All About Vitex
Vitex is another name for chaste tree berry (“vitex agnus castus”), a very popular and effective herbal medicine that has been gaining traction as a fertility drug due to its ability to promote ovulation. Essentially, it does this by preventing your pituitary gland from producing too much prolactin; prolactin inhibits ovulation. It also has opiate-like constituents, which can help calm your nervous system.
While it can do people a world of good, it should always be used under the supervision of your primary care physician, as it’s an incredibly potent herb and can cause more problems than it solves when used incorrectly, or for too long a period of time.
Some things to consider before starting Vitex include:
How long you’ve been off the pill
If you’ve just come off the pill, it’s important to give your pituitary gland and ovaries some time to learn to “talk” to each other again before introducing a strong herb – if you give it some time, you may find you don’t need Vitex at all.
If you suffer from PMS
Vitex is incredibly effective for PMS symptoms; in Germany, it’s routinely prescribed in place of the pill for those looking for a solution to a week of bloating, pain and irritability.
If you’re already taking fertility drugs (including IVF)
Combining Vitex with ovulation-stimulating drugs can result in a serious condition called ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome.
Where you are in your menstrual cycle
Because Vitex is intended to promote ovulation, you should be taking it during your follicular phase (prior to ovulation). If you have irregular periods, it may be difficult for you to determine when that is. A good rule of thumb is to start taking it as soon as your period has ended, and take a break when your next period arrives (taking a break helps it to remain effective).
If you suffer from PCOS
If you suffer from PCOS, Vitex may work well for you; or, it may make things worse. It can raise levels of luteinizing hormone in the body, and for some types of PCOS, levels of this hormone in the body are already way too high.
While Vitex is available over the counter, again, we strongly recommend talking to your primary care physician before you start taking it as it is incredibly potent, and may not be right for your specific condition.