Vitex (Agnus castus), also called Chasteberry, Abraham's Balm, or Monk's Pepper is an herb from the Mediterranean. It can grow as a tree or shrub, reaching heights of 15 feet with proper care. The plant blooms in late summer with lavender, white or pink blooms depending on the cultivar chosen.
Traditionally, herbalists have recommended Vitex (Agnus castus) for a variety of feminine illnesses. According to Cox College in Springfield, MO, the herb has consistently shown to be an effective treatment for premenstrual syndrome in double-blind scientific tests. Vitex (Agnus castus) stimulates the pituitary gland, helps to balance estrogen, luteinising hormone (LH) and progesterone levels, and blocks prolactin.
Agnus Castus & PCOS
Women with PCOS often have an insufficient amount of progesterone, which results in a shortened luteal phase in the menstrual cycle. The luteal phase is the second half of the menstrual cycle that takes place after the egg releases, or ovulation occurs. During this phase, progesterone and estrogen increase, preparing the uterus for conception. If no conception occurs, menstruation begins. A shortened luteal phase can contribute to the formation of ovarian cysts. Because Agnus castus helps to balance estrogen and progesterone, it can help extend the luteal phase to the normal 14 days and reduce the incidence of ovarian cyst development. With continued use over a period of at least six months, the re-balancing of hormones can reduce the symptoms commonly associated with PCOS. In combination with other vitamins for PCOS, you can effectively manage the condition.
Side Effects of Vitex (Agnus castus)
While Agnus castus is a relatively safe herbal supplement, all supplements and medications have possible negative side effects. The possible side effects of this herbal treatment include minor stomach upset, or a mild, itchy skin rash. Do not take Vitex (Agnus castus) when pregnant, and do not combine the herb with any other hormone therapies including hormone replacement therapies and birth control pills.