Chaste Tree / Vitex
The basic mechanism of action underlying agnus castus is its effect on enhancing corpus luteal development (thereby correcting a relative progesterone deficiency) via effects through the pituitary gland. Agnus castus has a profound effect on the hypothalamus and on pituitary function, helping normalise other hormones and reducing both prolactin and the estrogen-to-progesterone ratio.
- PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME - Many PMS sufferers exhibit elevated prolactin levels, especially in women experiencing breast pain or fibrocystic breast disease. Studies in PMS sufferers using agnus castus have shown up to ninety percent having improvement or resolution of symptoms.
- MENSTRUATION DISORDERS - Agnus castus has demonstrated effectiveness in aiding menstruation disorders including; secondary amenorrhoea, metorrhagia, lengthened and shortened cycles, especially when due to progesterone deficiency.
- ANTI-MICROBIAL ACTIVITY - Extracts of agnus castus have shown antimicrobial activity against a broad range of organisms including; staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, E. coli, and candida albicans. This may offer additional benefits, as dysbiosis is a common problem and may aggravate existing menstrual disorders.
- INFERTILITY - Research suggests that agnus castus can enhance corpus luteal functioning, thus lengthening the luteal phase and normalising progesterone levels often found to be low in infertile women.
- INFLUENCE ON LACTATION - Studies have shown favourable effects in aiding milk production (up to three times that of control group), after 20 days of use.
- ACNE - Controlled studies have shown that agnus castus may offer benefit to acne sufferers, most likely due to a mild anti-androgenic effect.
200-600mg daily, standardised to contain 0.6 percent acubin. It is common practice for agnus castus to be taken as a single dose each morning (throughout the cycle) before food to assist with hormonal regulation. May be used long term within normal dosage range.
Conditions where unopposed estrogen plays a role, such as: fibroids, endometriosis, follicular ovarian cysts and some menopausal conditions. Also useful in conditions where raised prolactin (hyperprolactinaemia) levels are implicated i.e. breast cysts, fibrocystic breast disease, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Mastalgia (painful breasts) sufferers may also benefit.
Agnus castus is preferably not to be taken in conjunction with progesterone drugs, the contraceptive pill or HRT. Chaste tree may aggravate pure spasmodic dysmenorrhoea not associated with PMS.
None known, but caution is suggested in those using dopamine receptor antagonists.
Use in conjunction with
Vitamin B6 and zinc have also been shown to help lower prolactin levels. EFA's, Ca/Mg/Zn, B complex, milk thistle, spirulina can offer benefits through assisting liver function, hormonal balance, and optimising fatty acid metabolism.
© Cheryl Thallon at Viridian