(The Best Years in Life)
Vitex (vitex agnus-castus), the fruit
from the chaste tree, can be the best
friend of women during perimenopause,
the transition period between the
fertility of youth and the end of
fertility that is menopause. When
hormone levels have begun to drop and
have become out of balance, using Vitex
can not only bring relief from an array
of symptoms but also restore hormone
balance. The use of Vitex can also
eliminate many of the disorders that
plague women during this time in their
Vitex, which sometimes goes by the
nickname Monk’s pepper, has stood the
test of time, helping women through this
passage for thousands of years. Here are
some of the female complaints that can
be successfully treated with Vitex
Acne associated with the female cycle
Abnormal absence of menstruation
Painful menstrual periods, cramping
Excessively heavy periods
Sore and painful breasts during second
half of the cycle
Post partum depression
Problems during the birth process
Excessive discharge or buildup of mucous
Difficulty falling asleep, sleep
Other skin disorders
Natural healers throughout history such as
Hippocrates and Theophrastus used Vitex for many conditions, such as stopping
hemorrhages following childbirth. Decoctions of the fruit and plant were used in
a sitz bath to hasten recovery after childbirth and to treat diseases of the
In parts of Europe where herbal traditionalism has continued to flourish, Vitex
remains the most commonly used herb for the regulation of hormones and the
maintenance of homeostasis in women. In the U.S. the use of Vitex is increasing
as people have begun to realize that conventional medicine has little to offer
women at this stage of their lives except toxic hormone substitute drugs.
Although there is plenty of anecdotal information about Vitex, the workings of
its therapeutic effects are only now being researched to any great degree.
Recent studies have revealed the presence of compounds in Vitex able to balance
female hormones and spur the release of luteinizing hormone while inhibiting the
release of follicle stimulating hormone, a combination that can increase
fertility. James and Phyllis Balch, authors of the widely distributed book
Prescription for Nutritional Healing have noted that Vitex contains an abundance
of plant progesterone and testosterone that can be used to create hormone
balance and restore communication in the body.
Testosterone is the primary hormone in women, just as it is in men, and it is
one of the balancing hormones for the aggressive tendencies of estrogen.
However, testosterone begins to decline when women are in their late 20s. By the
time a woman is the throes of perimenopause, usually in the mid 30s,
progesterone levels are also in serious decline, leaving estrogen to run the
show alone. This condition is known as estrogen dominance, and it does not mean
a woman has too much estrogen. Instead it means she does not have enough of the
hormones that balance estrogen. Many of the disorders mentioned above are the
result of this situation, as is the beginning of breast cancer.
Vitex can work its magic as long as women are still able to produce estrogen,
progesterone and testosterone of their own, and they just need a boost. After
the entrance to menopause, Vitex looses much of its power and bioidentical
hormones are needed to maintain hormonal balance and body communication.
Recent research documents some of the benefits of Vitex
Disturbance in the metabolism of fats and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease are
two frequently associated conditions seen with hormone decline and dysregulation.
In research completed this spring, estrogen deficient rats that were treated
with Vitex extract showed significant reductions in body fat, and abnormal liver
function, as well as increased level of antioxidant enzymes.
When hormones decline receptors for them are open for the docking of
environmental hormones such as those found in car exhaust and air pollution.
Another study completed this spring investigated several natural plant
substances for their ability to dock into human hormone receptors, thus blocking
the docking of environmental hormones. They found that Vitex exhibited five
strong docking compounds, meaning it is able to block open receptors preventing
the docking for environmental hormones.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a prevalent and complex disorder
characterized by polycystic ovaries and several other unpleasant symptoms.
In a study published in late 2014, researchers reviewed 33 earlier studies to
determine what plant medicines may be effective against the disease. They found
that Vitex and five other herbal medicines displayed significantly beneficial
In August 2014 researchers evaluated Vitex for anti-cancer potential. They found
that Vitex exhibited a dose and time dependent ability to kill cancer cells and
inhibit their ability to multiply. In addition it was able to influence gene
expression toward the destruction of tumor cells and influence pathways leading
to leading to positive outcomes. Its antioxidant abilities were instrumental in
some of these actions.
Vitex is available in healthy image stores and online without a prescription.
Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.
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