Vitex supplement is an herbal extract from the berries of the vitex plant, and it used to regulate hormonal imbalances in women. Vitex, or vitex agnus-castus, also is known as chasteberry, a name that reflects its historical use as a sexual suppressant to help women and men to remain chaste. Vitex supplements can be found in tinctured and capsule form.
Vitex supplements are used to address symptoms associated with premenstrual sydrome (PMS), including mood swings, headaches, bloating, breast tenderness and minor depression. It is helpful in cases of irregular menstruation and menopausal symptoms. Often, minor relief will be felt within the first week of taking vitex supplements daily. Vitex is a slow acting, long-term regulator, however. Women typically take vitex supplements for at least three months before they begin to see significant improvements in their cycle.
Taking vitex supplements regularly can help women establish a natural, regular cycle after discontinuing the use of birth control pills or other hormone medications. Vitex also can help relieve acne in young women. Young men should avoid this supplement, however, because of its estrogenic compounds.
Vitex assists the body’s natural regulation of hormonal levels by affecting the pituitary gland. If a hormone is being produced in too great a quantity, vitex will slow the production of that hormone. If hormone levels are low, the supplement will stimulate greater production until the right balance is achieved.
Though many studies have been done in an attempt to find definitive evidence of the active compounds in vitex and their effects, there have been no conclusive findings. A long history of safe and effective use, however, has earned vitex a permanent place in the herbalist’s tradition and practice. Vitex is considered a safe and effective supplement with no known side effects. It would wise, however, for one to consult with a doctor before beginning the use of vitex, especially for people who are taking other medications, have a medical condition, are pregnant or are nursing.
The vitex plant, also called a chastetree, is a small, deciduous tree native to the Mediterranean regions. It flowers during the summer and produces glossy, black berries in abundance in the fall. Though not native to the United States, chastetree grows well in many parts of the U.S. and can be found in most of the coastal regions.