How can Vitex (Chaste berry) help me get pregnant?
Vitex agnus-castus (chaste berry) is a well-known herb that has been used for centuries for hormonal imbalances in women. Vitex is one of the oldest phytomedicines. The ancient Greek physicians reported its use in suppressing the libido. Using medicines similar to modern indications, they recommended it as an aid in external wound heeling, complaints of the spleen, and for use in child birth. The English have used Vitex or Chaste berry to suppress the libido as did the Catholic Church, which had it placed in the pockets of neophyte monks to help in their vow of chastity. Early American physicians used it to stimulate lactation and as an emmenagogic. However, there is no contemporary scientific literature to suggest that Vitex or Chaste Berry actually does suppress the libido.
The key to getting pregnant, besides general health and well being, is ovulation and regular menstrual cycles. Vitex or chaste berry has an excellent track record in relieving complaints in women, caused by hormonal imbalances, known as Premenstrual Syndrome. It may also be helpful for women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) who do not have a normal menstrual cycle. These women thus don’t ovulate or menstruate and cannot get pregnant. The condition when a woman does not have any menstruation at all is known as amenorrhea.
A large percentage of these menstrual problems are related to insufficient progesterone during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which is called a luteal phase defect or corpus luteum insufficiency. A corpus luteum insufficiency is defined as an abnormally low progesterone level 3 weeks after the onset of menstruation. Insufficient levels of progesterone may result in the formation of ovarian cysts. In addition, some women suffering fro PCOS have too much prolactin, which can inhibit fertility. Vitex may help with both of these problems.
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Vitex or Chaste tree berry acts on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands by increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) production and mildly inhibiting the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This results in a shift in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, with a rise in progesterone. The ability of chaste tree berry to raise progesterone levels in the body is an indirect effect, so the herb itself is not a hormone.
Lack of menstruation or amenorrhea caused by a lack of ovulation, suggests that the body is producing enough FSH to stimulate the ovaries, and that the ovaries can develop follicles. But here the body is not secreting enough progesterone that they may release that egg. In such women, follicular production of estrogen is sufficient to cause the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to grow and that the sloughed endometrium is able to pass through the cervical opening and the vagina, causing menstruation. Therefore it’s possible that the problem is a dysfunction in the hypothalamus or pituitary glands. Vitex or chaste berry can be used in such women to alter the hypothalamus or pituitary function for treating amenorrhea (infertility).
Chaste berry is useful for reducing high prolactin levels. High levels of the hormone prolactin are commonly associated with leutal phase defect can also be treated with Vitex. It inhibits prolactin release by the pituitary gland, especially when you are under stress.
Vitex works exceptionally well and you will notice tremendous relief around your third or fourth menstrual cycle after you begin taking the Vitex. But when using Vitex or chaste berry, don’t expect immediate results. It may not have much effect until it is taken for at least 3-6 months. Remember that Vitex or chaste berry is not a hormone. It’s not the same as taking progesterone and you cannot expect a withdrawal bleed a few days as you would if you were taking progesterone or synthetic progestins.
Every woman is unique and so is her physiology. So the amount and form of Vitex or chaste berry you need won’t be the same as for someone else. Seek guidance from a licensed naturopathic physician, who would have extensive knowledge of herbs and botanical medicines. Vitex or chaste berry is very safe ad can be taken daily for up to 18 continuous months, unless pregnancy occurs. It is usually taken in the morning as a single daily dose.
As a general guideline, your daily dose could be:
60 drops of Vitex tincture, standardized to contain 6% agusides.
175 mg. or more of standardized Vitex extract, standardized to contain 6% agusides.
You can also take a blend which includes vitex like Fertilaid for Women to help you balance your hormones and induce ovulation.