Herbal Medicine: Vitex Agnus-Castus for PMS
Herbal medicine continues to becomes more popular in the treatment of a variety of conditions. Among the many health concerns for which natural health products are sought out, Premenstrual Tension Syndrome (PMS) is one that stands out. Women who have to deal with premenstrual tension on a monthly basis will start to look for solutions to help them alleviate the symptoms.
A popular remedy that is used in the treatment of PMS is Vitex, a herb that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has become quite popular in the natural treatment of hormonal imbalances. The main active ingredients in this herb include: vitexin, casticin, agnuside, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, and alkaloids. Often found in the form of pills or tincture, the problem with the use of this herb is trying to find a correct standardized dose.
The traditional uses for this herb include:
1. Luteal Phase Defect: women who have trouble producing sufficient amounts of progesterone during the luteal phase may experience a shortened luteal phase. A shortened luteal phase is defined as <13 days between the mid-cycle spike of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and the day immediately before the onset of menstruation. Low levels of progesterone can contribute to increased pain sensitivity, changes in mood, increased likelihood of miscarriage in the first 7 weeks of pregnancy, and more.
2. Hyperprolactinemia: It has also been used to help lower mildly elevated prolactin levels. Prolactin reduces the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland and may decrease fertility.
3. Premenstrual Mastodynia: Vitex has often been used to help reduce cyclic breast discomfort that occurs in the premenstrual phase. This has been associated to the dopaminergic effect on the pituitary exerted by some of the active ingredients in the plant.
Current Scientific Evaluation:
While a recent Systematic Review found that almost all studies done on Vitex have shown benefit and reduction in symptoms being evaluated, there is still a need for more research on the herb in clinical trials with adequate duration of treatment (i.e. a few months) to accurately evaluate its efficacy.
1. Rafieian-Kopaei, M., & Movahedi, M. (2017). Systematic Review of Premenstrual, Postmenstrual and Infertility Disorders of Vitex Agnus Castus. Electronic physician,9(1), 3685-3689. doi:10.19082/3685
This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor or Primary Care Provider.