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Table of Contents > Articles > Vitex agnus castus, an herbal approach ...
Vitex agnus castus, an herbal approach to PMS

If you routinely experience the following symptoms up to two weeks before your period, you are probably among those women (about 40% of the population) that suffer from premenstrual syndrome, or PMS.

  • exhaustion
  • sleep disturbances
  • breast swelling
  • bloating
  • weight gain
  • acne
  • cravings for sweet
  • constipation, then diarrhea.

Emotional symptoms may include irritability, depression, anxiety, confusion, and feeling out of control. For some women, symptoms are severe and make life very difficult. While a healthy diet, vitamin supplements, rigorous exercise and relaxation techniques can go a long way toward alleviating PMS, herbs may also be helpful in quelling symptoms. Among herbs studied for the treatment of PMS, Vitex agnus castus (commonly known as chaste tree berry) is certainly the most extensively studied. German health authorities approve the use of chaste tree fruit for menstrual irregularities and premenstrual complaints. In one German study, vitex had a response rate of 90% among women who received treatment for 135 days or so.

Although some women using vitex may experience side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, mild skin rash, and increased acne, there have been no reports of toxic interactions involving vitex. One researcher has suggested that vitex may undermine the effectiveness of birth control pills and The German Commission E discourages using vitex during pregnancy. In contrast, herbalists and midwives in the United States occasionally recommend vitex during the first trimester to prevent miscarriage. Again, there is no documented evidence to support the use of vitex in this way. More research needs to be done on the varied use and efficacy of vitex.


References

Low Dog, T. The Use of Vitex for Premenstrual Syndrome. The Integrative Medicine Consult. October 2000.


Review Date: December 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

 
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