By Dr Jillian Stansbury: Botanical Medicine Clinician, Researcher, and Ethnobotanist, Associate Professor Botanical Medicine, Scientific Advisor for Restorative Formulations
Vitex agnus castus or Chaste Tree Berry has been used for centuries to treat menstrual, menopausal and fertility disorders in women, and has now become established as a valuable medicine to consider in treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).   Elevated prolactin and testosterone levels are the hallmarks of PCOS and Vitex can reduce elevated prolactin[1],[2], [3],[4] and testosterone[5], contributing to the age old usage of the plant for women with amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea, both common in PCOS.  Vitex may also optimize progesterone levels[6], elevated estrogens, and altered TRH (Thyroid Releasing Hormones) from the hypothalamus[7], all helping promote ovulation, regulate menstruation, and support fertility.
Animal studies have shown Vitex fruit extracts to exert hormonal effects by promoting dopaminergic[8] pathways in the brain, which in turn regulates pituitary hormones[9].  Furthermore, Chaste tree berry has been shown to bind opiate receptors[10],[11],[12] which also promotes dopaminergic activity.  Casticin[13], a bioflavonoid in Vitex, as well diterpenes[14] may reduce elevated prolactin levels[15], and radioligand studies of Chaste Tree fruit extracts confirm that diterpenes bind type 2 dopamine receptors and all subtypes of opiate receptors.[16]  Promotion of dopaminergic activity will reliably reduce hyperprolactinemia[17], and Vitex may also reduce elevated luteinizing hormone and normalize the resultant elevated testosterone[18], that contributes to PCOS-associated acne and hirsuitism.
One clinical trial conducted by Stanford University’s Obstetrics and Gynecology department compared the use of Chaste Tree Berry to placebo in 93 women with infertility.  After 3 months, progesterone levels in the women on the Chaste Tree Berry were increased compared to those receiving the placebo.  Furthermore, 13 of the 53 women receiving Chaste Tree Berry achieved pregnancy,[19] while none of the women on the placebo became pregnant.
Another clinical trial dosed women with luteal phase defects due to elevated prolactin, either 20 mg Chaste Tree Berry or placebo.  The elevated prolactin was reduced and menstrual cycles were normalized after 3 months in only those receiving the verum.  Estradiol levels were also noted to increase in the luteal phase for those taking the Chaste Tree Berry, with all other hormonal parameters being the same.[20]
These findings explain how Vitex found its way to be one of the most important herbs to normalize the menstrual cycle in ancient time, and how modern research supports the use of the plant for women with PCOS.
As a clinician and herbal researcher I know it is always important to use the cleanest herbs and herbal extracts available.  When possible always choose CERTIFIED ORGANIC.


[1] Med Monatsschr Pharm. 2009 May;32(5):186-91. The premenstrual syndrome: effectiveness of Vitex agnus castus. Döll M1.
[2] Phytomedicine. 2003 May;10(4):348-57. Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)–pharmacology and clinical indications.  Wuttke W1, Jarry H, Christoffel V, Spengler B, Seidlová-Wuttke D.
[3] Maturitas. 2009 Aug 20;63(4):369. Are changes of prolactin levels the effectors of vitex agnus castus beneficial effects on the pre-menstrual syndrome?  Tamagno G.
[4] Phytomedicine. 2007 Oct;14(10):668-74. Anti-nociceptive and anti-hyperprolactinemia activities of Fructus Viticis and its effective fractions and chemical constituents.  Hu Y, Xin HL, Zhang QY, Zheng HC, Rahman K, Qin LP.
[5] Pak J Biol Sci. 2007 Jul 15;10(14):2300-7. The effects of Vitex agnus castus extract and its interaction with dopaminergic system on LH and testosterone in male mice. Nasri S1, Oryan S, Rohani AH, Amin GR.
[6] Nat Prod Res. 2008 Apr 15;22(6):537-46.Gynecological efficacy and chemical investigation of Vitex agnus-castus L. fruits growing in Egypt.  Ibrahim NA, Shalaby AS, Farag RS, Elbaroty GS, Nofal SM, Hassan EM.
[7] Planta Med. 2013 May;79(7):562-75.  Vitex agnus-castus extracts for female reproductive disorders: a systematic review of clinical trials. van Die MD1, Burger HG, Teede HJ, Bone KM.
[8] BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Dec 18;14(1):511.  Herbal medicine for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and associated oligo/amenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism; a review of the laboratory evidence for effects with corroborative clinical findings.  Arentz S, Abbott JA, Smith CA, Bensoussan A.
[9] Nat Prod Res. 2008 Apr 15;22(6):537-46.  Gynecological efficacy and chemical investigation of Vitex agnus-castus L. fruits growing in Egypt. Ibrahim NA1, Shalaby AS, Farag RS, Elbaroty GS, Nofal SM, Hassan EM.
[10] Biochem Pharmacol. 2011 Jan 1;81(1):170-7. Opioidergic mechanisms underlying the actions of Vitex agnus-castus L.  Webster DE, He Y, Chen SN, Pauli GF, Farnsworth NR, Wang ZJ.
[11] Phytomedicine. 2000 Oct;7(5):373-81. Pharmacological activities of Vitex agnus-castus extracts in vitro. Meier B1, Berger D, Hoberg E, Sticher O, Schaffner W.
[12] J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Jun 30;106(2):216-21. Activation of the mu-opiate receptor by Vitex agnus-castus methanol extracts: implication for its use in PMS. Webster DE1, Lu J, Chen SN, Farnsworth NR, Wang ZJ.
[13] Horm Metab Res. 1993 May;25(5):253-5.  Agnus castus extracts inhibit prolactin secretion of rat pituitary cells.  Sliutz G, Speiser P, Schultz AM, Spona J, Zeillinger R.
[14] Phytomedicine. 2003 May;10(4):348-57.  Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)–pharmacology and clinical indications.  Wuttke W, Jarry H, Christoffel V, Spengler B, Seidlová-Wuttke D.
[15] Nat Prod Res. 2008 Apr 15;22(6):537-46.  Gynecological efficacy and chemical investigation of Vitex agnus-castus L. fruits growing in Egypt. Ibrahim NA1, Shalaby AS, Farag RS, Elbaroty GS, Nofal SM, Hassan EM.
[16] Phytomedicine. 2000 Oct;7(5):373-81. Pharmacological activities of Vitex agnus-castus extracts in vitro. Meier B1, Berger D, Hoberg E, Sticher O, Schaffner W.
[17] Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008 Sep;5(3):247-50. Can Vitex Agnus Castus be Used for the Treatment of Mastalgia? What is the Current Evidence? Carmichael AR1.
[18] Pak J Biol Sci. 2007 Jul 15;10(14):2300-7.  The effects of Vitex agnus castus extract and its interaction with dopaminergic system on LH and testosterone in male mice.  Nasri S, Oryan S, Rohani AH, Amin GR.
[19] Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol. 2006;33(4):205-8.  Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Fertilityblend: a nutritional supplement for improving fertility in women.  Westphal LM, Polan ML, Trant AS.
[20] Arzneimittelforschung. 1993 Jul;43(7):752-6. Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinemia. Results of a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study.Milewicz A1, Gejdel E, Sworen H, Sienkiewicz K, Jedrzejak J, Teucher T, Schmitz H.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.