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Vitex pour la fertilité et la conception

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) is a beautiful shrub with delightful blue flowers, growing in the spontaneous flora in Greece and Italy. It is also known as Chasteberry, monk’s pepper or Abraham's balm. Its fruit have been used for centuries in traditional medicine based on medicinal plants. It is considered one of the most popular European plants to help gynaecological imbalances.

Aside from its traditional used, numerous modern clinical trials have proven its remarkable capacity for restoring hormonal balance, an imperative condition for fertility. However, Vitex does not contain hormones, instead it has a mild, non-aggressive effect on the body. It does not act directly, but supports the body. Chasteberry is considered one of the most useful plants when it comes to supporting fertility.

How Vitex acts

In our current accepted meaning, Vitex has a supporting and regulating effect on the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland (or hypophysis) is considered the most important endocrine gland, as it controls numerous vital functions, including sending chemical signals to the ovaries, so as to regulate their hormonal secretion. This communication is known as the endocrine feedback loop.

Scientific studies conducted to research Vitex have shown that:

  • It inhibits the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): Vitex increases the luteinising hormone (LH) secretion, which, in turn, increases progesterone secretion.
  • It extends a short luteal phase: although the plant does not contain any kind of hormones, it has been proven that Vitex promotes the luteinising hormone production in the body, stimulating ovulation. LH then increases progesterone levels during the luteal phase of the cycle.
  • It increases progesterone levels: it has been shown that Vitex promotes the formation of the corpus luteum, which is in charge of the progesterone secretion. In a study conducted on 45 women, 86% responded positively, with normalised or significantly improved progesterone levels.
  • It reduces the advancing of medium endometriosis: in Germany, Vitex is used by gynaecologists to treat endometriosis in its medium phases and to prevent the advancing of the condition.
  • It may prevent miscarriage: if miscarriages are due to low progesterone levels, Vitex may normalise these levels. It is considered that using the plant during pregnancy is safe, but see a specialist before you use it while pregnant. Furthermore, read the paragraph “Using Vitex during pregnancy” below.
  • It relieves PMS (premenstrual syndrome): clinical trials have shown that Vitex can be very effective in treating PMS, particularly for depression, headache, skin rashes, acne, allergies and breast tenderness. In a trial, after one month of Vitex treatment, PMS was shown to have been reduced in 32% of the patients. After three months of treatment, 84% of the patients felt an improvement in their premenstrual symptoms.
  • Lack of menstruation (amenorrhea): in a clinical trial, after six months of treatment, 10 of 15 patients with amenorrhea (65%) have resumed their menstrual cycles. It has also been shown that their progesterone levels had increased.
  • Irregular menstruation: it has been shown that Vitex helps balance the lack of menstrual cycles, and regulate heavier or more frequent ones.
  • Uterine cysts: Vitex was shown to help reduce cysts growing in the smooth muscle layers of the uterus.
  • Stabilisation of menstruation after going off birth control: after women have stopped taking oestrogen birt control pills, a Vitex treatment of a few months determines the stabilisation of the cycle and induces ovulation more quickly.
  • It stimulates lactation in new mothers: for over 2000 years, Vitex has been used to stimulate lactation in new mothers. Start using Vitex as soon as you have given birth and continue for 10 days or more, if necessary.
  • Acne: a few trials have shown an improvement in the skin appearance after using Vitex. When accompanied by the proper diet changes, a Vitex treatment may fight acne.

Most hormonal problems that disappear when you get pregnant and return after you stop breastfeeding can be solved by using Vitex.

How Vitex is used

For the best results, Vitex should be taken in the long term. Clinical research shows that the Vitex action may begin after ten days of administration, but the maximum benefits may only be reached after a course of treatment of six or more months. In premenstrual syndrome, results are noticeable starting with the following cycle, but for durable changes you may have to take Vitex for another year or more, depending on the duration of the imbalance.

Vitex makes fundamental changes in the delicate chemistry in the body; this is why it takes time to show its effects. As it is a plant that balances and feeds the body, it works backstage, delicately realigning the balance. As opposed to a chemically synthesised drug, which forces changes in the body, Vitex supports the systems and restores balance for longer periods.

Does Vitex work for everyone?

Vitex is usually effective in most adult women of childbearing age (from 18 years old to perimenopause).

However, there are cases where it may have no effect at all. Persons who have a less than ideal lifestyle will probably not experience the entire potential of the plant. For women with low energy resources or a weakened immune system, those who eat mainly processed foods, those who have undergone long-term antibiotic or steroid treatments, diet and lifestyle changes are required before they begin to take Vitex. Without these changes, Vitex will not be effective.

Perimenopause is the period before menopause. This period usually begins around the age of 40. As perimenopause progresses to menopause, the menstrual cycle normally becomes irregular, and hormonal levels fluctuate. As the ovarian reserves are exhausted and the egg health declines, FSH levels may rise. For some women, Vitex may help maintain the regularity of cycles and decrease FSH levels, although this wonderful plant cannot reverse the aging process. It may or may not be helpful for women at perimenopause; each of them is different. And Vitex will definitely not restore the menstrual cycle in women who have gone past menopause.

Safety and collateral effects

The plant has been used for over 2000 years without any significant side effects being reported. A few minor collateral effects (experienced by 1-2% of the users) were nausea, intestinal problems, dermatologic reactions and headache. In women with a history of depression, Vitex intake for cycle regulation may exacerbate the symptoms of depression.

Although it has been proven that it does not interfere with oral contraceptives, due to insufficient research, Vitex should not be used together with drugs containing hormones, as it may interfere with their activity.

Some women notice changes in their menstrual cycle as soon as they start using Vitex. The length of the cycle may decrease or increase temporarily before stabilising. These changes are completely normal and are due to the processes the body is going through to restore its balance.

Safety classifications

  • · The German Commission E (Die Komission E) has approved the use of Vitex for menstrual cycle disorders, premenstrual symptoms and mastodynia.
  • · The Botanical Safety Handbook has categorised Vitex as a class 1 herb. Class 1 herbs are herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately.

Using Vitex during pregnancy

The German research has shown that Vitex can be safely taken until the end of the third month of pregnancy and it may prevent miscarriage. It is also considered that Vitex intake is safe after the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, but it is believed that it may stimulate lactation too early, which is why it should not be taken beyond the third month. Furthermore, during this month, the placenta takes over progesterone production and Vitex will most likely not be necessary anymore.

If you decide to use Vitex during pregnancy, we suggest you see a phytotherapist or a midwife for guiding and supervision.