Long acknowledged in the ancient world as a valuable medicinal herb, this lovely shrub has only recently been introduced into the herbal materia medica of the United States. Because of the interest surrounding the herb, extensive research and clinical studies have been conducted on it and much is known about the effects of the plant on the human body. Vitex has a stimulating effect on the pituitary gland, which among other functions regulates and normalizes hormone production. Studies verify that vitex increases the production of luteinizing hormones, enhancing the progesterone cycle. At the same time it inhibits the release of the follicle-stimulating hormone, FSH and normalizes the estrogen cycle. It is an excellent herb for restoring and regulating the estrogen/progesterone balance.
Vitex's normalizing and balancing action is particularly beneficial in treating painful and irregular menstruation, infertility, PMS, menopausal problems, and other hormonal imbalances. It has been found helpful in the treatment of endometriosis and is also useful in normalizing the system after discontinuing birth control pills. Because it stimulates the production of prolactin, vitex is often given to nursing mothers to help ensure a healthy supply of milk. As a birthing aid and to stimulate the milk flow, take vitex one week before the birthing date and for ten days thereafter.
Vitex may be used for acute situations but it is most effective if taken over a prolonged period of time. For chronic problems, such as menstrual irregularities, endometriosis, infertility, and delayed menstruation, vitex should be taken for up to one year or longer. No side effects have ever been reported from extensive and extended use of this plant. It is one of the most useful herbs for women and should definitely be included in your herbal pantry.