Vitex Agnus-Castus (also called Chasteberry or Chaste Tree) is a supplement that I first took in my early twenties with great success to clear my premenstrual acne. If you have typically low progesterone in your luteal phase (between ovulation and bleeding) and/or premenstrual symptoms, then it’s likely that Chasteberry will help to clear your acne.
What is Vitex Agnus Castus?
Vitex is a flowering plant that is native to the Mediterranean region. The berries are the part that is used as a medicinal herb, mainly as a tonic for both the male and female reproductive system.
Nobody really knows how Vitex works, but we do know that it helps to raise the levels of natural progesterone in a woman that’s deficient. In fact it is the best and most efficient method for raising progesterone in pre-menopausal women.
How to take Vitex
The most important thing to know when taking Vitex is that it does take a while to kick in – you will likely need to wait 3-4 months as a minimum before you start to notice the effects.
There are many different brands around the world, in both tincture and tablet form, so find one that is local to you and one that is highly recommended with good reviews online. I take a brand from New Zealand called Premular which was recommended to me by a naturopath in Australia some years ago. With that particular brand I need to just take one tablet every morning at around the same time.
Vitex works better with essential fatty acids (EFAs)
I have had the most success with Vitex when I’ve coupled it with good quality EFAs, and plenty of them. Typically the combo is evening primrose oil and fish oil, but if you’re vegan or vegetarian you can change the fish oil to an alternative like hemp seed oil.
It’s not that Vitex technically “works better” with EFAs, it’s more that if we are suffering from premenstrual symptoms (PMS), EFAs often help too. So combined together you’re being a lot more active with tackling the problem.
Evening primrose oil in particular aids in the production of fertile quality cervical fluid, has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to alleviate premenstrual symptoms. If you suffer from PMS, then it’s likely that you’re deficient in the EFA properties contained in evening primrose oil.
If taking evening primrose oil, only take it in the follicular phase of your cycle – between bleeding and ovulation. If you are not sure when you ovulate then stop taking it on day 14 of your cycle. And do not take this supplement if you are pregnant.
Vitex Agnus-Castus side effects
While I have never experienced any side effects from taking Vitex, I have had a few women in recent consultations complain about side effects in the early stages of taking the supplement. Listed side effects of Vitex are minor and rare, but in my personal opinion I’m finding that some women are experiencing what appears to be a “reshuffling” of their hormones in the early stages of taking it. This can be moodiness, nausea, loss of libido and headaches. It is likely that these side effects will pass, but if you’re unsure or they’re really bad you can get a kineseology test to check in if you have an allergy or intolerance to the plant.
If you are experiencing strong side effects from Vitex and you want to stop taking it, then you can get pretty much the same effects from taking a combination of magnesium, zinc and B6.
Do not take Vitex Agnus-Castus is pregnant or on the contraceptive pill. Also please check in with your doctor or natural therapist if you’re on any psychoactive drugs.