What is Vitex Extract? (with pictures)

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Several herbal remedies are available to treat female ailments. Vitex extract is one of these dietary supplements. Vitex capsules can be used to treat premenstrual symptoms, breast pain, menstrual cycle problems, and other issues.

Vitex can cause hair loss.
Vitex can cause hair loss.

Vitex extract comes from the fruit of the chaste tree. Also known as chasteberry extract, it is often used by European women to treat premenstrual discomfort. Used for thousands of years to treat such ailments, it was once believed to decrease human libido.

Heavy bleeding, such as hypermenorrhea, lack of monthly bleeding, nonstop bleeding, tenderness, bloating, anxiety, fatigue, and many other symptoms may be alleviated with this traditional remedy. Some physicians prescribe the extract to treat uterine fibroids. It has been used to treat lactation problems as well.

Some physicians prescribe vitex extract to treat uterine fibroids.
Some physicians prescribe vitex extract to treat uterine fibroids.

Many symptoms that females experience may be caused by hormonal imbalances. Vitex supplements are purported to help regulate hormones, such as progesterone, prolactin, and estrogen, through stabilizing the pituitary gland. Though not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, several other countries, including Germany, have approved the extract for this use.

Vitex supplements are purported to help regulate hormones by stabilizing the pituitary gland.
Vitex supplements are purported to help regulate hormones by stabilizing the pituitary gland.

The most common form of vitex extract is the capsule. A standard dose is one to three capsules daily, usually with each meal. Patients who take the supplement should, however, follow their physician's recommended dosage when taking the herbal medication. It can take up to several months for this medication to take effect. In addition to capsule form, the extract may be obtained as a tincture or powder.

Vitex extract may cause fatigue in some individuals.
Vitex extract may cause fatigue in some individuals.

Some vitex side effects can occur. The most common side effects include stomach pain, cramping, fatigue, headache, acne, hair loss, increase in menstrual blood, and diarrhea. If serious side effects develop, such as an allergic reaction or difficulty breathing, stop use of this medicine and obtain medical help immediately.

People who are taking any form of medication or who have allergies of any kind should consult with a physician prior to taking this herbal remedy. Women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant should not take vitex extract. People taking dopamine agonists in particular should refrain from using this supplement. Birth control drugs may be rendered ineffective by the herbal supplement. Women who do not wish to get pregnant should use another form of contraceptive while taking vitex extract.

This medication should be kept out of heat and reach of children and pets. For best results, it should be stored in a dry, cool place. The supplement should also be kept away from direct sunlight.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments

minthybear19

@Almita - I did the peppermint tea and hot water bottle thing for years. I don't get really bad cramps that often, but when I do I just take two ibuprofen. It works like a charm. The cramps and bloating go away really fast. You should try it instead of aspirin if you can.

I tried taking vitex extract for a while, but it took too long to get into my system and I never remembered to take it with food. I'm really bad with taking pills and supplements. If I missed taking it, it just took longer to get into my system.

Almita

I used Vitex for a long time because I got so sick whenever my period came around. It did help a lot with the bloating and menstrual cramping -- but it gave me diarrhea. I stuck with it for awhile anyway, but I had to stop taking it eventually.

I tried other types of menstrual relief pain pills, but nothing seemed to work as well. Now I stick to peppermint tea, a hot water bottle and napping to get through bad periods. Sometimes, I have to take aspirin but for the most part – I just sleep it off when it's really bad.

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    • Vitex can cause hair loss.
      Vitex can cause hair loss.
    • Some physicians prescribe vitex extract to treat uterine fibroids.
      Some physicians prescribe vitex extract to treat uterine fibroids.
    • Vitex supplements are purported to help regulate hormones by stabilizing the pituitary gland.
      Vitex supplements are purported to help regulate hormones by stabilizing the pituitary gland.
    • Vitex extract may cause fatigue in some individuals.
      Vitex extract may cause fatigue in some individuals.
    • Vitex side effects may include acne.
      Vitex side effects may include acne.
    • Bloating may be relieved with vitex extract.
      Bloating may be relieved with vitex extract.