Chasteberry, Your Hormones And Seizures - Passionate For Truth

Chasteberry, Your Hormones And Seizures

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Balancing your health can take time, but rest assured, it is time well spent.  As we have continued on the quest to fully recover seizures, although each component of seizure recovery has taken time, they have each been completely beneficial to overall recovery and healing.  Irregular menstrual cycles, extended follicular phases, annovulatory cycles and the timing of seizure activity all seemed to point to the fact that ovulation was not well regulated for my daughter.  This unhealthy menstrual pattern many times led to seizures at either ovulation, right before menses, or during menses.  Since we had already implemented many of the other things that are recommended to regulate menstrual cycles and facilitate healthy ovulation, we still seemed to be missing something.  Seizure occurrence had dwindled a great deal, but when a breakthrough seizure flare-up would occur, we could easily attribute it to an irregularity in the menstrual cycle.  Due to our understanding and known personal connection between hormones (particularly estrogen and progesterone, but not excluding thyroid) and seizure activity, scientifically known as Catamenial Epilepsy, we found that one of the final steps that we needed to take to become seizure free was to help restore proper ovulation.  This led me to engage in more specified research for further understanding of the connection between Chasteberry, your hormones and seizures, which ultimately led to our desired results!

Lifestyle Changes Should Always Come First

Of course, having effective remedies to help support your health while you re-balance, recover, or overall optimize can be a very important part of your health protocols.  In my opinion, however, taking a look at lifestyle first is always the best medicine.  Removing harmful lifestyle habits, foods and toxins is necessary to any good health and is the footing or base that any added whole food supplements needs in order to be the most effective for you.  Here are a few suggestions of how to get started:

 

Reduce Stressful Lifestyle –

Pregnenolone is used to produce cortisol.  If you have high levels of stress for a long period of time, the body uses this precursor for stress instead of allowing for natural, healthful progesterone production.

Do everything in your power to reduce your stress level! Stress has a HUGE effect on your hormone levels.  Whatever imbalance is happening inside of you, stress will amplify it.  Stress increases insulin resistance, interferes with thyroid function, lowers progesterone, makes it more difficult for your liver to break down excess estrogen and other toxins, as well as causing inflammation and impacting gut health. No matter how much you clean up your diet, if your stress level is still through the roof, your health (and fertility) will suffer. [FERTILITY TIP!]

As busy women, we tend to gloss over this recommendation and move on to more seemingly ‘quick fix’ remedies.  Reducing stress and figuring out better ways of dealing with it, however, are much more important in the long run and make all the difference in the world in steering your health and recovery in the right direction.

Be Mindful Of Your Diet

  • Consuming a lot of vitamins and minerals as well as good fats is important in hormone production.
  • Sugar needs to be cut out as it can cause the body to preferentially produce serotonin instead of dopamine.
  • Caffeine needs to go as it can raise cortisol levels.
  • A focus on whole foods is important.

Proper Use Of Supplements –

  • Replace nutrients in which you may be deficient. Magnesium, zinc, B6, as well as vitamins C and D can all help in the production of progesterone and its precursor hormones which are the basis for looking into Chasteberry in the first place!
  • Consider the use of natural progesterone to help support your progesterone levels.  Many think that progesterone cream is a one-stop-shopping fix-all, but that isn’t necessarily the case.  It may help in the short-term, but your main focus should be to figure out how to increase your body’s own progesterone production.

**The United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) denotes a recognized standard of purity and strength in regards to Natural Progesterone. It is sometimes referred to as “human-identical” or “bio-identical” progesterone, which differentiates it from synthetic progestins or progestogens.

 

Chasteberry, Your Hormones, and Seizures

Our bodies are a delicate balance of many different systems, and the endocrine system is smack dab in the center of that balance.  I am continually amazed by all of the things that I continue to discovered in my research that have an affect on hormones.  Just as amazing as what affects hormones, is what hormones can affect, especially if they are out of whack, dominant or deficient!  For instance, did you know that if you are not ovulating correctly, it could be that your progesterone is too low?  One of the classic underlying causes of catamenial epilepsy (seizures related to your menstrual cycle), is having progesterone that is too low in your estrogen to progesterone ratio.  This means that either your progesterone is too low even though your estrogen is fine, or your estrogen is too high, making your progesterone too low for the proper ratio that those two hormones should have with each other.  This matters for epilepsy because as a rule, estrogen is excitatory, whereas progesterone is calming; thus, too much estrogen unopposed by the proper ratio of progesterone can allow for excessive excitability.  For some, this manifests as seizure activity.

Chasteberry is not a magic pill for recovering seizures, however once you have dealt with some of the lifestyle and dietary changes that are known to benefit hormone balancing as well as reduce inflammation and other seizure triggers, it could be a consideration for you if you are still having symptoms.  The symptoms that my daughter was dealing with were similar to symptoms of PMS, including longer than the ‘normal’ menstrual cycle of 25-35 days, headaches and migraines at ovulation, along with heavier and longer than normal bleeding.  These had all definitely affected her seizure activity in a huge way in the past – particularly if she had an annovulatory cycle which many times caused her to go 45-60 days between menstruating.  Because of these things, it made sense to me to research other conditions that modeled similar symptoms.

Some of what I discovered regarding Chasteberry (Vitex) and it’s particular connection with epilepsy is listed here:

 

*The antiepileptic activity of hydrophilic extract of Vitex agnus castus fruit (Vitex) was evaluated by the kindling model of epilepsy.  A study showed results which indicate that Vitex can reduce or prevent epileptic activity as demonstrated by reduction of ADD and S5D (length of convulsion) in a dose dependent manner. In conclusion, Vitex at appropriate dose (study was using between 60-180 mg) can probably reduce or control epileptic activities.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18577418

 

*Chasteberry tea helps reduce epileptic seizures, which is one of the powerful abilities and amazing health benefits of Chasteberry. According to a laboratory study, male rats were given the dosage of chasteberry experience a noticeable reduction in seizures and the length of the convulsion. It proves that chasteberry is effective in reducing and controlling epileptic seizures.

 

* Monthly cycles. Most healthcare professionals are not aware of menstrual-associated seizure patterns and the specific effects of oestrogen and progesterone on seizure threshold. By keeping a diary of seizure activity and your menstrual cycle, you can determine whether there is a link between hormonal balance and seizures. Wherever possible, seek out natural methods, such as Vitex agnus castus, to balance hormonal activity.

http://www.healthy.net/Health/Article/Epilepsy/2882

 

When I found these particular pieces of information, I felt confident that I was onto something.   Continuing on with understanding Chastetree was worth my time and effort if it was something that could continue to help balance anything else that could potentially effect seizures!

 

 

What Is Chasteberry?

Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus), also called monk’s pepper, is the fruit of the Chaste Tree. It is native to Western and Central Asia, Southwestern Europe, and is now common in much of the Southeastern United States.   This peppery fruit that resembles a peppercorn, is considered to be a powerhouse herb.

Coming in numerous forms, from supplements in pill form to the raw extract and tinctures, powder, oil, whole berry, and even tea (which is said to increase the potency of the herb), each of the chasteberry forms can be of benefit in some way.

For centuries, Chasteberry (vitex) has been used to treat many hormone-related gynecologic conditions. (1 ) Over the past 50 years alone, chasteberry has been used widely in Europe for gynecologic conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), cyclical breast discomfort, menstrual cycle irregularities, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, breast tenderness, infertility, and more.  The German Commission E approves the use of chasteberry for irregularities of the menstrual cycle, cyclical breast discomfort, and PMS, and it is widely prescribed by family physicians and gynecologists in Germany.(2)

According to Dr. Jockers, chasteberry acts as a mild remedy to ease the physical and emotional symptoms of menstruation by working on stabilizing the hormones (3):

 

“it is said that Vitex or chasteberry can effectively reduce PMS symptoms by lessening the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. The cause of irregular menstrual cycles or even the absence of periods can sometimes be due to elevated prolactin levels.  Elevated prolactin levels are another reason for hormonal imbalances. By modulating prolactin, Chasteberry may also help balance female sex hormones to support a more regular menstrual cycle.  Many herbalists believe that Chasteberry is a source of naturally occurring progesterone. Chasteberry provides relief from the monthly symptoms associated with PMS, which include cramps, bloating, acne, breast tenderness, and mood swings. It does so by normalizing the ratio of estrogen to progesterone.”(4)

 

Dr. Lara Briden has great information, as well as the necessary caution regarding taking Chasteberry:

 

“Vitex promotes progesterone by promoting ovulation. It does this by preventing your pituitary gland from making too much prolactin. Prolactin has an ovulation-inhibiting effect, so less prolactin=better ovulation. Vitex also contains opiate-like constituents, which calm your nervous system. That’s why it’s helpful for premenstrual anxiety and sleep problems.”(5)

 

Vitex is said to positively treat acne, headaches and migraines, inflammation, nausea, diarrhea and joint pain because it assists in restoring the hormonal balance that is upset during pms (6)

Since we definitely saw migraine activity as a precursor to seizure activity, much of this information rang as true in our world.

Chasetree is recognized for its usefulness in treating menstrual problems, PMS, menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, breast tenderness and disposition swings, infertility and reduced production of milk in lactating females, and some women have been reported discover a big change in menstrual flow once they begin taking this herb (we did!).

Vitex helps to make fundamental changes in the delicate chemistry of the body, therefore, it can take some time to have an effect.  Since Vitex is a harmonizing and nourishing herb, it works behind the scenes to restore balance in a gentle way. Unlike a refined synthetic drug which forces the body to change, Vitex works to nourish and support the system to bring about long term balance.  Vitex does contain flavonoids and alkaloids, “However, no single component is apparently responsible for the herb’s activity; various compounds are most likely acting together to bring about its effects,” https://earthkindherbal.wordpress.com/bibliography#foster_ii

 

IS CHASTEBERRY ESTROGENIC?

Vitex does have a slight estrogenic effect, but it tends to raise estrogen and progesterone at the same time. Because of this, women with high estrogen may want to be wary taking it. By checking with your health professional prior to adding it to your health regimen, you can find out if they think that it is right for you.

The Science Behind Chasteberry

 

Our current understanding of Vitex is that it has a supporting and regulating effect upon the pituitary gland. The pituitary is known as the “master gland” because it controls many vital bodily functions, such as sending chemical signals to the ovaries which tells them how much hormone to make.

Vitex (Chaste Tree Berry) is one of the most powerful herbs for women’s fertility and menstrual health. There are numerous studies and testimonials of Vitex and its effects on the body. One of the reasons Vitex is so effective and popular is because of its ability to balance hormones while not containing hormones itself. Vitex supports hormonal balance in the body by having an effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis (hormonal feedback loop), communicating to the ovaries for the purpose of correcting the hormone balancing problem at the source.  By stimulating dopamine production, prolactin is suppressed.  This suppression has a cascading effect to raise progesterone.

 

Vitex has been shown in studies to benefit:

Progesterone Production:

Scientists have concluded that reduced progesterone levels might be connected with and luteal phase defects.  By helping to grow the body’s progesterone levels, it is possible to reverse such defects.

“Chasteberry is an herb know to improve progesterone production,” Dr. Warner says. “It’s also used for PMS, irregular menses….Specifically, it works by stimulating the pituitary gland to produce more luteinizing hormone (LH) .   This {increase}, in turn, signals the ovaries to produce more progesterone.”

Lengthening a short luteal phase:

Studies have shown Vitex to be effective 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.

Increasing progesterone levels:

Vitex has been shown to stimulate the formation of the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum is responsible for the secretion of progesterone. In a study of 45 women, 86% responded positively with normalized or significantly improved progesterone levels.

Fertility:

Vitex is one of the best fertility herbs available to us when it comes to balancing hormones and regulating the menstrual cycle.  According to Dr. Warner, chasteberry is also used to support of early pregnancy when there is a history of potential progesterone imbalance.

Chasteberry’s therapeutic effects are attributed to its indirect effects on various hormones, especially prolactin and progesterone. This hormonal effect appears to be dose-dependent: low doses of extract have resulted in decreased estrogen levels and increased progesterone and prolactin levels, possibly caused by an inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and stimulation of luteinizing hormone (LH) levels.4,7,12 However, in some studies of persons receiving higher doses, FSH and LH levels remained unchanged, while prolactin release was decreased. These effects may explain why lower doses of the herb might stimulate breast milk production, whereas higher doses seem to have the opposite effect.

Inhibiting Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH):

 

In explanation, Dr. James Duke explains that it has a progesterone-like action, “decreasing the estrogen to progesterone ratio, thereby benefiting in premenstrual syndrome [PMS], which may result from excessive estrogen,” (Duke 194). “Research suggests that chasteberry works primarily on the pituitary gland to stabilize and balance the hormonal fluctuations women experience every month. By increasing the body’s secretion of luteinizing hormone [LH], it reduces prolactin and increases both progesterone and follicle-stimulating hormone [FSH],” (Duke II, 72)

 

Promoting Ovulation:

Vitex promotes progesterone by promoting ovulation. It does this by preventing your pituitary gland from making too much prolactin. Prolactin has an ovulation-inhibiting effect, so less prolactin=better ovulation. Vitex also contains opiate-like constituents, which calm your nervous system. That’s why it’s helpful for premenstrual anxiety and sleep problems by its ability to increase progesterone levels [might I add, helpful in calming seizure activity?].

Other Reasons To Use Chasteberry

I’m including many of the other reasons there are to use Chasteberry because in my experience, many women who suffer with Catamenial Epilepsy also deal with one or more of these things as well.  For me, this information provided even more confirmation of a connection overall between Chasteberry, your hormones and seizures!

Irregular Periods

Many women have irregular periods and are often prescribed progesterone to help regulate their period.  More often than not, this is either in the form of synthetic birth control pills or sometimes synthetic progesterone alone.  Since it is known that Vitex increases one’s one progesterone production, it makes sense that it could be used to help regulate an irregular period.  Another benefit is that chastetree works by decreasing prolactin.  This may be the culprit for many women in causing too few periods.  My preference is to  lean towards supporting the body’s ability to make its own hormones before adding additional ones, especially if the ones being given are synthetic progestins.  Synthetic progestins (the type of progesterone in birth control pills) can cause side effects such as weight gain, bloating, acne, moodiness, hair loss, and many other long term problems (trust me from personal experience on this one!).  Because Vitex is an adaptogen (adapts to support the body in the way that is best for it) to the reproductive system, best known for its effectiveness in treating a large variety of hormone-related issues in women by normalizing the hormones in their menstrual cycles.

Lack of menstruation (amenorrhea):

In a study of 15 women with amenorrhea, 65% had resumed a menstrual cycle by the sixth month of use. Progesterone levels also increased.  Because Vitex promotes ovulation, it can bring on a period within two to three months. That said, it does not work for everyone, and each person’s time using it could be different.

Irregular menstruation:

Vitex has been shown to help balance both an absent menstrual cycle as well as aid a menstrual cycle that is heavy or too frequent.

PMS:

The current literature supports the use of chasteberry for cyclical breast discomfort and premenstrual syndrome.  Numerous double-blind randomized controlled trials have evaluated different chasteberry preparations for treating the symptoms of PMS.  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.  In clinical trials for the treatment of PMS, chasteberry reduced some symptoms;  particularly breast pain or tenderness, edema, constipation, irritability, depressed mood, anger, and headache.(7)

It is suggested that Vitex can be used anytime hormonal levels/rhythm have become imbalanced:

  • Following usage of birth control medication or trauma to the reproductive system
  • Recuperating from cervical issues
  • PMS
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Irregular, too frequent, suppressed, or absent (amenorrhea) menstrual cycles
  • Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
  • Endometriosis
  • Menopausal difficulties
  • Infertility
  • Insufficient lactation
  • Breast pain (mastalgia);
  • Acne (especially as a result of hormonal balance issues, as in teenagers)
  • Yeast infections
  • Candida imbalance

Regarding its use in treating PMS and its symptoms, Steven Foster says the following in illustration of chasteberry’s efficacy,

 

“A 1992 survey of German gynecologists evaluated the effect of a vitex preparation on 1,542 woman diagnosed with PMS. Both physicians and patients assessed effectiveness, with 90 percent reporting relief of symptoms after treatment averaging 25.3 days,” (Foster II, 98).

 

In another study they found comparable efficacy for chasteberry and vitaminB6, both of which decreased {PMS} symptoms by almost 50 percent. Three open trials, involving between 400 and 1,600 patients also showed significant improvement of various PMS symptoms.  In Germany, physicians prescribe the herb for luteal phase disorders.

 

“According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, this herb contains naturally occurring hormones including progesterone, testosterone and androstenedione as well as compounds such as flavonoids, volatile oils and alkaloids. These potent medicinal ingredients are thought to help balance the effects of surging hormones during the menstrual cycle that cause bleeding and abdominal cramping.” livestrong.com

 

  • Available evidence suggests chasteberry may be an effective treatment option for high prolactin levels and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It has also been used in studies concerning corpus luteum deficiency / luteal phase deficiency, cyclical breast pain, female sexual dysfunction, fertility, irregular menstrual cycles, menopause, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Further study is warranted.
  • Clinical trials have also found that treatment with chasteberry has been well tolerated with minimal side effects.

Uterine cysts:

Vitex has been found to be helpful at reducing cysts that are growing within the smooth muscle layer of the uterus.

Stabilization of menstruation after stopping birth-control pills:

After discontinuing estrogen-containing birth control pills, Vitex taken for several months has been shown to help stabilize the cycle and induce ovulation more quickly.

Reduces advancement of mild endometriosis:

Vitex is used in Germany by gynecologists to treat mild endometriosis and prevent it from advancing.

May help prevent miscarriage:

Vitex has a beneficial impact on progesterone levels. If miscarriages are due to low progesterone, Vitex may help to normalize or increase progesterone levels. Vitex may be considered safe to use during pregnancy, but make sure to consult with a healthcare practitioner before using this herb during pregnancy.

 

CAN VITEX BE USED FOR PCOS OR ANNOVULATION?

PCOS is said to respond well to diet and lifestyle changes, therefore, those should be primary protocols in those experiencing PCOS.  If ovulation normalizes through dietary changes, it could be worth it to look at your progesterone levels and see if there are any luteal phase problems.  If you have PCOS it may actually worsen things.  Chasteberry may raise LH (luteinizing hormone), which is a hormone that is already too high in some types of PCOS.

 

Recommended Dosage and Preparations

*Be sure to check with your health care professional before starting any new supplement*

I have gathered information from various sources regarding the recommended dosage and preparation of chasteberry.  This is just a general guide – it is best for you to verify this information for your situation and formulate a personal plan and the correct dosage for use of chasteberry with your health professional.

 

 

Vitex is generally recommended as best to take in the morning on an empty stomach, 1/2 hour before breakfast.  This is when progesterone levels are naturally the highest in order to work within a woman’s circadian rhythms and your pituitary is the most receptive.

 

Preparation:
Most commonly, a tincture of the berries is used.  Alcohol extracts the constituents from the plant so tinctures are going to be your best bet. The tincture is chemically synthesized into a molecular structure that is identical to real human progesterone.  Personally, we use capsules and have seen great results.

 

General Directions for use:

If Vitex is being used as part of an herbal blend containing other herbs, use as directed on the bottle.

Capsules: 900mg – 1,000mg a day is the suggested amount to use. Take vitex all month long.

Tincture: 60-90 drops in water or juice, first thing in the morning. All month long.

 

Adults (18 years and older):

  • Dosage of the fruit extract is 20 to 40 mg per day,2,15 although higher doses (up to 1,800 mg per day) also have been used.4 Fluid extract (40 drops daily)4 and tincture (35 to 45 drops, three times daily) also have been used.5
  • Some experts recommend taking chasteberry on an empty stomach in the morning for the best benefits. However, no studies have confirmed this finding.
  • For corpus luteum deficiency / luteal phase deficiency,  40 drops of a chasteberry extract has been taken by mouth daily for six months, and 15 drops has been taken by mouth three times daily for six weeks.
  • For cyclical breast pain,  30 drops Vitex agnus castus extract solution (VACS) has been taken by mouth twice daily for four cycles.
  • For hyperprolactinemia,  40-160 milligrams of a chasteberry extract has been taken by mouth up to three times daily in men.
  • For irregular menstrual cycles, 15 drops of a chasteberry extract has been taken by mouth three times daily over several cycles.
  • For premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), chasteberry extract has been taken by mouth for two months (dosage unknown). 40mg of chasteberry has been taken by mouth daily for two months.
  • For premenstrual syndrome (PMS), 4-1,800 milligrams of chasteberry powder taken by mouth once to three times daily for up to three months or three menstrual cycles has been found to be effective.  40 drops of a chasteberry solution has been mixed in one glass of fruit juice and taken by mouth once daily before breakfast starting six days before menstruation and lasting until menstruation occurred for six consecutive cycles.
  • Unlike powerful hormone drugs, vitex works slowly to normalize the body. Maximum benefits are often achieved after 6-12 cycles with vitex.

Children (younger than 18 years):

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for chasteberry in children.
  • Vitex for girls younger than 18 is not recommended. Because their pituitary-ovarian communication is still developing, it is best not to disturb it. Be aware that the pituitary-ovarian communication could possibly be already disturbed due to Pill use at a young age.  In this case, it may be wise to consider talking to your health professional about using the herb to treat stubborn post-Pill amenorrhea.

 

The dosages and preparations of chasteberry used in different clinical trials vary widely. In many studies, 4 mg per day of an extract standardized to 6 percent of the constituent agnuside has been used. In the United States, this formulation is available as Femaprin from Nature’s Way.

 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR IT TO HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT ON THE BODY?

It normally takes about 3 months to see any changes due to vitex.  As it is a fantastic herb for a range of issues as mentioned earlier, but it requires patience and consistency of use.

“It is probably safe to take Vitex for longer than six months, but you should not need to take it that long.  If Vitex is the right treatment for you, it will work within the first three or four months. You can then stop it, and still maintain your ovulations and healthy periods with diet and other supplements…. After a month or two break, you can return to the herb, if you felt better on it.” Lara Briden

My research and personal experience find that it works best when used all month long (with a 5 day break at day 25 or at the start of menstruation as described below) and taken as one dose in the morning on an empty stomach.

SHOULD YOU TAKE IT THROUGHOUT YOUR WHOLE CYCLE, OR JUST POST-OVULATION?

Kelly LeGendre, the creator of The Fertility Fix program, has most of her patients use chastetree during the luteal phase or last half of the cycle (from ovulation until the first day of your period).

Dr. Lara Briden says not to take it for long stretches at a time.  She says that Vitex is the most effective during the first three to six months of using it, and using it much longer than that can cause its effect on the pituitary gland to start to diminish.

Because it works to promote ovulation, you should take Vitex in the first part of your cycle before ovulation, during your follicular phase (and continue until the first day of your period). If you don’t have regular periods, then just pulse the dose as described below:

Take a five-day break from the herb every month. If you have regular periods, then take five days off from the first day of your period. If you don’t have regular periods, then she recommends dosing 25 days on/5 days off, then take another five days off from the first day of your period. This pulsed-dosing prevents attenuation of the herb’s effect on the pituitary.

 

Other clinical research shows that Vitex may start working within 10 days, but full benefits may not be experienced until 6 months or longer. For PMS, results are normally seen by the second menstrual cycle, but for lasting changes it may need to be taken for up to a year or more depending on how long the imbalance has been present.

 

Safety, Precautions & Side Effects

In clinical trials, side effects have been reported in fewer than 2 percent of patients,” (Foster II, 99).  Vitex has been used for over 2,000 years with no significant side-effects reported. Some minor and infrequent side-effects (1-2% of users may experience) have been nausea, gastrointestinal upset, skin reactions, and headache. Women with a history of depression taking Vitex for menstrual irregularity may experience an exacerbation of depressive symptoms.

Even though it has been shown to have no interference with oral contraceptives (birth control), due to limited research, Vitex should not be used in conjunction with prescription medications that contain hormones in case it may interfere with their activity.  Some women do experience a shift in their cycle when they first begin using Vitex. The length of the menstrual cycle may shorten or lengthen temporarily before it finally stabilizes. This is just the body balancing itself out and is completely normal.

  • Don’t take chasteberry too soon after stopping the birth control pill                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Beware of taking Vitex too soon after stopping the use of the birth control pill – it is too strong for that. When you first stop using the Pill, the idea is to allow your pituitary and your ovaries to communicate with each other for the first time in years (or decades as was in my case).  It is important to start gently by allowing for the slow start to your newly re-found ovulation communication system.  A strong pituitary herb could potentially confuse everything before you give your ovaries a chance to do what they should do. A well-versed Functional Medical doctor would most likely be able to help you as you come off the Pill.

Chasteberry is usually well tolerated, with only minor adverse effects reported; in many studies these effects are similar to placebo. Side effects generally are dopaminergic (“releasing or involving dopamine as a neurotransmitter”) in nature and may include mild gastrointestinal complaints, dizziness, headache, tiredness, and dry mouth.6,10,11,2931  . .

 

Safety Ratings

  • German Commission E has approved the use of Vitex for menstrual cycle irregularities, premenstrual disturbances, and breast pain.
  • The Botanical Safety Handbook has categorized Vitex as a class 1 herb. Class 1 herbs are herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Chasteberry may interact with antiandrogens, antibiotics, antidepressants, antipsychotics, birth control agents, bromocriptine, diuretics (increase urine production), dopamine agonists and antagonists, hormonal agents, hormone replacement therapy, and metoclopramide.
  • Don’t combine with fertility drugs or IVF
    Combining Vitex with ovulation-stimulating drugs can result in a serious condition called ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome.
  • There are no reported drug interactions with chasteberry, but given its dopaminergic effects, the herb could theoretically interfere with the actions of medications for Parkinson’s disease, such as bromocriptine (Parlodel) and metoclopramide (Reglan).10,11

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Chasteberry may interact with antiandrogens, antibacterials, antidepressants, antipsychoitcs, birth control herbs and supplements, diuretics (increase urine production), dopamine agonists and antagonists, herbs and supplements for hormonal replacement therapy, and hormonal herbs and supplements.

 

(This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

After researching for months, we decided to try chasteberry as part of the final phase of recovering seizure activity related to hormones (Catamenial Epilepsy).  We had exhausted all other avenues to recover – stress management, dietary changes and optimizing where needed with supplements before adding Vitex, because we wanted to make sure that all the ‘footings’ of health were strong and in place.  I can report that we saw changes immediately.  Ovulation has been restored, the menstrual cycle has been regulated and is ‘normal’ for the first time in 8 years, and to this day, my daughter is seizure free.

 

I am not a doctor. The information in this article and on this website is for informational and educational purposes. Much of the information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.  Be sure to talk to your health professional before starting any new treatment or supplement.

http://natural-fertility-info.com/progesterone-fertility-guide

http://www.naturesfoodpatch.com/ns/DisplayMonograph.asp?StoreID=a5pjlp3me3s92n5800akhlbd34ws3rl1&DocID=bottomline-chasteberry

http://www.naturesfoodpatch.com/ns/DisplayMonograph.asp?storeID=a5pjlp3me3s92n5800akhlbd34ws3rl1&DocID=chasteberry

http://www.naturalalternativeremedy.com/chasteberry-benefits-and-side-effects/

https://draxe.com/vitex/

https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/vitex-agnus-castus-menstrual-cycle

https://wellnessmama.com/8314/vitex-herb-profile/

http://www.clinicians.co.nz/chaste-tree-benefits-for-irregular-periods/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/283513-how-to-take-chasteberry-during-menstruation/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23136064 –   benefits for Vitex extracts in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and latent hyperprolactinaemia.

http://www.healthy.net/Health/Article/Epilepsy/2882

http://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/0901/p821.html

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