Chaste Tree – Vitex
Chaste Tree, Chinese Vitex, Vitex Berry: however you know this plant, most have heard of it or seen it in the women’s section where herbal supplements are sold. Vitex is a magical plant that I am convinced I cannot live without. As a woman, I have always dealt with the ailments associated with PMS. I started shedding when I was 14 and have always had an irregular cycle. When I was 21, I was diagnosed with PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). Along with irregular cycles, cramping and hormonal emotional changes, I would get very depressed during that time of the month, every month. I have tried hormonal birth control in order to help with cramps and irregularity and it resulted in one of the worst menstrual pains of my life. I’ve tried tracking my cycles, changing my diet, more exercise, less exercise, more stretching, no sugar or alcohol while menstruating, no junk food and meditation to cope with stress. You name it, I’ve tried it. Still, at 21 years old, I was dealing with massive breakouts, unhinged emotions and grueling PMS along with cramps during my cycle. For the next year, I had the copper IUD and I dealt with crippling cramps and heavy bleeding. I left it in for so long because they say the first 6 months are bad, but it is supposedto get better. It didn’t. After taking out the IUD, I was done with synthetic hormones. I turned to much more natural hormonal supplements and birth control. That’s when I found Vitex.
I’ve been taking Vitex for more than a year now and it’s helped me tremendously. In the last couple of months, I drifted away from taking my Vitex, for unconscious reasons, trying to lessen the amount of supplements I was taking, the cost and maybe hoping I didn’t need it anymore. I was villainizing my own body and thinking something was wrong with me for having such extreme hormone fluctuations. The truth is, it is a completely normal process of menstruation for your hormones to fluctuate. Most women have extreme fluctuations even resulting in endometriosis. Men also have hormonal changes throughout the month but that’s a whole other article.
Even the term PMS, Premenstrual Syndrome, makes you feel like something is wrong with you. I’ve always had an issue with that. This is not a syndrome, these are not symptoms of a disease, this is a miracle. It is a life giving force not to be reckoned with. It is a system that needs to be respected, the women to be honored to have the ability to give life, go through the pain of menstruation for 30 odd years, childbirth and still be strong enough to get up each day and get their work done. It is not often enough recognized how powerful women are. If you give us a house, we will create a home, give us sperm we will give you a baby, give us a startup company we will give you a multimillion dollar empire.
For centuries, women have used plant medicine to aid them in all aspects of life. Vitex was featured in Homer’s 6th-century BCE epic, the Iliad, as a symbol of chastity capable of warding off evil. The Chinese monks named it “Chaste tree”, thought chewing on the bark would reduce sexual desire. Today research has confirmed that it has hormonal impacts and is one of the most well known herbal supplements for women’s menstrual problems and infertility.
Thanks to my good friend for telling me how she started taking Vitex again and it made her have so much energy, I started taking my Vitex supplements every day about two weeks ago. Now I can see how much energy it gives me. I am sleeping better and I am much more level headed. I didn’t realize what a difference Vitex has made in my life. I look forward to having regular cycles, shorter with less pain, less PMS and less acne! Finally at 24 years old, I found what works and I’m not turning back.
Vitex berries taken in the morning have hormonal effects within the brain, leading to increased levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and melatonin. Through raised progesterone levels, Vitex promotes better hormonal regulations of the menstrual cycle which helps relieve irritability and lowered mood, headache, acne, breast tenderness and even infertility due to low levels of progesterone. The promoted regularities Vitex offers your hormones can be extended to more significant hormonal problems, including polycystic ovary syndrome, fibroids and endometriosis.
If you experience any of these extreme side effects of menstruation, I would recommend getting the highest quality Vitex supplement you can afford. I use Gaia herbs, ordered on Amazon for $16. Soon on The Villa our baby Chinese Vitex tree will grow big and strong and we will harvest the ripe berries in each Autumn. We are planting the tree in our new nut and berry orchard.
This is what works for me but remember that I am not a doctor. This represents my own research. If you plan to take Vitex, please first consult with your health care professional.