Vitex agnus-castus is the Latin name for Chasteberry, the dried fruit from the chaste tree. Its benefits as a natural remedy for women’s health were first documented over 2500 years ago when the Greeks and Romans used it to treat menopausal symptoms.
In the 1970s, Vitex gained a renewed popularity for managing conditions associated with the female reproductive system including PMS, infertility, breast tenderness, improved lactation, and once again, menopause.
Does vitex really help with menopause symptoms? Here’s what we know.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is a perfectly normal part of female aging. It usually occurs in the late 40s or early 50s as women transition from fertility to non-fertility. As the reproduction system slows down, the production of estrogen is naturally reduced causing unpredictable hormone fluctuations.
The symptoms experienced during menopause are the result of the body adapting to these hormonal changes.
As estrogen decreases, the menstrual cycle begins to change and become irregular. As this stage of life progresses, periods can arrive closer together or further apart until they stop permanently.
Menopause symptoms will vary from woman to woman but are known to include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, lack of libido, menopause mood swings, and interrupted sleep or insomnia.
Lack of concentration can also be a side effect of menopause, as well as unexpected spotting, irregular periods, hair thinning, and weight gain.
Younger women who have their ovaries removed for medical reasons can also experience menopausal symptoms, called Premature Menopause.
The Natural Menopausal Process
A natural menopausal process happens in three stages
Perimenopausetypically begins as women approach their late 40s, about 7-10 years before menopause is diagnosed. During this stage, the ovaries gradually start to reduce the production of estrogen.
Menstrual cycles continue, although they can become irregular. And symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, interrupted sleep, and vaginal dryness can occur for up to four years.
Menopause is diagnosed when the ovaries have ceased releasing eggs and the menstrual cycle has not occurred for twelve consecutive months.
In many women, symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, breast tenderness, urinary incontinence, heart racing, and changes in libido can continue for up to five years after their last period. However, symptoms will generally decrease in intensity as time passes.
Postmenopause is the term given to the time of life after menopause has been diagnosed. As stated above, menopause symptoms can continue during this phase but are typically less frequent and not as intense.
Due to the lower levels of estrogen in the body, however, postmenopausal women can be prone to conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
That said, even though the symptoms of menopause can seem daunting, healthy lifestyle changes, a nutritious diet, exercise, and a natural Vitex supplement can significantly help improve quality of life, as well as strengthen bones and lower cholesterol.
Can Vitex Help With Menopause Symptoms?
The pituitary gland is responsible for maintaining the cyclical release of estrogen and progesterone from the ovaries. And it is here that vitex can help. Acting as an adaptogen to stabilize the body’s stress response, Vitex helps the pituitary gland to rebalance hormones during all three stages of menopause.
By helping to slow down excessive hormone secretion, as well as boosting the production of insufficient hormones, Vitex is known to significantly aid in maintaining healthy hormone levels.
Research on the hormone-balancing abilities of vitex shows that it notably reduces menopausal symptoms such as mood swings, breast tenderness, pelvic discomfort, and interrupted sleep.
Vitex is also recommended to ease hot flashes. Women’s health experts have reported that patients taking a regular vitex supplement like Vitex Chasteberry Supplementfrom Intimate Rose have felt a significant decrease in the frequency, as well as the intensity, of hot flashes.
Give Vitex Three Months To Feel A Difference
In a recent study, 23 women experiencing menopause symptoms took vitex supplements for three months and reported better moods and improved sleep. In a follow-up study, of the 52 additional women who used vitex as a supplement, 33% experienced a major improvement in symptoms and 36% reported moderate improvements.
Women’s health practitioners, however, have reported that many patients noticed a decrease in symptoms in less than three months.
In an additional study to assess Vitex as a therapeutic option to alleviate menopausal symptoms in comparison with a placebo, results were just as promising. This time, a follow-up after eight weeks showed an overall improvement in quality of life for the women who had taken vitex as opposed to the placebo.
Menopause is a process that all female bodies go through and is generally thought to last between seven and ten years. Although symptoms can last from perimenopause until postmenopause, the intensity and duration of these symptoms can vary for each woman.
A healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, and a nutritious diet can help manage this phase of life. In addition, a vitex supplement taken for at least three months has been proven to significantly ease the intensity and frequency of menopause symptoms.
Scheduling regular check-ups during this phase of life is important to agree on a treatment plan with your doctor. And it is always important to discuss taking supplements with your healthcare provider before use.
N. E. Avis & S. M. McKinlay -The Massachusetts women’s health study: An epidemiologic investigation of the menopause - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7722206
Nancy E. Avis,Sybil L. Crawford, Gail Greendale, et al. - Duration of menopausal vasomotor symptoms over the menopause transition - jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2110996
R. Naseri, V. Farnia, K. Yazdchi, M. Alikhani, B. Basanj, S. Salemi - Comparison of Vitex agnus-castus Extracts with Placebo in Reducing Menopausal Symptoms: A Randomized Double-Blind Study - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6887765/
E G Loch, H Selle, N Boblitz - Treatment of premenstrual syndrome with a phytopharmaceutical formulation containing Vitex agnus castus - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10787228/