From PMS To Menopause: Vitex May Be Your Next Best Friend

Also known as chaste tree berry, vitex produces beautiful flowers and deep blue berries

Headaches, bloating, moodiness, breast tenderness – if you’re a women you’ve experienced at least one of these symptoms, and chances are it’s been related to PMS, perimenopause or menopause.

Or, perhaps for you it’s acne (or some other skin weirdness), backaches, cramping, sudden cravings for apple fritters (or cheetos), or uncontrollable urges to burst into tears at inopportune moments.

A woman’s hormones can grab a stranglehold on both her emotions and physical well being at any age. But those years known as ‘perimenopause’ can be the most challenging.

At least when we’re younger and cycling regularly we kind of know what to expect:  Grumpy and emotional during the week before. Must have chocolate in the house for those first few days. Feeling sexy a week after the period ends….it’s different for each of us, but every woman has their own personal cyclical symptoms.

And then we hit perimenopause and it all starts to get a little crazy on us.

Whoa….wait a second, the grumpiness lasted two weeks and just went away with no period. What the….?

Yeah, welcome to the perimenopausal phase of life. Joyfully lasting a decade or more, hormones gone haywire keep us guessing (and crying) year after year.

The good news is that all of this can be managed (to a degree) with mindful health and lifestyle choices. From the foods we eat, to the activities we engage in – we can gain a modicum of control over an uncontrollable fit of nature.

For me, medicinal herbs are one of my first go-to measures whenever anything gets out of balance. And today I want to introduce one you might have heard of:  Vitex.

You may know this popular plant as chaste tree berry – so named for its legendary as an ‘anti-aphrodisiac” by monks during the Middle Ages. It was also called ‘monk’s pepper’, and whether it achieved its purpose in suppressing the sex drives of men of the cloth remains in question.

Some modern research suggests that vitex actually stimulates the female libido. Most experts today don’t claim vitex to have any noticeable action on sex drive.

What it does do for women is enhance certain hormones and inhibit others. Taken regularly this herb has a powerful effect on the endocrine glands.

So whether you’re battling the PMS blues, or – like me – alternating between hot flashes and menstrual cramps, vitex just may provide the relief you crave.

But it’s not a quick fix. Like many herbs, vitex doesn’t act like ibuprofen, providing nearly instant relief of symptoms. This  herb has been shown to be most effective as a slow-acting tonic. Vitex (or chaste tree) offers a gentle and indirect normalization of the hormones of the reproductive system.

Most women notice results after taking it daily for two or three months. And then of course you have to keep taking it (for at least a year) to experience continued enjoyment of its effects (AKA relief of those freaky symptoms that plague you!)

Why Is Vitex Up Next For Me?

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I pinned a lot of hope on the plant Maca to relieve my sudden onset of hot flashes and night sweats. I wrote about it a few weeks ago, and in order to tell if it was working or not, I resolved to stick to Maca, and Maca only, for at least two weeks.

And the good news is in! Maca is incredible.

The several-times-a-day hot flashes have subsided, the night sweats are giving me a much-needed break, and I’m even noticing some increased lubrication down there in that crucial area! So – Woot Woot for Maca! I didn’t even have to give up wine – something I was dreading.

Now, it’s totally possible I will be revisited with more hot flashy fun as my menopause progresses, but for now I’m cheering. And drinking those Maca smoothies (or taking the capsules) every single day.

But, now that the dryness and hot and cold episodes have subsided, it’s hello pelvic cramping!

It’s been almost three  months since my last moon (an unheard of turn of events for me – but that’s perimonepause!) About a month ago I battled PMS-style cramps for more than two weeks. But instead of my period we moved right on to aforementioned hot flash city.

Now – here it is again. The cramping, the mood swings, all the symptoms of an impending period – except the actual period. Based on my research, I think of all the menopause herbs, vitex might just be the one to bring some semblance of balance here.

I’ve known about this herb for years of course – and recommended it to many women. But somehow I never got on the program myself. I can be my own non-compliant patient that way. I need enough pain to push me into actually following a therapeutic protocol.

Or motivation, or discipline – something.

Now that I’ve read up for this article and refreshed my memory on the many medicinal and magical powers of this little bitter berry, I’ve got my motivation back!

I hadn’t realized till now that the vitex bush is native to the Greek islands where it was considered sacred to the goddess Hera, protecter of married woman & mothers. I wonder if those ancient Greek women sailed through their menopause and barely felt a cramp because of this plant ally growing in their midst?

Dried chaste tree (vitex) berries can be ground into a powder and made into tea, tincture or capsules

I also discovered that for some women vitex works even better for hot flashes than black cohosh – an herb much better known to treat that particular annoyance.

With its myriad of  benefits, vitex just jumped up and waved at me, wanting to be picked as my next remedy in this personal menopausal herbs experiment.

An Ally For A Variety Of  Symptoms

Vitex promotes the rebalancing of hormone signals between the brain and the ovaries. It increases ratio of progesterone to estrogen, while reducing prolactin –  which is one of the reasons why it can be a panacea for PMS.

Some researchers theorize that vitex specifically influences luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) – both of which are higher during menopause.

This sends a message to the hypothalamus and pituitary glands to normalize hormone secretion, thus reducing those ‘hormones gone haywire’ crazy-making symptoms.

Because of its ability to increase progesterone levels while decreasing estrogen, vitex is a gentler alternative to try before resorting to pharmaceutical-grade progesterone supplements or creams.

Additionally, this plant is known to relieve chronic menstrual cramping, can reduce or eliminate endometriosis and uterine fibroids, and lessen the severity of breast tenderness and lumps. Stick with vitex and you’re likely to experience relief from bloating and water retention, migraines and depression related to PMS, and hormonal acne. Even skin issues caused by allergies can respond to vitex.

If you’re menopausal and struggling with digestive drama such as constipation, vitex can be your rescuer here as well. For some women the muscular movements of the digestive tract slow during this time, and vitex addresses such hormone-related sluggishness.

As if all that weren’t enough, it’s also reputed to protect against osteporosis and even some reproductive cancers. Used regularly it can restore lubrication to dry vaginal tissues

How To Take Vitex

The medicinal part of the vitex plant –as its other common name implies – is the berry. But this ain’t no sweet and yummy berry, and I won’t be adding it to my morning smoothie. Vitex is as bitter as they come.

And I know myself – if I try to drink the one recommended cup of vitex tea a day I will end up discovering a nearly full cup of forgotten tea, with only a sip or two taken out of it. I could choke down a cup of the cool tea but I think I shall resort to other means.

I’m starting off with some capsules, but that’s going to get expensive so I’ll be making up a big ole’ batch of the tincture with the dried berries. Another alternative would be to make up my own caps with the dried and freshly powdered berries – but that is freaking tedious and I don’t watch enough movies to pass the time while I laboriously make up my own capsules.

Where To Get It & How Much Do You Need

Gaia Herbs makes a high quality vitex capsule

Health food stores carry a variety of vitex supplements from capsules to tincture. And you can purchase the dried berries in bulk from any good herb shop. Since you need to stick with vitex for a while to get results, it’s best to order or buy it in the largest quantity you can afford.

You can order vitex berries by the pound at Moonrise Herbs, or Mountain Rose – or stock up on large bottles of tincture or capsules.

If you’re the green thumb sort, and you have some space in your yard, why not plant a vitex bush or two? Then you can dry you own berries and powder them up for tinctures or capsules. It’s an attractive shrub with large leaves and small black berries. Check your favorite nursery supplier for Vitex agnus-castus.

Once you’ve got your stash of vitex, follow these guidelines for dosage:

Take 20-30 drops (about one full dropperful) of the tincture 1-2 times per day, or 3-6 capsules twice per day. If you’re willing to brave the tea you’ll want to slug down at least one cup each day made with the powdered berries. Use a heaping teaspoon per cup.

If you don’t notice any change in symptoms after a couple of months on your vitex protocol, don’t give up! Increase your dosage to the maximum recommended. Remember this is a slow-acting therapy and, to use an annoying cliché – patience is a virtue!

 

Vitex plant photo credit: Tatters

 

How about you? Have you tried vitex for PMS or perimenopausal symptoms? What’s your favorite way to take it? Please share in comments – your input is so valued – by me and all the other readers!

 

 

62 Responses to From PMS To Menopause: Vitex May Be Your Next Best Friend

  1. My favorite way to take Vitex is to slip it into my girlfriends tea, and then mask it with some honey and cinnamon 😉

    • LOL! I love it! You are a smart man Amit! And she is a lucky woman.

  2. I’ve taken vitex capsules for years. I started when I was 38 or 39 to increase my luteal phase so I could conceive. My luteal phase did increase and I did conceive when I was 40. There was more to my infertility than just that (blocked tube), but the vitex may have been a factor in allowing me to conceive.

    Now, 10 years later, my cycles are getting very long and erratic, but still no hot flashes, night sweats, etc. Either it’s the vitex or I’m just lucky (so far, anyway).

    I did use to have mood swings and anxiety that felt hormonal, but after taking the vitex for a while, that went away. When I went off vitex, what do you know if the moodiness didn’t come back? I’m a believer.

    I started with two capsules in the morning for about three months and then cut back to one. It’s very inexpensive, too.

    • Wow, what a great testimonial to the efficacy of vitex, Sue! I definitely think your regular intake of vitex over the last decade has helped regulate/prevent menopausal symptoms. That’s why I’m kicking myself for not starting on it sooner. I could have used it for PMS years ago! I’m curious about what brand you use as well. I guess if you only take one capsule a day, that does keep the price down.

      Thanks for the informative comment!

      • I’m pretty sure I use Nature’s Way brand. It’s about 5 bucks for 60 capsules, I think. About $2.50 a month!

        • Thanks Sue. Good to know! It sounds like vitex is not so much of an investment after all then.

  3. Sarah, I’m just curious: How do you know that these herbs are safe? I’m always a bit skeptical about taking things that aren’t FDA-regulated (which is ridiculous because the FDA screws up so much), so what is your criteria for assessing safety with Vitex and Maca? Thanks for your response because I am DEFINITELY not in the know on these things!

    • It’s always a bit tricky to assess the safety of different herbs, Bobbi. I rely on studies and books and articles created by scientists and other experts. Also, some herbs have a history of safe usage stretching back centuries, and personally that tells me more than the latest fad study. (The studies can contradict each other over the decades.)

      Each individual has to find their own level of comfort when using herbs. There is the FDA “GRAS” (Generally REcognized as Safe) list, and other references. However, some herbs can interact with drugs and medications so if a person is taking meds, it is usually best to check with their medical care provider before starting an herbal protocol. Unfortunately most doctors are not trained in herbal medicine (at least in the U.S.), and so many can’t help very much in that department.) There is also a PDR that outlines the possible interactions of many common herbs with different drugs.

      I usually write about herbs that have been established as safe to ingest for most people, however each individual should still listen to their own body, and discontinue use if they notice anything amiss.

      It’s a very complex subject that could take up a whole book, and I don’t know if I’m the one to write it. A good resource for scientific information on herbal medicine is the Herb Research Foundation.

      Thanks for the great question!

  4. Sarah, why must you keep putting all of these awesome supplements in front of me?! lol.. Whining aside, I really appreciate it! It’s making me seriously consider picking up the phone, calling the dreaded insurance company and getting to a naturopath.

    I’ve heard of Vitex in my forum-browsing for PCOS management, and apparently it’s worked WONDERS for many women. I’m not a doc though, so I suppose I’ll need one to help me figure out what all to take.. I’ll definitely have this on my list of supps to ask about when I go though. Thanks for the info! 🙂

    • C’mon Kaylee! What’s stopping you? PIck up that phone and get someone to work with you. It’ll be well worth wading through the insurance double-speak!

      There are so many herbs and other natural therapies that could seriously make a difference for you. Vitex just might be the one. You could try it and see – but best in your situation to get some qualified guidance. Thanks for reading!

  5. Well, I sure have had all of the above symptoms and then some, but I’ve never even heard of Vitex. It sounds intriguing. What kind of climate does it usually grow in?

    • Wow, Loran, I’m kind of surprised you haven’t come across a reference to chaste tree berry or vitex before.
      The chaste tree plant is quite hardy, but naturalizes in more southerly climates. I think it would grow almost anywhere in the U.S. except very high mountains or seriously snowy areas. IT might not last the winter there.

      And of course as noted, the capsules, tincture and dried berries are readily available for purchase. Thanks for reading, and so glad to be the one to turn you on to this great plant!

  6. So many good tips! I need to get on them now!
    I definitely could use Vitex and Maca, so the question is, is there a supplement that includes both or is it better to take separately?

    • There likely is a menopause combo supplement that includes both maca and vitex – but probably with some other herbs too. I don’t know one off the top of my head, but I’m sure a visit to your nearest health food store would present you with a plethora of options, Lori. But if you want to just try those two, you might need to get them each individually. The maca powder blends right into green drinks and smoothies, and I think it tastes fine. That is a very inexpensive way to use maca. Otherwise, caps aren’t too pricey.

  7. Hi Sarah…

    I am just so totally proud of you….As you may remember I have been perimenopausal for 18 years after undergoing a hysterectomy at aged 32…I have tried every lotion, cream, patches and pills (chemically based – yuck!)and am definately going to give this a go…I am however a little concerned as to whether it will work the same for me as women who still have their uterus and both ovaries. I only have the one ovary hence, the prolonged agonishing, debilitating suffering for all these years…I have suffered every symptom since the on-set including hot flushes, night crawls and sweats, mood-swings, bloating, weight gain, depression and the list goes on…I wish you well and will let you know how I progress…It may help you with other reader’s that may be in the same predicament as myself…Have I told you I am proud of you LOL….love your dear friend Tanya…xo

    • Thank you Tanya – for the visit and your comment and compliments!

      Wow – I am so sorry you’ve had to suffer through this for so many years. Early hysterectomies are very difficult for women. Yuck. I think that both maca and vitex would still be effective even with only one ovary, especially maca.

      Vitex and other herbal therapies might really surprise you with how well they work. I’ve seen many women be surprised when herbs worked better than all those chemicals! The key is to stick with it and be patient. Herbs like vitex take a while to take effect – it is a slow regulating effect on our hormones. It’s not too late to get started!

      I’ll be curious to hear how it all works out for you, so be sure to stay in touch and keep me posted!

  8. what about breakthrough bleeding? i am 47 and started taking it in the luteal phase day 18 after supplementing with estrogen patches for the first 14.

    pretty sure i did not ovulate this month. but today is cycle day 20 and i noticed a smear of brownish blood after going to the bathroom and i’m kind of feeling like i will be getting a period in the next few days.

    is it okay to take at my age?

    • Welcome to the blog, and thanks so much for your comment.

      I think you are asking if its okay to take vitex at your age and the answer would be – yes, definitely. The thing is you do need to take it just about every day, not just during certain phases of the cycle. I think the only way it would “affect” breakthrough bleeding is that it might regulate such occurrences. However, as we enter these menopausal years, we can expect all kinds of odd changes with the regularity/frequency/heaviness of our cycles. I’ve heard women describe just about every variation you could imagine. The vitex can help to keep our hormones on a more even keel while it’s all happening.

      If you are doing estrogen patches, it’s possible that could interfere with the much more mild action of the vitex though. But personally, if it were me, I would still give vitex a try.

      • I honestly believe by taking vitex put me in menopause when I was trying to conceive used it for three months like it stated after I went off I’ve had irregular periods night sweats boobs aching under armpits ect. everything that makes you think you are pregnant but not pregnant…. Same symptoms as menopause as well …..😢

  9. Sarah, I can’t wait to try this! I didn’t have much luck with maca — made me cramp. I have endometriosis, so have to be careful, but this sounds great. Definitely heading out to the health food store tomorrow and will keep you posted!

    • Oh, that’s too bad about the maca Debra. It’s the first report I’ve heard of someone having a negative reaction, so I will keep this in mind when talking about it to women with endometriosis. I know that many herbalists recommend vitex for that very condition so I have high hopes for you on this. Definitely keep me posted about how it works out, and remember to stick with it for a few months.

      Thanks for visiting the blog! Yours is one of my inspirations.

  10. Nice blog Sarah!
     
    I’ve had great success with natural progesterone cream for hot flashes. When they first started 18 months ago, I bought some of the cream and within one week, no more hot flashes.
     
    I kept using it but got a bit lazy about the frequency. And a few months ago the flashes came back. So I put my dose back to the recommended twice/day, and after 60 days (I logged it all!) they are completely gone again.
     
    It has also helped hugely with PMS symptoms–I don’t get cramping anymore.
     
    If I start to have problems again, I’ll look up Vitex and Maca, but for now I’m happy and don’t feel a need for anything else.
     
    PS.  http://natural-progesterone-advisory-network.com has a lot of articles (not well organised though). And there is a good book by John Lee M.D. on natural hormone balance.

    •  @LifeReview Yes, I’ve heard glowing reports about progesterone creams. After all, our progesterone levels dip way lower than our estrogen levels during perimenopause – so it makes sense. I was kind of working my way up – and starting with the milder stuff. So far, so good with the maca. I’m pretty thrilled with the excellent results. But I do know that inevitably this thing will kick up a notch and i may be looking for the progesterone cream. And I definitely plan to write at least one article about it for this series. Emerita is the brand we sold in at Moonrise Herbs – what brand do you use? And we did have the John Lee book in the store too. I’ll have to try to find it again now that I’m finding some personal relevance!
       
      So glad you’re enjoying the blog and this post! Thanks for visiting!

      •  @saraho  @LifeReview 
        Sorry about the Username change confusion. I don’t know where “LifeReview” came from !?
         
        The brand of progesterone cream I’m using is “Metabolic Maintenance”. I’ve tried one other brand (Life Flo Health) and didn’t like it as much–a bit greasy. For effectiveness, the USP certified ones should be all the same. But the fragrance and texture vary, and I recommend a brand with a pump pack or other way of providing a measured dose.
         
        Thanks again for the info on Maca and Vitex!

  11. I have been taking Vitex in tincture form at 2.5mls (half a teaspoon) every morning for nearly three months. I can’t tell you what an enormous difference it has made to my life. I am a 50 year old with a good diet and regular exercise but I had been suffering a raft of unpleasant symptoms as a result of perimenopause. These included horrendous mood swings -I mean great typhoonigator rages,cry you a river blues, constant and embarrassing brain fades, aching body, fluid retention, frequent headaches and occassional migrane, insomnia, night sweats and weight gain. All of this and I was still getting my periods regularly until the month before last when I had my first skipped period. After doing heaps of reading online I found out about vitex, sourced it and commenced taking it. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!
    I think that it took about a month before I really noticed a change. But hand on heart, I haven’t been tempted to throw anything for ages, my husband says he feels that he has the old me back and he no longer feels the need to creep about the place in fear of upsetting me. In short my mood swings have completely vanished. The fluid retention has become way less of an issue and I also think my metabolism has revved up again. I have lost weight and while I’m still getting headaches,they are way less severe. Brain fades still occur but nothing like they were, the insomnia has improved out of sight and overall I just feel happier, calmer and human again. I have also been taking magnesium and this may well be contributing -especially to the improvement with sleep.The one thing I have noticed however, has been a decline in my libido. I know this is another common issue for us “Women of a Certain Age”, but I wonder if the Vitex may be exacerbating this. It is, after all, also known as Chasteberry and monks used to take it to help them keep their carnal thoughts in abeyance. Anyway, not one to take these things lying down (especially when it is having an impact on my desire for lying down), I have just added zinc to my arsenal in the hope that it will help perk things up in that department. Any other recommendations or tips for improving this would be greatly appreciated.

  12. All the classic symptoms here. I just started with Vitex. Not sure about dosage yet. I tried it in liquid form but the taste was impossible. Just didn’t want to do the hormone replacement, instinct would not let me. So bad, I go on lock down when it gets bad. Just lock myself in my room and wait it out. For those of you who have taken Vitex and feel success, what is your dosage?

  13. i’m just starting on vitex, have heard wonderful things about it, and love hearing your stories. i’m 50y.o. perimenopausal. have had two skipped period/long cycles in the last year. i have a large fibroid, with pain and bleeding. also, increased anemia.

    last year, this time, i was actually considering hysterectomy (after years of waiting for menopause). the skipped periods made me hopeful. now, i’ve had 6 in a row and have had trouble controlling the anemia. i’ve lost so much time and energy over the years due to the fibroids. the main reason i’ve avoided hyster is that i’m ocncerned about the complications some women experience as a result of the surgery.

    blessings to you all, to these wonderful bodies we have, blessings on the plants that nourish and heal!

    • Could you please update after 10 months? I’m curious to know since I have the same symptoms and started taking Vitex this month. Thanks

  14. My husband and I have been trying to conceive since last January. We had two positive tests in March, but then bleeding started a week after AF was due. I started taking Vitex on my own a month ago. It helped to greatly reduce my PMS and cramps during AF.

  15. I’ve had pesky skin from puberty onward and it has become increasingly challenging with the onset of peri-menopause. I’ve used expensive retail products and Proactiv for approximately 6 month intervals, but found it would stop working for me and leave me with eruptions that it could no longer control.

    I tried Clinique, DHC, Tea Tree products etc. during those times when Proactiv was not working for me. FINALLY, I tried this natural brand called Citrus Clear after researching online – this was 2 years ago when I had a major eruption. I’ve been using Citrus Clear products ever since. In addition to Citrus Clears ability to CONTROL my acne, it also has an option to help MAINTAIN my clear face. And its all natural and doesnt burn. I love that I have an option of which face wash to use, depending on the day.

  16. Hi Sarah, I am 42 and had a hysterectomy last year prior to which I ended up in ER many times from excessive bleeding, most likely from BC pills & injections to induce temp. menopause to control anemia! I still have my ovaries but no uterus or cervix. There is a cyst on both my ovaries and I am sure my hormones are messed up. I look 6 mo. pregnant (bloating probably) and have mood swings, acne & hirsutism. I have no idea where all my hormones stand but have a feeling they are messed up. Can I take vitex to create a hormonal BALANCE without knowing what my hormone levels are? Is vitex safe for someone who has ovaries but no uterus? Thanksss!

    • HI Anamika,
      Wow, I’m sorry you’ve been having so many challenges since your hysterectomy! I would recommend seeing a doctor (preferably a naturapath if you have them in your area) and get your hormones checked before attempting self treatment with vitex or any other herbal remedy. There are many good an natural treatments for the problems you mention but since your case is extenuating, some one on one care would be ideal for you. Wishing you the best of luck!

  17. I am 51 and starting to suffer from night sweets, really annoying! How many mg do you recommend taking? I am finding that different brands have different amounts anywhere from 225mg to 1000mg.

  18. Hi Emily, Ugh – night sweats are definitely annoying! I take about 800 mg of vitex a day. Although it’s a well known hormone balancer I haven’t seen it recommended by itself to address hot flashes and night sweats. I think I personally got more relief with maca (see my article on that), and many people use black cohosh. Good luck!

    • I just ordered some Maca root powder and capsules. Thanks for the advice. I will let you know how it goes!

  19. I notice you deleted my response to the man who “slips” Vitex into his girlfriend’s tea. Why? I presume you want readers to take your writing in the spirit of a pseudo-medical article, and congratulating him on giving someone medication, even a herbal one, without their knowledge or consent seems irresponsible to say the least. Don’t just post the positive responses – that is biased. As a woman who is very sensitive to Vitex, I don’t appreciate this man’s response or yours.

  20. I am so sorry your comment got deleted. I do get a good deal of weird spam comments on this blog – ones that have absolutely nothing to do with the content – and I must have been going through deleting those and inadvertently deleted yours.

    I never intentionally delete comments that are serious responses to the content of the article – positive or not.

    I now see which comment you are referring to, and you’re right – my response was irresponsible. Although I have not seen vitex to cause reactions or sensitivities it is true that no one should be given herbs or other medicines without their knowledge. Sorry this herb has been a problem for you!

    I definitely am not intending my writing to be ‘pseudo-medical’ or medical in any way. I have a disclaimer here that I am not a medical professional. I am an herbalist and a long time practitioner of herbal medicine. I like to share what I have learned and what has worked for me – but everyone must use their own intuition, and should definitely check with their medical provider if they have any concerns or questions before using herbs or any other healing modality.

    Thank you for expressing your concerns and giving me a chance to clarify my stance. Blessings to you.

  21. Hello all ..I’m new to thus blog n I have a very important question I’m n menopause and taking hormone pills, but I’m still bloated all the time and I’m always feeling like my bladder us so full. Can I take vitex while I’m on the hormone pills?

    • Hi Mea,

      I would check with your medical care provider to make sure that the vitex will not interact with the hormone pills. You might also want to adjust your hormone prescription if you are still experiencing these symptoms. There are other natural remedies for bloating and water retention as well. Good luck!

  22. Can I take Maca & Vitex at the same time? Is there any contradiction between them?

    • Hi Hanan,
      There shouldn’t be a problem with taking maca and vitex at the same time – since maca is more of a food than an herb. I take them both myself.

      Thanks for checking in!

  23. The many reviews I read about maca doesn’t encourage me to take it, although I am in a desparate need to get rid of the night sweats . Many women mentioned that they had big increase in weight and men type hair baldness.

    Does maca really cause these side effects?

    • http://detoxthebodymcs.com/detox-healing-crisis-or-herxheimer-reaction/
      Cheri and others who experience these kinds of symptoms. I’d look into herximer reaction, also call die off or detoxing.
      When experiencing those kinds of symptoms, I back off on the dose, take detox baths (2-3 C of Epsom Salts, Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother, Kelp, Magnesium crystals, etc) Get in the bath tub. Add several capsules of ascorbic acid/Vitamin C. Fill the tub with water as hot as you can stand. Stay in at least 20 minutes or until the water starts to cool. I also drink more water – up to half my body weight in Ounces.

  24. I’ve been taking Vitex for 3 days, but even though I cut the dose in half, I have a rash, bad brain fog, and the shakes. Therefore I’m going to stop taking it; I must be allergic to it.

  25. I had perimenopause forever it seemed, rough road of PMS and cramping and swelling, with a little endometriosis for years, but not bad enough to not suddenly carry out a full healthy pregnancy with my FIRST child — at age 41. Things were ok for 4 or 5 years after, a bit tough, then the crazy bleeding started to happen. I assumed my pregnancy had simply interrupted some menopause temporarily and my body was just returning to it with fuller force by age 45. Crazy bleeding… I mean I was so anemic and pale, these periods would go on and on! Had to change pants all the time, eat liver, take iron, feel exhausted, brain fog, etc.

    I didn’t like getting the progesterone shot from my OBGYN, but had to in order to stop bleeding that was going on a full month at that time. It was extremely heavy too, every day! When I got that shot, I’m sure it worked to help the bleeding, but it still took almost 9 more days for it to even slow down. I decided to try a product called Femaprin. Femaprin has

    100 mg of B6
    225 mg Vitex agnus casta extract (fruit) agnusides
    100 mg Vitex agnus castus (fruit)

    A lot of women were using it to conceive, but I’d heard it could help menopause too, so I studied about how it worked, approved, and went for it. I may not know how to translate the ingredients academically, but hey, I haven’t had a period SINCE!!! And spiritually, mentally and physically, I’m totally ok with that!

    Mind you, the progesterone shot was probably helping me the first few months, which is why I started the vitex right then, hoping the herb might be working by the time the shot “wore off”. I have been so healthy without a period, it’s unbelievable. This is not to be construed as medical advice people, and what works for some may not be exactly what your body needs. I’m just saying that it was SO what I needed. I’m about to turn 50, and besides some hot flashing now and then, and gradually decreasing (over years) night sweats, I’ve been on vitex for about 5 years with no bleeding or spotting whatsoever. So far, no strange side affects, no cancers, no polyps, and no concerns from my OB about the bleeding completely stopping, seemingly for good.

    I had too much estrogen causing my problems. It’s worth mentioning that I checked on that before getting that shot years ago and deciding to commit to vitex. The vitex in my case was much wiser and more economical (about $5.50 a month/taking one a day) than trying creams or hormone replacement. It “encourages” YOUR OWN pituitary to figure out the hormonal imbalance that is uniquely -if not mysteriously- your very own, so it can send messages to YOUR OWN body to handle YOUR OWN hormonal regulation. The REAL bioidentical hormones if you ask me, made by YOUR OWN body! In my opinion, this is very cool. And I am infinitely happy there’s a plant in the world like vitex.

    I still get some mood swings and a weird phantom cramp where a period might’ve been sometimes… but rarely, and I still don’t have that much sex drive, but never had a lot to begin with… so I feel like I’m still the me I’ve always been anyway and completely entitled to a mood swing now and then. The cramp could be digestive for all I know. The main thing vitex really changed for me was that outrageous, deadly estrogen level I had going on. I feel incredibly balanced now.

  26. Wow! Thanks for sharing your story Angela! What a journey. I’m so glad that Femaprin formula has given such great results for you.

    Your situation is quite unusual, and it’s true vitex produces different results for different women. Some notice mild improvements, some, like you, experience extreme improvements to their symptoms. Still others don’t agree with the herb at all. We all have to listen to our own bodies! That’s where the wisdom lies.

  27. Hi, I was going to tincture the berries and was wondering if you suggest using them whole or powdered? Do you also suggest using Vitex daily instead of the days between ovulation and the start of a cycle?

    Thanks.

  28. Hi Jennifer, great question!

    Powdered herbs work better for tinctures, and the absolute ideal way is to get the whole berries and powder them yourself in a grinder. Otherwise, simply purchase the powder from a reputable company such as Mountain Rose Herbs.
    And yes, in my understanding it is fine to use Vitex daily. But experiment to see what works best for you. Good luck!

  29. Hello, I have a friend who recently had her uterus and both her ovaries removed and she is undergoing chemotherapy. Do you suppose vitex is an option for her, would it benefit her in any way or is that totally out of the question. Thank you in advance, it would mean a lot to me if I can help my friend with some useful information.

    • Hi Yasmine,
      I can certainly understand that you want to help your friend with valuable information about good natural remedies! Unfortunately I am not a medical practitioner and I am not qualified to give advice in this situation. Vitex is a fairly benign herb, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to use any herbal remedies during chemotherapy.

      I suggest that your friend consult a trained naturapathic doctor to see which remedies she can safely use to support her healing – either now, or after the chemo is finished.

      Sending love and condolences to you and your friend. Losing your uterus and ovaries is a loss to be grieved.

  30. Just came upon your site after searching “vitex”. Love your info and all of the wonderful comments by your readers. Have used vitex for years first to conceive at age 38, then to regulate my hormones. I ran out of it a few months ago and did not realize how much it was helping me until I stopped taking it. Started to get morning sweats, extremely exhausted and missed two periods. Just assumed since I am 49 this was my “new normal”. Also was taking dhea a few months ago and ran out of it about the same time. The other day a light bulb went off and I realized that those were the two things I had not been taking. So started back on dhea last week, and feel like my old self. Actually have energy. Had my cycle early but was glad to,made me feel normal again. Then started vitex again today. Excited to see if it will help me like it has in the past. This new phase of life is so unfamiliar, I want to be proactive and not just accept this is what happens when you get older. I know it is a new path, I just need new tools to navigate it. Thank you for your information. It is so helpful, I look forward to following your site.

  31. Hello. I came upon your site after searching for “maca” and chasteberry. I love your insight and the readers responses. Both Maca and chasteberry have been recommended to me to take for perimenopause symptoms. Do you take both at the same time? Or do you suggest to start with one first (if so, which one) to see how it works – Thank you!

    • Hi Karen,

      So glad you’ve gotten some benefit from this article! That always makes me so happy!

      I believe that you would be fine with taking Maca and chaste tree berry (Vitex) at the same time. Maca is actually a food rather than an herb and is more supportive to overall energy and juiciness, while chastetree works more directly with hormonal balance. The only downside to taking both at once is that if you notice an improvement you won’t know whether that’s from one or the other or both. That’s why some herbalist recommend starting with one thing at a time. Personally, I tend to mix things up when I’m actively seeking relief!

      If you do get good results you could always try dropping off one of them after a while to see if things change.

      Did you see my blog about Maca berry? It is here: http://146.66.99.26/~holis183/holistichotsauce.com/maca-for-menopause-energy-more/

      Wishing you ease and grace as you navigate through the menopausal transformation!

  32. I have had a hysterectomy. Uterus in my 40’s and ovaries in my 50’s. Long history of entrometrious and fibroids. Wish I knew what I know now. Was on a low dose plant based estrogen replacement for years, then changed healthcare plans and was put on oral estroidol. Acupuncturist and Dr. Said don’t use it anymore. Maca helped for a while. I always understood that progesterone was not to be used if your uterus had been removed, but progesterone is calming and vitex is similar to wild yam in that it acts like progesterone. I’ve tried so many things and I’m so tired of the hot flashes and night sweats. I’ve had a vitex bush in my yard for years. I wonder if I should try it?

    • Hi Darlene, I am not a qualified medical professional so I hesitate to give you specific advice about this. Have you seen a naturapath? That might be a great move, and a person to ask about Vitex. You could also ask your acupuncturist. good luck!

  33. Sarah,

    I’ve been going through peri-menopause for the past 8 years. I get a few warm flashes that wake me up at night, no libido, and I can’t seem to get rid of the 22 pounds I’ve gained no matter how healthy I eat or how much I exercise. I know that Vitex can maybe depress my libido further, but it’s already so bad that I don’t care. LOL! My main interest is losing these 22 pounds. Do you think the Vitex might help? I’m at my wit’s end since nothing is working.

  34. Good afternoon, I’m new to all of this… I’m 43 ttc and taking chaste tree 500 mg B6 prenatal and vitamin C… I’m walking about 2-4 miles daily eating my veggies and no smoking nor alchohol consumption… How long does it usually take to see the bfp? This month I will be using the clear blue ovulation test…

    • Kate-
      I had my last child at 43 also. I began taking Maca and became pregnant immediately.
      (I was not ttc, but was very happy anyway.) Maybe you should try Maca along with the Vitex.

  35. I am in my mid forties and was blessed to have my 4th child at age 43. We are praying to have 1 more child. We lost a little one late last year very early in pregnancy, at just 5 weeks. I am having problems adjusting my hormones. I was on 100 mg. of progesterone to get pregnant with my son two years ago. We just upped my progesterone dosage to 200 mg. this month as my periods have been 24 to 26 days apart and there has been early spotting.

    A friend recommended Vitex and what it does sounds like exactly what I need, which is a longer luteal phase and higher progesterone. After taking 1200 mg. of Vitex per day for several weeks this cycle (the bottle says that you can take up to 6 pills a day so I started with 3), I started having horrible night sweats. Hot flashes occur when your estrogen plummets. I went off of the Vitex altogether and the sweats decreased, but I’m still having some moderate hot flashes in the night. I don’t know what to do with this supplement. I want for it to work for me, but it is hard to take a supplement when it seems to be causing a greater imbalance. Did I just start with too much?

  36. I am about to turn 38 and have been taking chasteberry for years. I still have my uterus and ovaries and had not yet started menopause but I had a very heavy bleeding during my cycle. Chasteberry greatly lightned this for me and even stopped it. Now after not taking it for a few months I am in pre menopause and my cycle never seems to end. I’m planning to start taking bartended again. By the way I buy mine online at Swansons and it is very cheap.

  37. I’m 47 and have had huge fibroids for about 9 years. They haven’t caused problems except that I look pregnant, so I haven’t been too concerned. I started having spotting after my period for a whole month along with hot flashes and night sweats about a year and a half ago. I started taking Vitex tincture from Mountain Rose, one dropper per day. My period was back to normal in just a few months with no hot flashes or sweats and the cramping I’ve always had during periods was greatly reduced. Most of any cramping that I have can be controlled with a cup of yarrow tea. Just this month I started the break-through bleeding after my period with hot flashes starting again. I’m going to start taking a break from Vitex for 5 days after my period rather than taking it every day of the month and see if that helps with responsiveness to the herb.

  38. Great article. Especially the idea of using vitex as a fibroid remedy is very interesting. I will look into that. Thanks, Lisa.

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