Could Chaste Tree Berry Extract Be the Headache Remedy You’ve Been Looking For?
Are you a woman who suffers from migraines, especially tied to your menstrual cycle? If so, you may have heard about an herbal supplement for hormonal imbalance called “chaste tree berry extract,” and may be wondering whether it can help you with your headaches.
I’m going to tell you all about chaste tree berry. But first I want to tell you a story.
Headaches have been an issue for me my whole life. But they didn’t become a major issue until one day when I was 21 years old.
It started out like any other day, but it didn’t end like one. I remember the moment the headache struck in the car. It seemed at first like an ordinary migraine. Maybe I was dehydrated, or my muscles were tense from driving. Either way, I reasoned it’d go away in a few hours.
It didn’t. Not only that, but I’d become aware on an instinctual level that something had changed in my body. This wasn’t an ordinary headache. It wasn’t going away—and it wasn’t going to go away. Not anytime soon.
As it turned out, my instincts were dead on target. The months to follow were excruciating and unrelenting. There was no break in my pain except while I was asleep.
I met a guy while I was dealing with all this whose eyes were red all the time. One day he told me the reason was that he had a migraine that never let up, and had been in horrific agony for years.
“You’ll get used to it,” he said. “I did.”
That moment was a life-defining one for me. I realized I didn’t want to be that guy—that I couldn’t be that guy. I would not get used to it. If I ever did, it’d be at the loss of something essential in myself.
I would find a way to be happy again, and pain-free. If not pain-free, as close to pain-free as I could be.
My Search for Solutions
At that point, I devoted myself to finding a way to change my life. First, of course, came all the doctor’s appointments which led nowhere.
As a migraine sufferer, you probably already have experience with this. If you have complained to your doctor about headaches, you probably have been met with a degree of skepticism.
I had doctors who thought I was making up my complaints, and others who believed me but didn’t have a clue what could be causing my pain, because there was “nothing wrong with me” according to their various blood tests.
I tried a whole slew of different things to try and get my pain to reduce. I found that some things were helpful in managing the pain (like heat or ice), but there were only a couple of things making a major difference in terms of an overall reduction:
- Chiropractic treatments
It turned out I actually have two things wrong with me, both of which were missed by doctors.
The first is TMD. My jaw is out of alignment, so this causes my vertebrae to be pulled out of alignment in my neck. This, in turn, put strain on my muscles, which causes tension headaches.
The other thing that turned out to be wrong is a hormonal disorder called “estrogen dominance.” Estrogen dominance isn’t widely acknowledged by medical professionals, but I can tell you from agonizing firsthand experience that it is most definitely a thing.
Anyway, as to “time,” there were two observations I made about that.
- First of all, my pain very gradually reduced over time.
- Secondly, because it wasn’t at the highest possible pitch of agony at all times anymore, I was able to observe some ups and downs—and I discovered that they were distinctly cyclical.
My pain would be at its worst during and especially right after my period. Before my period, it was usually reduced significantly.
Clearly, my pain was tied to my menstrual cycles, and therefore presumably to my hormones.
That meant that if I wanted to do something to treat it, I needed to treat the hormonal issue at work.
What is Estrogen Dominance?
I looked all over the place for an explanation of what would cause headaches after periods and some degree of relief before. It seemed backward. We’ve all heard of pre-menstrual syndrome, but who has ever heard of “post-menstrual syndrome?”
By this point I had been fighting my pain for a number of years—I believe it was around five by that point.
Things had gotten to the point where I actually had good days, and my bad days weren’t usually all bad anymore—there were typically some relatively painless hours in them.
I can’t remember the exact search string I put into Google which finally got me the information I was seeking, but I do recall the excitement of that day.
I finally found out what ‘post-menstrual syndrome” was called, and the term was “estrogen dominance.”
Estrogen dominance is a condition where your estrogen-to-progesterone ratio is off. You body manufacturers too much estrogen relative to progesterone.
This doesn’t always work the way you’d think. Because it is the ratio which is relevant, there are a lot of possibilities. For example:
- You might produce a “normal” amount of progesterone but a very high level of estrogen.
- You could produce a standard amount of estrogen or even a low amount, but very little progesterone.
- You could also have a sharp decline in progesterone production relative to estrogen right before your period, causing PMS symptoms.
Check out this graph:
That shows you what estrogen and progesterone are supposed to be doing throughout your menstrual cycle.
Indeed, your hormones probably do follow that path, but if the ratios are off, headaches and other nasty symptoms could occur at any point where the ratios are less than optimal.
I theorize that I feel better before my period (overall) because that is where you see the widest gap between progesterone and estrogen production. My body leans toward actually getting the ratio closer to correct around that time.
During those ten days right after my period, on the other hand, you can see that while estrogen is low, progesterone is practically a flat-line. No wonder I feel so bad around that time. Whatever little bit of progesterone I am supposed to be making around that time, I probably am barely making at all.
Also, see where progesterone drops below estrogen around day 27? Usually, around day 25-27, I get one, particularly pronounced (usually isolated) a migraine. I think that my progesterone falls off more quickly and dramatically than it is meant to at this time, thus that one headache. I suspect that this same issue causes PMS for a lot of women.
So if you have estrogen dominance, it could be causing you headaches before or after your period. Along with headaches, you can also expect fatigue, dizziness, weight gain, acne, and a slew of other annoying symptoms. I have been through these as well. Most of them were really bad when the headaches started, but have tapered off over time.
One more thing I would like to add is that estrogen dominance symptoms are very similar to those of perimenopause or menopause.
I have written on this topic extensively in my article, “Estrogen Dominant Treatment: How to Get Your Symptoms Under Control and Get Back to Living Your Life.”
What is the connection? Well, in perimenopause, your hormone production is dropping off.
While a lot of symptoms may be attributable to your declining estrogen production, if your progesterone is falling off even faster, you could be estrogen dominant and may experience estrogen dominance symptoms as a result as well.
Estrogen Dominance Symptoms
Here is a quick list of symptoms that are associated with estrogen dominance. Check your own symptoms against this list:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Tenderness in the breasts
- Swelling in the breasts
- Changes in mood
- Sleep disorders
- Sex drive changes (usually a drop in libido)
- Irregular periods
- Missed periods
- Especially painful periods
- Brain fog
- Thyroid issues
If your hormones are imbalanced, you also are at a higher risk for developing serious disorders such as cancer.
If you’re curious how many of the symptoms above I have had, the answer is … all of them except the hair loss and the thyroid problems.
If you are curious how many I have currently, the answer is “fewer,” though still a lot of them. But it’s only the headaches that cause me substantial issues these days.
One of my doctors told me that it is common for a lot of women in their early 20s to experience hormonal upheaval, and then things tend to settle to a new “normal.”
I would say that is probably what happened to me, which is why time led to some improvements. But things never really settled to a “balanced” state. They became less imbalanced with time, but are still not exactly healthy.
Take note that there are a number of other health conditions which can mimic estrogen dominance. So even if you have a lot of symptoms on this list, you should see a doctor to rule them out first. Thyroid disorders, for example, can look a lot like estrogen dominance.
Once I had an idea what was going on in my body, I finally was able to start narrowing down my search for solutions.
I ended up reading up on a number of different herbal supplements, vitamins, and minerals which are all thought to play a role in keeping estrogen and progesterone levels balanced.
In the end, I decided to start taking a few of these vitamins and minerals. I tried out magnesium, vitamin B complex, folate, and zinc.
After researching the herbs in-depth, the one which seemed like it was most likely to be a fit for my situation was chaste tree berry. So I gave it a try. And guess what? It made a world of difference.
What Exactly Is Chaste Tree Berry?
Chaste tree berry, sometimes just called “chaste berry” or “chasteberry”,” is an extract from the Vitex agnus-castus plant. For that reason, it is also frequently called “Vitex.” Both the fruit and seeds of the plant are used to make the extract.
Wondering why it is called “chaste tree?” To this day, I’m still wondering. Supposedly monks used to make use of chasteberry in order to curb their libidos. This is somewhat surprising to me because using chaste tree most definitely has increased my libido.
My guess is that whether chaste tree affects your libido in a certain way will come down to what type of hormonal imbalance you have, and what effect that imbalance is having on you.
Basically, if you are experiencing lower sex drive because of your imbalance, and chaste tree manages to correct it, you will probably have an increase in libido. If the opposite is the case, perhaps you will experience a decrease in sex drive, like the monks.
In any case, chaste tree berry is used for a variety of different purposes. The ones WebMD lists include:
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Repelling fleas and ticks
- Breast pain
- Menopause symptoms
- Miscarriage prevention
- Boosting lactation
- Enlarged prostate
Estrogen dominance doesn’t even make the list, oddly enough. Well, maybe it isn’t that odd considering that estrogen dominance isn’t even recognized by the medical community.
How effective is it for all of these uses? At this point, that is a big “unknown.” WebMD says there is evidence that chaste tree berry is “possibly effective” for only PMDD and PMS, and that there is insufficient evidence to say anything about the rest.
I am not a medical doctor, so I cannot say anything definitive regarding chaste tree berry on a scientific level. I only know that I tried a lot of different things to treat my migraines for many years. Many of them were totally ineffectual. None—other than chiropractic treatments—made as dramatic a difference as chaste tree berry.
How Does Chaste Tree Berry Work in the Body?
Not only are scientists not sure what chaste tree berry’s effects are in terms of treating various health conditions, but they are also not sure what mechanism it acts through at all.
The closest thing I have found to an explanation is that chaste tree berry may work as a dopamine agonist. Through this pathway, it may somehow help balance out hormone production. I wish I could give a better explanation, but I am still waiting for one myself.
One good thing about chaste tree berry is that there is currently no research-based evidence that suggests that it is in any way dangerous for most users, even when used over long time periods.
Side effects are uncommon on the whole, though I have seen a number of women complain on forums that their periods became irregular when they started up with it. Most reported that after a few months, their cycles became regular again.
Is there anyone who should avoid chaste tree berry? Yes—you should steer clear if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a hormonal condition which may react adversely, or are getting in-vitro fertilization. Any person being treated with a dopamine agonist should also talk to a doctor before trying chaste tree berry. Also be aware that birth control pills and chaste tree berry may adversely interact.
My Chaste Tree Berry Experience
Coming back around to my story, I started out with the chaste tree berry with very little in the way of expectations. It seemed intuitively like it made sense, but I’d had dozens of disappointments in trying to treat my headaches, so I can tell you I was projecting failure.
So imagine my surprise when I noticed a big difference almost immediately. I would say within about five days I was pretty sure that the chaste tree berry was helping.
That was too early to draw any conclusions, though, so I continued with my “wait and see” mentality.
After several weeks, I had enough data to say with a strong degree of confidence that the chaste tree berry had to be responsible for the improvements I was experiencing.
To get more concrete about it, I would say that the frequency of my migraines dropped by about half during that timeframe. The severity I would likewise say was cut in half for most of them.
After years of struggle, I can’t tell you what a big breakthrough that was! I had heard that chaste tree berry continues to produce more and more improvements the longer you take it, so I stuck with it.
I can confirm that is indeed exactly what happened. As the next few months unfolded, the frequency and severity of my migraines continued to reduce. Within a few months after that, I can say that I finally started getting to the point where I felt “normal” on most days—more or less like I had before the nightmare started.
While I obviously cannot prove that it was the chaste tree berry that did this, I have no reason to believe otherwise. I certainly didn’t manage to psych myself into getting a placebo effect from anything else over all those years.
Today, I still take chaste tree berry. I have never gotten to the point of being “cured” of my estrogen dominance, but this simple herbal treatment keeps it manageable. I am so glad that I never gave up trying to get better. I will never take a pain-free day, hour or minute for granted ever again.
Do I think chaste tree berry is a miracle cure for all migraines? No. But if your migraines are connected to an imbalance in your hormones, it is well worth giving it a try. If it is even half as effective for you as it has been for me, it will give you a new lease on life.
Chaste Tree Berry Q&A
Q: How much chaste tree berry should I take?
A: One capsule a day seems to work fine for me. The dosages you will find for sale vary. They tend to be high, around 400 mg. I don’t know why it is so hard to find lower dosages, considering that only 20-40 mg has received research. If you can manage to find a lower dosage, go ahead and give it a try. If not, go with what you can get.
Q: How long can I take chaste tree berry?
A: One reference I saw (and misplaced) said that chaste tree berry can be safely used for as long as eight months. I have found no research at all to suggest adverse effects past the eight-month duration. As there is no data, right now there is no way to say for sure if it is safe or unsafe to use it for longer than that. When I talked to my physician assistant, she suggested I continue. It is a calculated risk against the known risks of allowing hormonal imbalance to go unchecked.
Q: Should I take chaste tree berry on its own or with other supplements?
A: That is up to you. It does work well on its own, but you can also take it combined with other herbs, vitamins, and minerals for combating migraines for an even more powerful effect. Eu Natural’s own My Brain! supplement contains chaste tree berry blended with boswellia, feverfew, ginger extract, butterbur, and BioPerine.
Unlike a lot of other supplement companies, Eu Natural has opted to keep the dosage of chaste berry low at around 50 mg per capsule. This is more in line with the amount which has received testing during research studies than the excessive dosage used in most other products. This makes it a gentler, safer, more moderate alternative.
Conclusion: Chaste Tree Berry Can Be a Huge Help Treating Migraines Associated with Estrogen Dominance
For me, the years since I started dealing with estrogen dominance and migraines have been a rollercoaster ride, and in the beginning, there were a lot more downs than ups.
One of the few good things about going through something like this is that I can use my experiences to help other people. Hopefully, if you give chaste tree berry a try, you will have the same excellent results as me, and you will get back to feeling like yourself a lot faster than I did without having to make so much effort. No matter what, never give up trying to get your migraines under control. Eventually, you will find your breakthrough!
Read Next: The Top 8 Natural Migraine Headache Remedies