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Vitex not for PMS.

Botanical name: 

Magnesium citrate, B6 and Zinc are better than Vitex in PMS.

So OK, we've all been taught that vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) helps the progesterone part of the cycle.

However, vitex really isn't all that good an idea. Paul Bergner has been diving into the science of it, and posted on the herblist:

Henriette wrote:
> Paul Bergner has looked into this: "Magnesium citrate 600 mg, B6 (in a complex of 25-50 per B vitamin) and Zn (40 mg/day) for 6-12 weeks may help." - if you want to butt in here, Paul, please do.

Vitex probably affects the hormones by stimulating dopamine in the hypothalamus. This in turn suppresses prolactin and favors progesterone. That's the best we know from science, though there may be more to come. So the question is why is somebody dopamine deficient in the first place. The following are all required for dopamine manufacture:

Magnesium, B-6, Zinc, essential fatty acids, vitamin C, and iron. In our clinic we have repeatedly corrected hormonal imbalances with such a fundamental dietary and supplement program, within 2 cycles, and this also helped with addictions, which may also be related to low dopamine.

And, BTW, chocolate and orange juice are also dopaminergic, so by all means include that in your program. A 1-ounce dose of dark chocolate affects dopamine.

Taking vitex so solve the problem makes as much sense as taking caffeine to cure fatigue. It will worsen the underlying problem while masking it.

I had a student with bleeding around ovulation who had followed an herbalists advice to take vitex for the problem. She ended up within two cycles bleeding for 28 days straight. Many other cases reported of vitex disrupting the cycle and making matters worse or at least making them strange and unusual.

Favoring progesterone, vitex can also lead to the common side effect of progesterone -- depression. I had two cases of women with premenstrual depression who took vitex and the depression worsened severely enough for one of them to seriously contemplate suicide and the other to go on antidepressant drugs. Neither related it to the vitex, but on removal in the case of the suicidal woman, the suicidal ideation went away. This is not a wise woman herb.

Gotta love this stuff. Thanks Paul!

Hmmm, addictions. Wonder if that's why Vitex has been so good for the "gimme (whatever), gotta have it now!" shakes? Drop doses as needed work wonders; of course, for addicts who are trying to drop their habit I've also included loads of supplements, including the ones Paul outlined above, so while they took the Vitex for the immediate symptom they also helped the cause of that symptom - the deeper deficiency.


I just started taking Vitex a month ago to conceive. I take 2 capsules a day totaling 0.16% agnosin. I also couple it with usage of progesterone cream right after I finish ovulating for a week or so until I get my menses or become pregnant. I really hope this method would work. As for supplementing myself with the requisite minerals, I think I'm doing fine in that sense as I'm taking a pre natal supplement called Obimin and have been doing so since 4 months ago :) started taking Vitex to boost my fertility as i was told. wish me luck with getting pregnant!! :)

I totally disagree. Vitex has worked great for me. I do eat a very nourishing diet, as per Nourishing Traditions philosophy of pastured meats, fermented foods including kefir, and fermented veggies, fresh made bread from fresh ground grains, soaked and dehydrated nuts and seeds, organic fruits and veggies, etc. The only non food supps I take are some extra vit d and omega threes. I drink lots of nourishing herbal infusions, which have been amazing in making tooth and gum problems disappear, foot pain a joint problems, etc. The very high mineral content is probably what helped.

I don't take synthetic vitamin pills as I have never found them to work as well as whole food. I am very skeptical about lab made vitamin powders, made from weird things, and isolated or thrown together with other fake vitamin powders. My research has shown that these vitamins are analogs, and are not what is found in nature. They are similar but not natural. I suspect that the synthetic pill variety have toxic effects in the long term and damage health. So I am not willing to take them as recommended by Paul Bergner or Henriette. I am about as well nourished as a person can be with whole foods. Yet, I am in perimenopause and deal with some mild/moderate hormonal imbalance before my period, such as water retention and sore breasts, fatigue. My suspicions are that this is because of chemicals in the environment, xenoestrogens, etc. I do the best I can to avoid these, but in today's world in an industrialized country like the U.S. it is probably impossible to do. I use herbs to counteract these effects with excellent results. I vary things and don't take the same thing all the time. I have used vitex alone for months at a time, or combined with other herbs, and have had great results with it, without any worsening of imbalance, only improvements. Sure, if someone who doesn't take care of them self, and is not well nourished takes vitex as a magic bullet, I could see that there could be some adverse reactions. Also, if they are not taking it cyclically, but all the time, and maybe taking too much this could be a problem too. I only take a heaping half teaspoon a day (of powdered herb or whole berries chewed or ground fresh) for around two weeks before my period and it does wonders. Susun Weed recommends it, used wisely, and has great success with it. It seems to me to make more sense to educate on how to use vitex wisely, than to bash a perfectly useful and valuable plant. Some people have better results with some herbs and not others probably because of differences in biochemistry as well.

Hi all, I just found this site and thought I'd add my comments. I've recently stopped taking my birth control pill after 7 years in hope of trying for a baby. For 4-5 weeks after stopping my pill I was in agony, cramps, bloated, headaches, nausea and felt very very low. Now six weeks on still no period and felt low so I went to my local herbal shop and spoke to the lady who recommened Agnus Castus. So I'm now taking this vitex, multivitamins and minerals plus folic acid. Only after 5 days I feel much better, no sickness, not bloated and generally much happier. When I first started the AC my cramps did increase but after a few days I now have hardly any and I feel so much better. I hope that by taking the AC that my regular cycle will return as it was before I started taking birth control pill! After reading alot on the internet I would only take this whilst in my situation and not if I had regular cycle. I'm really hoping that it can help return my hormonal balance back to normal. :)

Hey there,

I read your story and it seems a little like mine. Ill be 24 next month. I was on birth control for 7years or so. It took me 6 months to get my first period, and then i didn't have another one till 3 months later. Its been a year now since Ive been off my BC pills and my periods are still messed up, i had one a month and a half ago but when it was time to start this last month it never came. Ive been trying to get pregnant for this whole last year but still no hope. Ive ordered Vitex off line and have been taking it with, a multi vitamin, Vitamin B and fish oil for the past couple weeks. I feel no difference and still haven't started my period, we'll see what happens

Hi I've been taking vitex now with evening primrose oil now for about 6 weeks. I have adenomyosis and was sufferering pretty badly with pms and depression and really sore pimples on my back around that time of the month. I also bled really heavily. This has been the first time in a long time (about 3 years) that I have felt this normal. I didn't get the pimples this time and I also haven't been feeling depressed. I feel like I can cope easily with pressure again also. In saying this however, I have noticed in the last week or so my hair feels like it's thinning and my skin is quite dry. I also don't want to be taking heaps of manufactured vitamins either so i'm unsure whether or not to take the vitex and feel good but look bad :( anyway I agree with some of the other comments in regards to everyone is different so different things work for different people.

I am 24 I generally have anywhere from 3-8 "normal" periods a year. My holistic Dr. prescribed Vitex for me to regulate my hormones about 3 years ago. I started taking it, and a month later, found out I was pregnant. Fast forward to today, or 10/3/2010 to be exact, I started taking vitex again. Not necessairy to get pregnant, I just want to be re-regulated again. I havent had a period since 8/11/2010 and would like for vitex to regulate me. My question is, what comes first, ovulation or period? In the past when I took Vitex 1 pill (500mg) twice a day. My period would generally arrive within about 2 weeks of taking it. It has been two weeks and im nervous/concerned that I may have ovulated....and may be pregnant (which isnt a big deal, but i wanted to go through a couple good cycles prior to conceiving again). So, does anyone have any suggestions regarding if Vitex induces ovulation...and the egg goes unfertilized so then you get a period? Or does Vitex induce a period, and next month I will ovulate?

I have a progesterone deficiency. I've had full metabolic panels done and that is the only thing wrong with my cycles: a lack of progesterone. I've been taking vitex for almost 6 months now without a single negative side effect. I'm not depressed, my cycles are finally normal, and for once they don't hurt.

Everyone responds different to treatments and to say that this herb is bad for absolutely everyone is just plain ignorant.

Also, do you have any background in studying addictions, dopamine, and the human brain? It sounds like you're recommending people jack up their dopamine levels on the things YOU recommend without understanding what happens to a person's brain chemistry, especially in recovering addicts. I really can't believe that you would take a recovering addict whose brain has been completely depleted of dopamine and serotonin and tell them a few vitamins and some chocolate will make them well again. Ever help a meth addict with that wonderful treatment plan?

I plan on starting Vitex this month. We should remember that all herbs work differently in different people. I plan on adding the nutrients listed in addition to taking vitex and seeing how it works in my body. I have low blood pressure and a sluggish circulation so chaste berry being a "spicy/warming" herb may work well in my body. I am TTC and have been having mid-cycle spotting starting 5 days post ovulation lasting until Menstrual. Hoping adding the nutrients and Vitex helps this luteal issue as well as helping us conceive.

I have been told I have premenopause at 34, I stopped having my period about six years ago, after being on orthocyclen for about three years. I had been taking Vitex and using Progesteron cream for about a year, but my doctor found my progesterone level very high, and my estrogen level low. My doctor prescribed me Primarin .625mg, but I don't want to take risks with its possible ugly side effects. I miraculously had my period this past August, just this one time in six years now, and I remeber around that time I drank soy milk and took vitamin B Complex, and then I stopped. Now I'll go back to soy milk again, and vitamin B Complex, and I am even considering a soy supplement, which would supposedly help raise my estrogen levels - maybe that helps to regulate my period, and maybe I can have children. Otherwise, my present options for becoming pregnant are a miracle and adoption. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Seeing that Vitex strengthens the progesterone part of the cycle your high progesterone levels aren't all that surprising. Go for the minerals and vitamins!

After seeing two doctors for my daughter's severe cramping due to menstration, I was told by both that the cramping is purely physical. That the opening of the cervix is shaller than the tip of a pencil, but the uterus is attempting to flush out a bloody lining. Just as we women were told to get up and walk to get a baby down the canal, the same idea applies here as well. By walking or running, we force the cervix to open further, thereby reducing the cramping.

Dunno ... menstrual cramps generally stop completely once you get enough _magnesium_.
Yes, it really is as simple as that.
(And PMS is helped by magnesium + liver herbs ... it's not rocket science, it's dietary deficiencies, and too few bitters in our food.)

I think a herbal supplement is like any other medicine on the market. It will work for some and not work for others. Thats why you should be under a doctors care for even herbal supplements.

I have PMDD ,Premenstrual dysphoric disorder and my symptons were extreme. I didnt want to go on birth control at my age (36) so Idid my research and talk to my doctor about Vitex. He laughed it off of course but I told him I was going to try it. Vitrex has completely temptered my symptoms. I have no extra bleeding between periods. My moods are stable and light. I am a little more proned to depression but a good B-complex and Gingko remedied that. I noticed I still get my cravings for chocolate but being as my doctor and I have seen a connection of chocolate and my PMS as a trigger for my PMDD, I stay away from it while PMSing. I still feel bloated and cramp the day I start maybe once every few months but for most part, I have no symptoms of PMDD or PMS while on Vitex. I think it again, depends on the woman. My Doctor? He is a beleiver now. He has started researching it for other women with PMDD.

1st, herbs aren't medicines, not even close. They don't kill thousands of people every year ...
2nd, it's silly to say that you should see a doc if you want to take herbs. Docs have no clue whatsoever about herbs ... not even chamomile.
Other than that, I do suggest you do the minerals and vitamins outlined in the blog post, if you also do vitex.

Hi everyone! I just had my 25th birthday this past December. My 3 year wedding anniversary is this month (January). When my husband and I got married, we began trying to concieve. After a year and a half of trying with no success, I began bleeding. I bled for 8 months straight. I went to a doctor and she put me on Birth Control. While taking the birth control, I began bleeding severly bad. I almost went to the ER several times because I thought that I was hemmoraging. I put up with that for about a week hoping that it would level itself out. I called the Dr. and she said to just stick it out. She thinks that I have fibroid cysts. Well to say the least I quit taking it. It scared the crap out of me. She checked my iron and it was normal. I thought that was odd, but nonetheless.... I've still been bleeding. All together now, it's been since August 23rd of 2009 that I've been constantly bleeding. I went into a store in the town where I live that specializes in herbal supplements etc. The woman that I spoke with suggested Vitex. I cannot handle this much longer. I am almost to the point that I would take anything that could make it stop. I cannot tell what my cycles are. Everything just runs together. At this point, I understand that getting pregnant would not be a good idea for me physically due to the instability of my reproductive system, so that isn't and wouldn't be my goal with taking it. I just need some relief. I see that most of the comments on this blog are negative responses to the supplement, but I need to know what ELSE to use if not Vitex.

For the bleeding, capsella works nicely.
For the underlying problem, you should go see a herbalist, locally, against payment.

I'm so glad I stumbled across your website! I've had periods like clockwork all my life...heavy, but faithful! Then, after a long year of extreme stress & poor nutrition (too busy to eat my normally healthy diet of protein & whole grains & veggies) my period started taking longer to come & then I haven't had it for 2 months. I panicked & went back on the vitex supplement I'd tried before from GNC & I truly believe, after reading comments on this site, that this explains A LOT!!! I've had nausea, hair loss, diarrhea & felt like I was losing my mind!!! I want to have a period again & have a fertile body...but not like this! HELP!!!

... wee-eee-eeell. Try the supplements outlined in the blog post everybody commented on, and see where that leaves you after the next two periods. You should be fine by then ...

I have had very high prolactin for at least 10 years. It has for the most part been dismissed by MD's as 'only stress'. After 10 years someone finally decided to investigate a pituitary tumor, but there was none. Then I was told sometimes prolactin is just high for no reason. *ugh* My ND told me to take Vitex 3x day everyday. She never said to take it only during specific times of the month. I had read that it should be taken in the morning soon after waking up, so that's what I have done, taking it only once per day because I take other herbs at different times if the day and I don't like overloading myself.

I am only taking Vitex for high prolactin. I don't have PMS or any other menstrual issues, though some of my other hormones are on the low side. Estrogen for one, I don't remember what else. This is the first time I have ever heard that nutrient deficiencies lead to less dopamine which can lead to high prolactin, so I am very glad to know this now. I always want to know the why's of what is wrong with me, but unforunately my health care providers never seem that interested in digging deeper. I am in a rural community so there is little selection.

In a situation like mine, would the nutrients suggested also be a better choice that the Vitex? I have been struggling to get my ferritin up for years and I used to have b12 deficiency, but I was never tested for anything else, though I requested it many times. I suspect nutrient deficiencies happen in packs rather than one or two, but I cannot find out at this point.

Thank you

Yes, the nutrients would be better than vitex for you. Do the lot, and add b12 to the mix, too, if you still are a vegetarian. (You'll get _lots_ of iron from nettles, or from floradix ("Kräuterblutsaft") and similar herb juice blends. Do that every day for at least a month, then 2-3 times a week after that.)

Thank you. I will scrap the vitex. I have been taking Nettle nourishing infusions, eating Nettle in season, yellow dock/dandelion/molasses syrup, 50 mg iron with 500 mg vit C daily and my ferritin is still just creeping up (up 5 points in 1 year). The year I took Floradix instead of iron pills, with nettles, dock and dandelion my ferritin dropped, which is why I got back on the pills. I am not vegetarian. As long as I take b12 pills my levels stay up. As soon as I stop they go back down, even though I eat plenty of supposedly b12 rich foods daily. I suspected Celiac but tested negative. I am so upset at my health care providers for not telling me or not knowing about nutrient deficiency based high prolactin. Even the Endocrinologist I saw just wanted to put me on prescription drugs for it. I wish there was a good herbalist in the area I could see. My naturopath sucks but she is the only one within a few hours drive.

Thank you again for the information. I will try it out. Are the nutrients to be taken all together in one shot daily? Apart from the iron? With or without food? Thanks again!

I have been taking agnus catsus for about 6 months. I had a 2 week break about 3 months ago as became very ill and though I had zinc poisoning, but thinking back it could be realted to vitex. i have been taking 2x1000mg per day. Over the last couple of months I have become increasingly tired with no energy and feeling anxious and faint. Over the last couple of weeks I have been suffering from severe depression and anxiety and feel like im losing my mind! Ive been to see my GP who said im suffering from depressing and wanted to put me on antidepressants which I delclined. I stopped taking the agnus castus just over a week ago but am still feeling the same although not as bad. How long am I going to feel like this for, Im not sure how much longer I can take it?? The reason I was taking this was to improve my acne which really has helped but now im having to stop it and my acne is returning which is making me more depressed. I also take fish oil, starflower oil, vitamin c, magnesium and zinc. Is there anything else I should take or any of them I should stop to make me feel better faster? I dont know what to do for the best, I opinion would be appeciated, thank you.

Take the supplements mentioned in the blog post you're responding to.