growth in the wrong places like on their face, chest, stomach, buttocks, etc.

  • carol close

    One last point, traditional Chinese medicine also lists Vitex for swelling, eye pain, body inflammation, migraine, headaches, rheumatism, chronic bronchitis, cancer and gastrointestinal infections which I found below in this cancer research paper on Vitex fruit.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29298515 “Vitex rotundifolia Fruit Suppresses the Proliferation of Human Colorectal Cancer Cells through Down-regulation of Cyclin D1 and CDK4 via Proteasomal-Dependent Degradation and Transcriptional Inhibition.” Viticis Fructus (VF) as the dried fruit from Vitex rotundifolia L. used as a traditional medicine for treating inflammation, headache, migraine, chronic bronchitis, eye pain, and gastrointestinal infections has been reported to have antiproliferative effects against various cancer cells, including breast, lung and colorectal cancer cells. However, the molecular mechanisms by which VF mediates the inhibitory effect of the proliferation of cancer cells have not been elucidated in detail. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanism of VF on the down-regulation of cyclin D1 and CDK4 level associated with cancer cell proliferation. VF suppressed the proliferation of human colorectal cancer cell lines such as HCT116 and SW480. VF induced decrease in cyclin D1 and CDK4 in both protein and mRNA levels. However, the protein levels of cyclin D1 and CDK4 were decreased by VF at an earlier time than the change of mRNA levels; rather it suppressed the expression of cyclin D1 and CDK4 via the proteasomal degradation. In cyclin D1 and CDK4 degradation, we found that Thr286 phosphorylation of cyclin D1 plays a pivotal role in VF-mediated cyclin D1 degradation. Subsequent experiments with several kinase inhibitors suggest that VF-mediated degradation of cyclin D1 may be dependent on GSK3[Formula: see text] and VF-mediated degradation of CDK4 is dependent on ERK1/2, p38 and GSK3[Formula: see text]. In the transcriptional regulation of cyclin D1 and CDK4, we found that VF inhibited Wnt activation associated with cyclin D1 transcriptional regulation through TCF4 down-regulation. In addition, VF treatment down-regulated c-myc expression associated CDK4 transcriptional regulation. Our results suggest that VF has potential to be a candidate for the development of chemoprevention or therapeutic agents for human colorectal cancer.

    1. Randa L

      Hi Carol,

      This is interesting info. Any studies on the Vitex agnus castus species? The whole post is on that particular species.

      Thanks!

      Randa

  • carol close

    Chasteberry (Vitex Agnus Castus) increases progesterone and significantly reduces luteinizing hormone and prolactin. Chasteberry (Vitex) suppresses lactation in nursing mothers. In addition to your 9 benefits, Vitex also reduces migraines, reduces breast cancer risk, reduces fibrocystic disease (benign breast cysts), reduces arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and lymphomas, improves insomnia and sleep quality, prevents dementia, reduces polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), amenorrhoea, oligomenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism in women, and reduces migraines and headaches, plus traditional Chinese medicine also lists Vitex for swelling, eye pain, body inflammation, chronic bronchitis, cancer and gastrointestinal infections. In males, it also reduces gynecomastia (male breasts).

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18415863 “Gynecological efficacy and chemical investigation of Vitex agnus-castus L. fruits growing in Egypt.” Vitex increases progesterone and significantly reduces luteinizing hormone and plasma prolactin hormone.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8330858 “Vitex agnus castus extracts inhibit prolaction secretion of rat pituitary cells.”

    Section 4 needs to be corrected. If you want to induce lactation, try Blessed Thistle or Fenugreek, but, don’t try Vitex as it may dry up your milk supply.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586661/ “The Use, Perceived Effectiveness and Safety of Herbal Galactagogues During Breastfeeding: A Qualitative Study.” Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle are the herbal remedies that are most commonly recommended for deficient milk supply and have been listed as L3 (moderately safe) by Hale.
    Galactogogues: medications that induce lactation.Gabay MPJ Hum Lact. 2002 Aug; 18(3):274-9.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26530175/ [Breastfeeding (part III): Breastfeeding complications–Guidelines for clinical practice].

    Section 4: You say that Chasteberry induces lactation when Chasteberry actually suppresses lactation because it suppresses prolactin. Prolactin is usually regarded as the hormone of lactogenesis i.e. it causes milk to be produced. But in excess, prolactin reduces libido, causes hypogonadism, galactorrhoea and has inflammatory properties too. According to Wikipedia-prolactin, Prolactin, also known as luteotropic hormone or luteotropin, is a protein that is best known for its role in enabling mammals, usually females, to produce milk. It is influential in over 300 separate processes in various vertebrates, including humans. Prolactin is secreted from the pituitary gland in response to eating, mating, estrogen treatment, ovulation and nursing. Prolactin is secreted in pulses in between these events. Prolactin plays an essential role in metabolism, regulation of the immune system and pancreatic development.
    Section 4 should be completely eliminated or revised. Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) suppresses lactation by reducing prolactin. Vitex agnus-castus increases plasma progesterone. It significantly reduces luteinizing hormone levels and plasma prolactin levels. After your baby is born, it’s the instant drop in progesterone once the placenta is delivered that allows the hormone prolactin to cause milk production to increase. After the birth of a baby, you are supposed to have low progesterone levels and when you are nursing, you are supposed to have high prolactin levels. Vitex does the opposite increasing progesterone and suppressing prolactin and suppressing luteinizing hormone. When nursing, you do not want to reduce prolactin with Vitex.

    I checked your references in section 4. Your references do not support your research. The first reference you site actually said the opposite, “Chasteberry is NOT recommended for enhancement of milk production.” The next reference sited a small study involving 20 healthy “MEN” which showed increased prolactin levels in those receiving a low dose of chasteberry (120 mg per day) but a decrease of prolactin secretion with higher doses (480 mg per day). Then the story about lactating women giving birth and leaving the hospital has a reference that has nothing to do with lactation, but is really about premenstrual syndrome.
    Below are your references and what your references actually say.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16156340 “Chasteberry” It says, “It’s traditional use as a galactagogue (i.e., a substance that enhances breast milk production) is NOT well supported in the literature and should be DISCOURAGED.” It also says, “Chasteberry is NOT recommended for enhancement of milk production.”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9021345 “The effects of a special Agnus castus extract (BP1095E1) on prolactin secretion in healthy male subjects.” It says, “A small study involving 20 healthy “MEN” showed increased prolactin levels in those receiving a low dose of chasteberry (120 mg per day) but a decrease of prolactin secretion with higher doses (480 mg per day).”

    Here is another study about Vitex and lactation.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18204102 “Safety and efficacy of chastetree (Vitex agnus castus) during pregnancy and lactation.” In lactation, theoretical and expert opinion conflict as to whether chastetree increases or decreases lactation.

    Here is other interesting info on Vitex.
    In males, Vitex reduces excessive prolactin which reduces male breasts (gynecomastia) by increasing androgens and reducing estrogen.
    A web search shows men use Vitex to reduce gynecomastia, improve decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and infertility. Vitex increases progesterone, lowers prolactin, plus has no effect on testosterone on males, according to the research here.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18646183 “Hyperprogesteronemia in response to Vitex fischeri consumption in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii).” There are documented effects on female reproductive function, evidenced by increased progesterone levels and consequent regulation of luteal function with Vitex agnus castus consumption. During a 6-week period of intense V. fischeri consumption by male and female chimps,. V. fischeri consumption was associated with an abrupt and dramatic increase in urinary progesterone levels. Female estrogen levels were not significantly impacted, nor were male testosterone levels as both male and female chimps consumed the fruit. (Note: Vitex agnus-castus and Vitex fischeri are in the same genus and share similar phytoconstituents.)

    According to Wikipedia/progesterone, adult males have levels of progesterone as high as those in women during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.

    This study below shows high prolactin causes decreased androgen, increased estrogen, and gynecomastia in males, so Vitex can reduce high prolactin which is the real cause of gynecomastia, and reduce gynecomastia in men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3987263/ “Gynecomastia: Clinical evaluation and management.” Although prolactin receptors are present in male breast tissue, hyperprolactinemia may lead to gynecomastia through effects on the hypothalamus, causing central hypogonadism. Activation of prolactin also leads to decreased androgen and increased estrogen and progesterone receptors in breast cancer cells. If similar events occur in male breast tissue, it could lead to gynecomastia.

    Here is something else. In women, Vitex reduces excess prolactin which reduces breast cancer risk.
    http://www.biochemia-medica.com/content/role-prolactin-human-breast-cancer The Role of Prolactin in Human Breast Cancer. A decrease in prolactin levels achieved by either pharmacologic or genetic means in human breast cancer cells dramatically reduced transformation and tumorigenic properties of these cells.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2752044/ Vitexins, nature-derived lignan compounds, induce apoptosis and suppress tumor growth. A mixture of Vitexins EVn-50 and purified Vitexin compound VB1 have cytotoxic effect on breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer cells and induces apoptosis with cleavage in PARP protein, up-regulation of Bax, and down-regulation of Bcl-2. This induction of apoptosis seems to be mediated by activation of caspases because inhibition of caspases activity significantly reduced induced apoptosis. We demonstrated a broad antitumor activity of EVn-50 on seven tumor xenograft models including breast, prostate, liver, and cervical cancers. Vitexin is a class of nature lignan compounds, whose action and anticancer effect is mediated by the mechanisms different from the classical lignans. Vitexin induced antitumor effect and cytotoxic activity is exerted through proapoptotic process, which is mediated by a decreased Bcl-2/Bax ratio and activation of caspases.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12520164 “Cytotoxicity and apoptotic inducibility of Vitex agnus-castus fruit extract in cultured human normal and cancer cells and effect on growth” Cytotoxicity of the extract against human uterine cervical canal fibroblast, human fibroblast (HE-21), ovarian cancer (MC-7), cervical carcinoma (SKG-3A), gastric signet ring carcinoma (KATO-111), colon carcinoma (COLO201), and small cell lung carcinoma (LU-134-A-H) cells was examined. It is concluded that the cytotoxi activity of Vitex extract may be attributed to the effect on cell growth, that cell death occurs through apoptosis, and that this apoptotic cell death may be attributed to increased intracellular oxidation by Vitex extract treatment.

    Another interesting fact: Vitex reduces benign breast cysts (fibrocytic disease).
    https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0032-1327831 “Vitex agnus-castus Extracts for Female Reproductive Disorders: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials.” Benign breast cysts also called fibrcystic breast disease is due to excessively high prolactin levels or hyperprolactemia. Also breast tenderness and pain especially before your period are due to excessively high levels of prolactin. Vitex agnus castus reduces benign breast cysts.
    https://clinphytoscience.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40816-016-0038-z “The premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual mastodynia, fibrocystic mastopathy and infertlity have often common roots: effects of extracts of chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) as a solution.” Vitex agnus-castus extracts may affect these conditions and reduce hyperprolactemia (thus reducing pms syndrome, mastalgia/breast tenderness, benign breast cysts, and infertility) through dopaminergic activity via binding to dopamine-2 (DA-2) receptors, resulting in prolactin inhibition.

    Vitex reduces arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and lymphomas.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24680620 “Therapeutic effects of standardized Vitex negundo seeds extract on complete Freund’s adjuvant induced arthritis in rats.”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9741302 “Vitexicarpin, a flavonoid from the fruits of Vitex rotundifolia, inhibits mouse lymphocyte proliferation and growth of cell lines in vitro.” Vitexicarpin may be a potential therapeutic agent involved in inflammatory/immunoregulatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lymphomas.

    Vitex helps insomnia and improves sleep quality.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28208808 “Adding Agnus Castus and Magnolia to Soy Isoflavones Relieves Sleep Disturbances Besides Postmenopausal Vasomotor Symptoms-Long Term Safety and Effectiveness.” A significant increase in sleep quality and psychophysical wellness parameters was observed.
    Probably the most important finding, Vitex can help prevent dementia since it decreases luteinizing hormone and increases progesterone. You can increase your body’s progesterone level naturally in several ways: vitamin C and Vitex/chasteberry for women who are premenopausal, and over-the-counter progesterone cream or progesterone pills for women who’ve reached menopause. When you’re premenopausal, your ovaries still may be able to produce progesterone, but they need a nudge. Once you’ve had your final period and a year has passed (the official definition of menopause), topical or oral progesterone is the best choice. Brain cells concentrate progesterone to levels twenty times higher than blood serum levels. How Vitex helps in dementia:
    Vitex can improve the quality of night time sleep with increased delta sleep by increasing progesterone and especially by lowering luteinizing hormone which can help stop dementia. Luteinizing hormone rises to high levels with age in both men and especially in menopausal women because of the reduction in progesterone levels plus lowered sex hormones. High luteinizing levels increase core body temperatures and prevent delta sleep and increase night time awakenings. Vitex lowers luteininzing hormone which facilitates delta sleep with a core body temperature drop for brain cells to shrink for the glymphatic system to work in nighttime brain cleaning of brain toxins and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
    http://www.eurekaselect.com/81915/article “Evidence for the Role of Luteinizing Hormone in Alzheimer Disease.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glymphatic_system
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2276126/ ‘Sex Hormones, Sleep, and Core Body Temperature in Older Postmenopausal Women”
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2499593 “The role of estradiol and progesterone in decreasing luteinizing hormone pulse frequency in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.”

    Vitex reduces polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), amenorrhoea, oligomenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4528347/ “Herbal medicine for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and associated oligo/amenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism: a review of the laboratory evidence for effects with corroborative clinical findings.”

    Vitex can reduce migraines and headaches by normalizing hormone levels, but the addition of magnesium, and vitamin b-6 can make migraines better.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26707041 “Is migraine a consequence of a loss of neurohormonal and metabolic integrity? A new hypothesis.” We evaluated 30 patients ages 16-66 with migraine who were treated with a multimodal treatment program. All patients received a complex program which included: hormonorestorative therapy (HT) with bio-identical hormones; correction of balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic systems and simultaneously calcium/magnesium balance; “resetting” the pineal gland; improvement of intestinal absorption through restoration of normal intestinal flora, and a cleanse from parasitic infestation (if necessary). Serum levels of total cholesterol (TC), pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), progesterone, total estrogen, and total testosterone were determined. Results: All patients responded to this regimen. We do not have patients who still have migraine after they started to use this program. Laboratory finding prior to HT showed the significant deficiency in production of all basic steroid hormones (progesterone and pregnenolone production declined the most). Concurrent symptoms such as fibromyalgia, insomnia, depression, gastrointestinal disorders, and fatigue had disappeared. Total cholesterol completely normalized in 22 (91.7%) patients. No adverse effects or complications related to this program were registered. Conclusions: Our findings support the hypothesis that migraine is a consequence of a loss of neurohormonal and metabolic integrity, and that migraine can be managed by a multimodal approach.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21530095 “A new horizon into the pathobiology, etiology and treatment of migraine.” Increased progesterone during pregnancy evokes progesterone receptors A/B, which coexist with estrogen receptors, providing complete remission from migraine episodes. Moreover, estrogen also increases nociception through extracellularly signal-regulated kinase (ERK) stimulation and down-regulating antinociceptive GABA, IL-R1 and Zn-fingers. Hormones may provoke migraine indirectly by disrupting mineral homeostasis. Estrogen enhances the absorption and half-life of copper which in turn inhibits the absorption of zinc. Zinc is required for the synthesis of melatonin and CoQ10 essential for growing women. Excess of copper exacerbates the deficiency of zinc, melatonin and CoQ10 typically low in migraineurs. Melatonin is an antioxidant, free radical scavenger and activates antioxidant enzymes like CuZn-superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase (a Se-enzyme) and glutathione reductase. Zinc deficiency reduces activity of CuZn-SOD. Magnesium and vitamin B6 modulates the level of NO in the cell, both of which are deficient in migraineurs. Magnesium is essential for the removal of trapped NO from within the cell which does not occur under low magnesium levels, which reacts with superoxide generating dangerous peroxynitrite. Iron stimulates nitric oxide synthase producing more NO which is inhibited by zinc, thus, antagonizing peroxynitrite generation. Female hormones lowers magnesium but increase calcium levels which enhance migraine ubiquitousness. Accumulation of copper and iron in deep areas of brain and peripheral nerves typically catalyses the oxidation of catecholamines and generate free radicals involved in lipid-peroxidation, demyelination, denudation of axons and neurodegeneration in specific areas exposing hyperalgesic axons provoking Classical migraine. Furthermore, zinc is an essential component of Zn-fingers (Krox20 and Krox24) which play a pivotal role in the differentiation of Schwann cells-the mainstay for the myelination/remyelination of peripheral nerves. Taken together, conceptually and logically, 30 migraineurs were administered 75 mg of zinc sulfate orally in water daily for 6 weeks+one capsule of vitamin B-complex+one capsule of vitamin A or E (first 10 days) which almost cured all of them. Placebo controlled trials with incremental doses of zinc sulfate along with magnesium and selenium are proposed to augment recovery involving large population of migraineurs. Monitoring of hair and blood mineral analysis for rational therapy is recommended.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22791378 “Use of Vitex agnus-castus in migrainous women with premenstrual syndrome: an open-label observation.”. Out of 100 women over 3 months, 66 women reported a dramatic reduction of PMS symptoms, 26 a mild reduction, and 8 no effect. Concerning migraine, 42 % of patients experienced a reduction higher than 50 % in frequency of monthly attacks, and 57 % of patients experienced a reduction higher than 50 % in monthly days with headache.

    1. Randa L

      Hi Carol,

      Thank you for your feedback. The information on Vitex increasing progesterone and reducing luteinizing hormone and plasma prolactin hormone was already in the mechanisms section. Vitex increases progesterone and prolactin in low doses and decreases prolactin in high doses. As for vitex and lactation, the reference https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16156340 does state that it is not recommended to use vitex for lactation, but if you read the full study it states “Some evidence suggests that low doses might increase milk production in women who are lactating. A small study involving 20 healthy men showed increased prolactin levels in those receiving a low dose of chasteberry (120 mg per day) but a decrease of prolactin secretion with higher doses (480 mg per day))” Also when you say “Then the story about lactating women giving birth and leaving the hospital has a reference that has nothing to do with lactation, but is really about premenstrual syndrome.” The the reference in question was a review about female reproductive disorders and it did cite that study: https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0032-1327831.”Many of the earlier clinical studies on Vitex, such as those focussing on its galactagogue activity [19], [20], were open-label or observational studies.”. However, after reviewing that study, we decided to remove it because the study was old (1943). We also decided to remove all the information regarding lactation because the evidence was not strong as you pointed out. We also added the migraine information per your recommendation in the post as well. The rest of the information you sent will be reviewed in depth to see if the research is sound and will be included if it is.
      Thanks again for your helpful and interesting feedback,

      Randa

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