Vitex (Chasteberry): Uses and Benefits

Chaste Tree

Amanda Olson - DPT
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Amanda Olson, DPT, PRPC

Vitex agnus-castus, also known as Chasteberry, grows in Mediterranean countries and Asia. Its dried fruit, which has a peppery taste and aroma, has been used as a herbal remedy for generations.

While particularly effective in treating conditions associated with the female reproductive system, Vitex is also thought to offer a range of additional health benefits.

Read on to discover the many uses and benefits of Vitex (Chasteberry), as well as how it works, possible side effects, and what to know before using it. 

What Are the Benefits of Taking Vitex?

Premenstrual Syndrome Relief

Relief from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is probably the most popular benefit of Vitex. 

Widely known to reduce levels of the hormone prolactin and help rebalance hormones like estrogen and progesterone, Vitex aids immensely in relieving PMS symptoms.

In a recent study, 93% of women who took Vitex supplements over three consecutive months reported a significant improvement in PMS symptoms such as pelvic discomfort, irritability, premenstrual acne, and cravings.

Breast Tenderness

Vitex is also known to ease cyclic breast tenderness linked to menstruation.   

Cyclic breast tenderness, also known as Cyclic Mastalgia, generally comes and goes with the menstrual cycle. Linked to high levels of the hormone prolactin, breast tenderness generally occurs during ovulation.

During a placebo-controlled study in 1999, 50% of participants who took Vitex supplements for three menstrual cycles reported a significant decrease in breast tenderness. Notably, Vitex has also been used as the standard treatment for cyclic breast tenderness in Europe for decades.    

Headache & Migraine Relief

It is well known that a significant percentage of women suffer headaches or migraines related to hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation. During recent clinical trials, it has been documented that Vitex, such as the Vitex Chasteberry Supplementfrom Intimate Rose can offer significant relief.

In one study,42% of women who were experienced regular PMS migraines reported a 66% reduction in headaches after taking a daily Vitex supplement for three months. 

Reduces Menopause Symptoms

Menopausal symptoms such as mood swings, pelvic discomfort, interrupted sleep, and hot flashes can also be reduced by the hormone-balancing abilities of Vitex.   

In one 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. 

Improves Female Fertility

Due to its effect on prolactin levels, Vitex is also believed to improve female fertility.

Women with a shorter luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, or irregular periods can experience abnormally high prolactin levels, making it more difficult to become pregnant. 

In recent studies, it has been found that a Vitex supplement was just as effective as pharmaceutical drugs in reducing prolactin levels. Additionally, women with luteal phase defects experienced longer and more regular menstrual phases. 

Improved Breastfeeding

In Europe, Vitex is one of the most recognized natural remedies for improving lactation.

In a well-acknowledged German study, results showed that mothers who took a controlled amount of Vitex daily produced notably increased amounts of milk compared with mothers who did not.

However, it is important to note that Vitex should not be taken during pregnancy.

Antibacterial & Antifungal Effects

Previous studies have shown that essential oils made from Vitex can resist harmful bacteria and fungi like Staphylococcus and Salmonella.

Insect Repellant

Studies have also found that an extract from Vitex seeds can repel mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and fleas for up to six hours. Additional research revealed that Vitex can not only kill lice but also prevent lice reproduction.

What Are the Side Effects of Vitex?

Vitex can cause minor side effects like stomach upset or nausea in some patients. However, this can be easily combatted by taking supplements that contain added anti-nausea ginger to combat stomach upset and improve digestive health, like theVitex Chasteberry Supplementfrom Intimate Rose.

Conclusion

Vitex agnus-castus or Chasteberry is a natural remedy with a variety of uses and benefits. Frequently used to relieve PMS and menopausal symptoms, it can also improve female fertility, balance hormones, and increase the production of milk during lactation.

Vitex is also known to relieve headaches, repel certain insects, and act as an antibacterial & antifungal treatment. However, it is not recommended during pregnancy.   

If you are considering a Vitex supplement, always speak with your health provider first.

References

S. Ganapaty, K.N. Vidyadhar -Phytoconstituents and Biological Activities of Vitex –

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286032097_Phytoconstituents_and_biological_activities_of_Vitex_-_A_review

M. Diana van Die, Henry G. Burger, Helena J Teede, Kerry M. Bone - Vitex agnus-astus Extracts for Female Reproductive Disorders -https://www.thieme-connect.de/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0032-1327831

Barbara Chopin Lucks - Vitex agnus castus essential oil and menopausal balance: a research update [Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12852933/

Halaška M, Beles P, Gorkow C, Sieder C. - Treatment of cyclical mastalgia with a solution containing Vitex agnus extract: results of a placebo-controlled double-blind study. The Breast 1999;8:175-81. - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14731436/

A Ghannadi, Mr. Bagherinejad, D Abedi, M Jalali, B Absalan, N Sadeghi – Antibacterial activity and composition of essential oils from Pelargonium graveolens L’Her and Vitex Agnus-castus L -

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23205247/

Bruno MarongiuAlessandra PirasSilvia PorceddaDanilo FalconieriMaria J GoncalvesLigia SalgueiroAndrea MaxiaRoberta Lai – Extraction, separation, and isolation of volatiles from Vitex agnus-castus L wild species of Sardinia, Italy, by supercritical CO2- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20397107/

Heinz Mehlhorn, Günter SchmahlJürgen Schmidt - Extract of the seeds of the plant Vitex agnus castus proven to be highly efficacious as a repellent against ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and biting flies -https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15682335/

Margit SemmlerFathy Abdel-GhaffarKhaled Al-RasheidSven KlimpelHeinz Mehlhorn - Repellency against head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20054562/

Anna Ambrosini, Cherubino Di LorenzoGianluca CoppolaFrancesco Pierelli -

Use of Vitex agnus-castus in migrainous women with premenstrual syndrome: an open-label clinical observation - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22791378/