Vitex agnus-castus is a popularly growing herbal supplement. It has currently received a lot of attention due to its abilities to treat a variety of health issues. There are also mythical claims about the benefits of this herb on health.
Vitex agnus-castus, has long been used to treat infertility, skin problems, menstrual disorders, premenstrual syndrome, menopause problems, and preventing insect bites. It is also thought to protect against certain types of cancer, as well as providing added health effects. It is worth noting that some of these health benefits are not supported by science. This article reviews the scientifically proven health benefits and myths of vitex agnus-castus.
What Is Vitex Agnus-Castus?
Vitex agnus-castuscomes from a genus called Vitex in the plant family of Verbenaceae. Vitex is the largest genus in this group with about 250 species of plants all over the world. Out of the plants in this genus, Vitex agnus-castus is the most commonly used for medicinal purposes. This plant usually bears a fruit popularly known as chasteberry, which grows to the size of a peppercorn. Others refer to the fruit as monk’s pepper. It is thought that the chaste berries were used in ancient times to decrease libido in men, and for this reason Vitex agnus-castus is referred to as chaste tree. Chaste berries, as well as other parts of the chaste tree are typically used to treat several illnesses as a herbal remedy. For example, the fruit is used to treat premenstrual syndrome, infertility, menopausal symptoms, and other reproductive conditions affecting women. It was used to treat the same conditions in ancient Greece. It used to manage digestive issues, anxiety, and fungal infections in Turkey.
Can Be Used To Improve Reproductive Conditions Affecting Women
Vitex agnus-castus has gained all the popularity due to its ability to improve reproductive problems affecting women.
Reduce Severity of premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
When women are about to menstruate, they usually have a hormonal imbalance that causes several changes in the body and mind making them uncomfortable. Interestingly, several studies have shown that Vitex agnus-castus can reduce the severity of these symptoms. This may include constipation, low mood, restlessness, irritability, migraines, pain and tenderness of the breast. Studies suggest that vitex exerts its effects by lowering the levels of prolactin hormone. As a result, other hormones of the reproductive system, such as estrogen and progesterone are balanced, thus reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. What’s more, taking Vitex agnus-castus for premenstrual syndrome, have been shown to decrease other symptoms like cravings, depression, and anxiety. While it may have a few side effects, Vitex agnus-castus may also reduce cyclic mastalgia, which is breast pain and tenderness occurring during menstruation.
May Help Reduce Menopausal Symptoms
Women also experience uncomfortable feelings during menstruation. This is a stage in the life of a woman when reproductive hormones imbalance, with estrogen depleting. It usually occurs at the age of 50, but in some women, as early as 45 years. Given that Vitex agnus-castus has hormone-balancing properties, it may also help reduce symptoms of menopause. Vitex particularly may help improve mood and sleep quality. It is thought that it can even restore menstruation. The common symptoms of menopause experienced by every woman – hot flashes and night sweats – may also be reduced by applying vitex cream, according to studies. It is worth noting that these claims are based on research that used a combination of Vitex agnus-castus with other strong herbs. It is thus too early to celebrate vitex alone as a definitive remedy to symptoms of menopause.
May Enhance Fertility
Are you struggling to get a child? The situation is virtually embarrassing and humiliating. It appears that vitex may help you. Studies have shown that its ability to lower prolactin levels, may help enhance fertility in women. Researchers say that women with luteal phase defect, are the ones who can benefit the most. This is a disorder that occurs in the second phase of the menstrual cycle and is associated with marked increase in prolactin hormone. This makes conception difficult. A study on women with abnormally high levels of prolactin, indicated that Vitex agnus-castus can significantly reduce prolactin. It may also extend menstrual phases, making it easy for women to become pregnant. Since menstrual irregularities may also interfere with conception, studies have found that vitex can improve menstrual cycles and make them regular and more predictable.
May Help Prevent Insect Bites
It is thought that vitex may also help repel insects, keeping them at bay. Applying vitex extract in the skin can repel flies, mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks for a maximum of up to six hours. Studies also reveal that using sprays containing vitex may help prevent head lice. Lastly, vitex may also interfere with the lifecycle and reproduction of lice by killing their larva.
Other Health Benefits of Vitex
Besides providing the health benefits mentioned above, vitex may also help:
Reduce headache: Vitex can help reduce the episodes of headache in women susceptible to migraines during their menses.
Fight bacterial and fungal infections: Studies indicate that vitex contain essential oil, which has antibacterial and antifungal effects. This may help fight Staphylococcal and Salmonella infections.
Reduce inflammation: Vitex also contain powerful compounds with anti-inflammatory properties.
Repair bones: Bone fracture is a common problem in women who are in menopause reduced estrogen and mineral density. Studies indicate that vitex may help increase magnesium and markers involved in bone repair.
Prevent epilepsy: Some studies claim that vitex may help reduce episodes of epileptic seizures.
Traditionally, vitex was used to treat a variety of conditions. Nevertheless, these uses are not backed by science and are mythical. Some of the unsupported claims include:
Increasing milk supply and easing nursing difficulties.
Reducing pain by blocking pain receptors.
Rebalancing hormones that can complicate endometriosis, thus treating the condition.
Preventing baldness by promoting hair growth in men.
The fruits of Vitex agnus-castus, known as chaste berries have been shown to have medicinal values and can help women with reproductive conditions. A few supported benefits include enhancing fertility and reducing symptoms of menopause. Other benefits include treating acne and preventing baldness, but they are not supported by scientific evidence.