Vitex agnus castus herb review and side effects extract supplement benefit by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 12 2014

The dried ripe fruit of Vitex agnus-castus is widely used for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). For more information on chaste berry or to purchase a product.

Enzymatic Therapy - Chaste Berry Vitex Agnus Extract
Supplement Facts
Vitex agnus-castus - 225 mg Berry Extract
    Standardized to contain a minimum of 0.5% agnuside

 

 

 

Vitex fertility relation
Vitex agnus herb may influence fertility but more human trials are needed to know the details.

Vitex agnus and PMS
Fluoxetine versus Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Hum Psychopharmacol. 2003. Atmaca M, Kumru S, Tezcan E. Firat University, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Elazig, Turkey.
Clinical trials have demonstrated that serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) and the extract of Vitex agnus castus are effective for the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. However, to the best of our knowledge, there has been no study comparing the efficacy of the SRIs with Vitex agnus castus extract. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to compare the efficacy of fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), with that of the Vitex agnus castus extract extract. Forty patients with PMS  were randomized to fluoxetine or Vitex agnus castus extract for 2 months. A similar percentage of patients responded to fluoxetine (68) and Vitex agnus castus extract (58). This preliminary study suggests that patients with PMS respond well to treatment with both fluoxetine and Vitex agnus castus extract. However, fluoxetine was more effective for psychological symptoms while the extract diminished the physical symptoms.

Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study.
BMJ. 2001. Schellenberg R. Institute for Health Care and Science, Hüttenberg, Germany.
Dr. R. Schellenberg compared the efficacy and tolerability of agnus castus fruit (Vitex agnus castus L extract Ze 440) with placebo for women with the premenstrual syndrome. Vitex agnus castus (dry extract tablets) one tablet daily or matching placebo, given for three consecutive cycles. Dry extract of agnus castus fruit is an effective and well tolerated treatment for the relief of symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome.

Vitex side effects
Vitex extract has been taken by women for decades and thus far no major side effects have been reported in the medical literature, however this is always possible as more women take vitex supplements.

Fruits of vitex agnus castus chemical composition
Two labdane-type diterpenes, vitetrifolin B and C, have been isolated, along with rotundifuran, vitexilactone and the sesquiterpene spathulenol. Additional substances include agnuside, eupatorin along with casticin, penduletin, vitexin and orientin. For information on additional botanical herbs.

Nat Prod Res. Jan 28 2014. Optimisation of phenolics recovery from Vitex agnus-castus Linn. leaves by high-pressure and temperature extraction. To optimise recovery of phenolics from Vitex agnus-castus Linn., a non-conventional high-pressure (2-24 bar) and temperature (100-180°C) extraction method was used under nitrogen atmosphere with methanol as a solvent. Optimal temperature was between 100 and 140°C, and optimal extraction time was about one half that of conventional solid/liquid extraction at room temperature. Final yields of total polyphenols, total flavonoids, o-diphenols and anthocyanins extraction were 2.0, 3.0, 2.5 and 11-fold those obtained by conventional extraction.

Vitex agnus and prolactin hormone
Chaste tree Vitex agnus-castus pharmacology and clinical indications.
Phytomedicine. 2003. Wuttke W, Jarry H, Christoffel V, Spengler B, Seidlová-Wuttke D. Department of Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology, University of Göttingen, Germany.
Extracts of the fruits of chaste tree Vitex agnus castus are widely used to treat premenstrual symptoms. Double-blind placebo-controlled studies indicate that one of the most common premenstrual symptoms, i.e. premenstrual mastodynia ( mastalgia ) is beneficially influenced by this herbal extract. Premenstrual mastodynia is most likely due to a latent hyperprolactinemia, i.e. patients release more than physiologic amounts of prolactin in response to stressful situations and during deep sleep phases which appear to stimulate the mammary gland. Premenstrually this unphysiological prolactin release is so high that the serum prolactin levels often approach heights which are misinterpreted as prolactinomas. Since Vitex agnus castus extracts were shown to have beneficial effects on premenstrual mastodynia serum prolactin levels in such patients were also studied in one double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Serum prolactin levels were indeed reduced in the patients treated with the extract. The search for the prolactin suppressive principle(s) yielded a number of compounds with dopaminergic properties: they bound to recombinant DA2-receptor protein and suppressed prolactin release from cultivated lactotrophs as well as in animal experiments. The search for the chemical identity of the dopaminergic compounds resulted in isolation of a number of diterpenes of which some clerodadienols were most important for the prolactin suppressive effects. They were almost identical in their prolactin suppressive properties than dopamine itself. Hence, it is concluded that dopaminergic compounds present in Vitex agnus castus are clinically the important compounds which improve premenstrual mastodynia and possibly also other symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome.

Questions
Q. I have read that the herbal supplement vitex reduces prolactin secretion, and that some men have taken it for sex enhancement purposes, and experienced a much shorter refractory period as a result. I have also read that the effects of vitex agnus herb are very different, depending on whether the dose taken is relatively small or large. Have you, or have any men that you have communicated with, had any experience with vitex agnus herb or extract? If so, was there any reduction in the refractory, and were there any undesirable vitex side effects? Is there a optimum dosage?
   A. I don't have much experience with vitex agnus in terms of its effect on sexual function. There are many other herbs that are much more potent in this regard, for instance maca, tribulus, horny goat weed, catuaba, and tongkat ali.

Q. I’ve heard men take vitex agnus to help lower their prolactin. I’ve also read it was used centuries ago by monks to curb sex drive. Could you tell me if a man could take vitex agnus in low dosage to lower prolactin and what would be deemed as low dosage?
   A. Rather than focusing on the level of one particular hormone in the body, one should address the actual clinical symptoms. Having said this, some studies do indicate that vitex agnus herb can lower prolactin levels. I am not aware of any long term human studies in men that determine the ideal dosage of vitex agnus herb for this purpose. One can curb sex drive with the supplement 5-HTP.

I have read on your Web site that Agnus Castus Vitex helps control the function of the pituitary gland and regulate prolactin levels. Though research indicates this supplement reduces high prolactin levels in menstruating women, do you know if it can potentially increase low prolactin levels?
    Certain compounds in this herb influence levels of hormones. I am not aware of any studies that have evaluated the role of this herb in increasing levels of prolactin in those who have low levels.