Vitex Agnus-Castus

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Uses

What is vitex agnus-castus used for?

Vitex agnus-castus tree is a shrub that is native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. The shrub has long, finger-shaped leaves, blue-violet flowers, and dark purple berries. The fruit and seed are used to make medicine.

Vitex agnus-castus is taken by mouth for:

Vitex agnus-castus is also taken by mouth to increase the flow of urine in men, for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and for reducing sexual desire.

Some people also take vitex agnus-castus by mouth for acne, nervousness, dementia, joint conditions, colds, upset stomach, spleen disorders, headaches, migraine, eye pain, body inflammation, fractures and swelling.

Some people apply vitex agnus-castus to the skin to flush out parasites and to prevent insect bites and stings.

How does it work?

There are not enough studies about how vitex agnus-castus works. Please discuss with your herbalist or doctor for more information. However, it is believed that vitex agnus-castus may affect many hormones that regulate women’s reproductive cycles.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using vitex agnus-castus?

Consult with your doctor or pharmacist or herbalist, if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription.
  • You have allergy with any substances of vitex agnus-castus or other medications or other herbs.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
  • You have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals.

The regulations for an herb are less strict than the regulations for a drug. More studies are needed to determine its safety. The benefits of taking this herb must outweigh the risks before use. Consult with your herbalist or doctor for more information.

How safe is vitex agnus-castus?

Vitex agnus-castus fruit is likely safe for most people when taken by mouth appropriately. Vitex-agnus-castus seed extract is possibly safe when applied to the skin appropriately.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Using vitex agnus-castus during pregnancy or breast-feeding is possibly unsafe. The concern is that vitex agnus-castus can interfere with hormones. Don’t use vitex agnus-castus if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Hormone-sensitive condition such as endometriosis; uterine fibroids; or cancer of the breast, uterus, or ovaries: Vitex agnus-castus can affect hormones and might affect estrogen levels. Don’t use vitex agnus-castus if you have a hormone-sensitive condition.

In vitro fertilization: Vitex agnus-castus can interfere with the effectiveness of in vitro fertilization. Don’t use vitex agnus-castus if you are undergoing this procedure.

Parkinson’s disease. Vitex agnus-castus contains chemicals that affect the brain. These chemicals affect the brain similarly to some medications used for Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, vitex agnus-castus might affect therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

Schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. Vitex agnus-castus seems to affect a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Some medications for mental disorders help to decrease dopamine. Therefore, taking vitex agnus-castus might affect therapy for certain mental disorders.

Side effects

What kind of side effects may I have from vitex agnus-castus?

Uncommon side effects include upset stomach, nausea, itching, rash, headaches, acne, trouble sleeping, and weight gain. Some women notice a change in menstrual flow when they start taking vitex agnus-castus.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about side effects, please consult your herbalist or doctor.

Interactions

What interactions may I have with vitex agnus-castus?

Vitex agnus-castus may interact with your current medications or medical conditions. Consult with your herbalist or doctor before using.

Products that may interact with vitex agnus-castus include:

  • Birth control pills

Vitex agnus-castus seems to change hormone levels in the body. Birth control pills contain hormones. Taking vitex agnus-castus along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you take birth control pills along with vitex agnus-castus, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom.

Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.

  • Estrogens

Vitex agnus-castus seems to change hormone levels in the body. Taking vitex agnus-castus along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.

Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.

  • Antipsychotic drugs

Vitex agnus-castus seems to affect a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Some medications for mental disorders help to decrease dopamine. Taking vitex agnus-castus along with medications for mental conditions might decrease the effectiveness of some medications for mental conditions.

Some medications for mental conditions include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), clozapine (Clozaril), fluphenazine (Prolixin), haloperidol (Haldol), olanzapine (Zyprexa), perphenazine (Trilafon), prochlorperazine (Compazine), quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), thioridazine (Mellaril), thiothixene (Navane), and others.

  • Dopamine agonists

Vitex agnus-castus contains chemicals that affect the brain. These chemicals affect the brain similarly to some medications used for Parkinson’s disease. Taking vitex agnus-castus with these medications might increase the effects and side effects of some medications used for Parkinson’s disease.

Some medications used for Parkinson’s disease include bromocriptine (Parlodel), levodopa (Dopar, component of Sinemet), pramipexole (Mirapex), ropinirole (Requip), and others.

  • Metoclopramide

Vitex agnus-castus seems to affect a certain brain chemical. This chemical is called dopamine. Metoclopramide (Reglan) also affects dopamine. Taking vitex agnus-castus along with metoclopramide might decrease the effectiveness of metoclopramide (Reglan).

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your herbalist or doctor before using this medication.

What is the usual dose for vitex agnus-castus?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

-For premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other conditions, doses vary a lot. The dosing depends on the formulation of vitex agnus-castus used. The following specific extracts of vitex agnus-castus have been used in studies at the doses shown:

  • A type of specific vitex agnus-castus extract Ze 440 (Prefemin, Zeller AG) 20 mg daily.
  • A specific vitex agnus-castus extract BNO 1095 (Agnucaston/Cyclodynon, Bionorica AG) 20 mg daily.
  • One capsule (Femicur) containing 1.6-3.0 mg of dried fruit extract (6.7-12.5:1) twice daily.

-For premenstrual dysphoric disorder: 20-40 mg/day.

Crude herb extracts are typically used in doses of 20-240 mg per day up to 1800 mg per day in 2-3 divided doses.

The dose for vitex agnus-castus may be different for every patient. The dose that you take depends on your age, health, and several other conditions. Herbs are not always safe. Please discuss with your herbalist or doctor for your appropriate dosage.

What form does vitex agnus-castus come in?

Vitex agnus-castus may be available in the following forms:

  • Encapsulated vitex agnus-castus extract
  • Vitex liquid extract

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: September 7, 2017 | Last Modified: September 8, 2017

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