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How Vitex Works
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, telling them how much hormones to make. This communication is known as the hormonal feedback loop.
Vitex has been shown in studies to:
Vitex is one of the best fertility herbs available to us when it comes to balancing hormones and regulating the menstrual cycle.
Inhibit follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): Vitex increases the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH), which in turn increases progesterone.
Lengthens 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.
Increased 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.
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 when using this herb during pregnancy. Also make sure to read our ‘Use During Pregnancy’ section below.
Relieves 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.
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.
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.
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.
Helps stimulate milk production in new mothers: For over 2,000 years Vitex has been used to help stimulate mother’s milk. Begin using Vitex right after birth and continue for 10 days or more as needed.
Acne: Several studies have shown an improvement in the skin with the use of Vitex. Along with appropriate diet changes Vitex may help acne.
Most hormone related issues that disappear once pregnancy begins and then return after breastfeeding ends can be supported by the use of Vitex.
How to Use Vitex
For optimal results Vitex should be taken long-term. 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.
Vitex is making fundamental changes in the delicate chemistry of the body, this is why it takes 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 bringing about long term balance.