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Vitex agnus-castus

Vitex agnus-castus, also called Chaste Tree, is a flowering plant often used to alleviate premenstrual syndrome.

Our evidence-based analysis on vitex agnus-castus features 73 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Vitex agnus-castus

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Vitex agnus-castus is a supplement derived from berries. It is also called Vitex, Chaste Tree, or Chasteberry.

It is primarily used today to alleviate the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Vitex agnus-castus has outperformed placebo in numerous trials, and has been shown to be effective at reducing hot flashes, bloating, irritability, sleep disturbances, depressions, various mood disorders and even cramping associated with premenstrual syndrome.

Though animal evidence suggests that taking Vitex agnus-castus may increase estrogen and progesterone levels, further research is needed to confirm this effect. Vitex agnus-castus has limited use outside of its effects on premenstrual syndrome.

Vitex agnus-castus acts similarly to dopamine, by reducing prolactin levels, which are elevated during premenstrual syndrome. It may also act on the opioid system by releasing beta-endorphins, something the human body lacks during premenstrual syndrome.

Though Vitex agnus-castus has been used for a long time, by people that also use birth control, further research is needed to confirm its safety. It does not appear to interact with any pharmaceuticals, but because of the lack of evidence, pregnant or lactating women should not take Vitex agnus-castus.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Vitex agnus-castus supplements are based on the dry weight of the plant’s fruit. The standard dose is between 150-250mg. There are also two extractions of Vitex agnus-castus:

BNO 1095 is a 10:1 extraction and provides benefits at doses as low as 4 mg.

Ze 110 is a 6-12:1 extraction and provides benefits at doses of 20mg.

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Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine members

The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Vitex agnus-castus has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-b Strong Very High See all 11 studies
It appears to be quite potent in numerous placebo-controlled trials, and studies are overwhelmingly in agreement. However, the studies are generally at notable risk for bias, and publication bias was found in one meta-analysis from 2017, suggesting the possibility that its efficacy is inflated.
grade-b Notable Very High See all 5 studies
The increase in breast tenderness during PMS is ameliorated with vitex supplementation; the degree of benefit correlating with general reductions in PMS symptoms. Notable as supplements catering to breast tenderness are rare.
grade-c Notable - See study
Seems to reduce symptoms of migraines a bit more than other PMS related symptoms, but for the most part the reduction seen in migraines is solely a reduction of PMS symptoms.
grade-c Minor - See study
Can reduce PMS related anxiety but may not have any inherent anxiolytic effects; the potency correlates to the severity of anxiety during a menstrual cycle.
grade-c Minor - See study
Efficacy against cramps appears to correlate both with how severe the cramps are during PMS and the response to Vitex supplementation; potency seems variable.
grade-c Minor Very High See all 3 studies
Can attenuate depressive symptoms that occur during PMS secondary to reducing PMS symptoms in general.
grade-c Minor - See study
Can reduce insomnia that is a side-effect of PMS, although the influence on insomnia in other scenarios is not known.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Can reduce irritability as a side effect of PMS, no evidence as to whether this reduction in irritability applies to other persons (males) or periods that are not PMS.
grade-d - - See study
grade-d - - See study

Studies Excluded from Consideration

  • Duplication of a study already in the Trials Table[1]

  • Confounded in a multibotanical formula[2][3]

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Vitex agnus-castus

PMS update
We’ve updated the HEM for PMS. Alas, there’s little research on supplements other than Vitex agnus-castus, and besides a few vitamins and minerals, it’s unclear what’s worth looking into.

Things to Note

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Chaste Tree, VAC, Chasteberry

  • May interact with drug-metabolizing enzymes, but this has not yet been linked to any interactions with pharmaceuticals

  • Usage during pregnancy and lactation currently unexplored

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Click here to see all 73 references.