Wondering How To Take Vitex? Here's The Easiest Way
Vitex, also known as chaste tree berry, is an herbal supplement which you can use to treat menstrual issues, menopause symptoms, infertility, and a few other conditions.
Research into Vitex is in the early stages, but the results are quite promising.
There are also a lot of fantastic anecdotal success stories (including mine).
But if you have never taken Vitex before, you might feel some confusion about how and when to take it.
Do you take Vitex every day of your cycle, or only during certain phases of your cycle? How many times a day do you take it? How much should you take?
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I will set out to answer these questions as best I can in this post.
The Specifics Depend on the Condition You are Treating.
Because Vitex can be used to treat a range of different conditions, the instructions for taking it depend largely on what your goal is.
If you are trying to get pregnant for example, that is a different goal than trying to reduce pain related to menstrual cycles.
So let’s look at how to take Vitex for a number of different purposes.
Remember, research into Vitex is still in the early stages.
For that reason, there still is not ample evidence to demonstrate which dosages and what timing are ideal for different purposes.
I am cobbling together the recommendations below based on what scientific research I could find along with anecdotal recommendations from real-life users.
I really get tired of seeing resources online which make recommendations on dosages for supplements like this one without including such disclaimers.
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There is a lot of contradictory information out there, and it cannot all be correct. So do your own research as well, monitor your symptoms while using Vitex, and consult with a healthcare professional if you are in any doubt.
How to Take Vitex for Fertility
Trying to get pregnant with the help of Vitex?
To form a recommendation, I turn your attention to this article.
Regardless of the issue you are trying to treat with Vitex, it is worth reading from top to bottom.
It is highly detailed and provides an excellent overview explaining why this herb is so helpful for a range of conditions.
Coming back to the matter of infertility, the article describes a study which was performed on 44 patients with luteal phase defects causing problems with fertility. The patients tried taking 40 mg of Vitex, which led to improvements in progesterone and estradiol levels.
The article reports, “Following this treatment ovulatory cycles were present in 93% and fertility rate was restored in 71.4% of the patients.”
So this gives you an idea for the dosage which may be appropriate (I will get into this more later as this is a somewhat complicated matter).
As to the timing, it is usually recommended that you take Vitex daily if you are trying to get pregnant.
When should you start? I have seen a variety of suggestions here, but based on most of the anecdotes I have heard, many women who achieve success taking Vitex for infertility are able to conceive within a few weeks to a few months of starting their treatment.
That means that you should be planning ahead. You do not want to start this supplement sooner than you are willing to get pregnant. Since there is so much variance in how long it takes to work (for those it works for), you should not get your hopes up that it will happen right away (I have seen some women report up to six months)—but you also should not gamble on it taking longer than a few weeks and then finding yourself unprepared if you do conceive early.
Can you take Vitex after you get pregnant?
I have seen very mixed claims about this. Some sources claim there is not enough data to conclude that doing this is safe.
Others claim that it is safe through your first trimester and possibly longer.
Personally, I believe in playing it as safe as humanly possible when you are pregnant. You should definitely talk to a doctor who is familiar with Vitex before you think about taking it during pregnancy.
Do this in advance so that you are not stuck making a last-minute decision.
- There is research backing Vitex for restoring fertility.
- It seems that it may take weeks or months of daily usage before conception occurs.
- Just 40 mg of Vitex a day produced great results in a study.
- You should consult with a medical professional before taking Vitex during pregnancy. It may be unsafe. Do not take unnecessary chances with your baby’s life.
How to Take Vitex to Regulate Your Cycles and Balance Your Hormones
While many women take Vitex to try and boost fertility, others take it to regulate imbalanced hormones for healthier cycles.
Your exact goals here may vary. For example, you could be trying to get your periods on a more regular schedule.
Or perhaps you are trying to reduce the symptoms of PMS.
Or maybe you have pain issues which fluctuate with your hormones, and you are trying to improve your overall quality of life.
Regardless, the standard recommendation is to take Vitex daily throughout your cycle.
Some people believe you should do so continuously without breaks.
Others suggest that you should take a break each month (i.e. 5 days off around your period) so that your body does not “adapt” to the herb, causing it to lose effectiveness.
Still others suggest continuous use for 3-6 months, then a month off, and then another 3-6 months of use, and so on.
Obviously, there is a lot of contradicting advice here. I suspect the reason for this is that there still is not adequate research to make more concrete recommendations.
There are also differences in how individual women’s bodies react to the herb.
In terms of dosages, WebMD states that 20-40 mg of Vitex each day have been used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
The site also reports that similarly small amounts (or smaller) have been used to treat PMS.
You can review quite a few relevant studies in the 2017 article I linked to earlier in Clinical Phytoscience.
I am going to talk more about dosages in a section below, but this at least gives you a starting point.
So let’s summarize what we’ve talked about in this section:
- If you are trying to regulate your menstrual cycles, you should take Vitex daily.
- You can consider using it continuously, taking a few days off each month, or using it continuously for a longer time period and then taking a more extended break. There does not appear to be conclusive evidence to state that any particular approach is best.
- Relatively small doses of Vitex (i.e. 40 mg and below) have been used in studies to treat PMDD and PMS.
I would like to point out that not every hormonal imbalance will necessarily respond to Vitex. For example, I have heard that results for PCOS can be mixed.
Vitex can be very helpful if you are trying to accomplish the following:
- Boost dopamine levels.
- Increase progesterone production.
- Reduce excess prolactin.
But if you have other goals in terms of hormone regulation, another treatment may be a better fit.
How to Take Vitex During Perimenopause
During perimenopause, intense fluctuations in hormones lead to a range of unpleasant symptoms.
For this reason, some women take Vitex as a treatment.
The thinking makes sense. Progesterone is one of the hormones which is decreasing during the years leading up to menopause.
Hypothetically, Vitex could help to stimulate progesterone production, evening it out a bit and reducing some of the symptoms.
At this point however, it is important to be aware that this use of Vitex is anecdotal.
Research is lacking which demonstrates Vitex’s effectiveness in this context.
Nonetheless, studies do point toward this as an are of potential use.
Consider this study from 2002. A questionnaire-based survey which studied the use of Vitex berry and leaf oils for treating menopausal symptoms reported, “Both oils were found to be effective, although the leaf essential oil appears to have a broader range of actions as it also addresses psychological aspects. As the berry is currently thought to be the active part of the plant, this begs the question of whether the leaf of the plant should also be researched in more detail.”
Another 2009 article stated, “We conclude that, while evidence from rigorous randomized controlled trials is lacking for the individual herb in this context, emerging pharmacological evidence supports a role for V. agnus-castus in the alleviation of menopausal symptoms and suggests that further investigation may be appropriate.”
I have not found any solid, consistent recommendations for how much Vitex to take for menopause or how often.
This does not seem to be a surprise, considering how under-studied it is.
My guess would be that you would probably do well to take it consistently on a daily basis.
This is after all how it is generally used to treat other conditions, as discussed.
Plus, perimenopause is characterized by inconsistency in many respects. Your hormone production is inconsistent, which is one reason you are experiencing symptoms.
Adding more inconsistency into the equation by starting and stopping Vitex or varying doses wildly or arbitrarily does not seem like it would likely be helpful.
- There is not enough research yet to say whether Vitex is effective for menopause symptoms or not.
- There is also insufficient research to establish a proper dosage or ideal timing.
- Because we are still awaiting research, defaulting to simple daily use seems like a sensible approach.
What Time of Day Should You Take Vitex?
In the next few sections, I want to answer questions involving timing and dosing of Vitex.
We will start with what time of day you should take Vitex, as this is the easiest question to answer.
I almost always see people recommend that you take Vitex in the morning without food.
The theory is that your pituitary gland should be more sensitive earlier in the day, and the Vitex should be more effective as a result.
Plus, for a lot of people, it is simply easy to remember to wake up in the morning and grab supplements first thing.
Do you have to take Vitex in the morning? No. I can say this with certainty since I take it at night.
The reason I take it at night is because for me that is easier to remember. I take most of my other supplements at that time, and I take them with food. That way they are easier to digest.
So if you are really concerned about optimizing the effects of Vitex, you can go ahead and take it in the AM as per common recommendations.
But you should feel comfortable taking it at any time of day. It should still be efficacious.
- Most people recommend taking Vitex on an empty stomach in the morning.
- If you want to take it at a different time of day, however, that is just fine too.
How Much Vitex Should You Take?
One of the most confusing things about Vitex involves dosages.
You already know that most of the time, low dosages of Vitex are what have been studied.
Indeed, it seems like just 40 mg a day is often enough to lead to positive effects.
But when you look at the Vitex products which are on the market, most are capsules which contain far larger amounts.
Indeed, it is much easier to find 400 mg of Vitex per capsule than 40 mg of Vitex per capsule.
Why is this the case? Honestly, I have no idea.
It worried me for a long time, because there is insufficient research to establish whether larger doses are even safe and effective.
But I have been taking Vitex for more than half a decade now, and so far I have not had a single adverse effect from doing so.
I started out by taking 400 mg capsules, because that was all I found for sale in my local town.
After a couple years, I felt like I should lower my dosage to be safe, so I found some 80 mg capsules and started alternating between the two to try and wean myself down to a lower dose.
This went on for some period of time without me noticing for certain whether there was any change in effectiveness.
Eventually, I stumbled across that article which I have linked to a couple of times article.
In it, I read this assertion: “Particularly VAC extracts with their low side effects seem favorable for the prevention of breast cancer by reducing mastodynia and fibrocystic mastopathy.”
Obviously, more research is needed to state whether this is definitively true. But it did stop worrying so much about both the dosage and the timeframe (see below) for using Vitex.
While data is lacking on both high-dosage Vitex and long-term use of Vitex, what data we do have does not suggest that this herb is anything but safe to use.
Additionally, it seems possible that it may have long-term health benefits such as helping to reduce the possibility of developing breast cancer.
That was enough for me personally to just stick with the regular 400 mg daily dose going forward.
As always, you are responsible for your own healthcare decisions. It is up to you to determine what you feel comfortable with.
- If you want to base your Vitex dosage specifically off of what has been researched, you will want to take a lower dosage (i.e. 20-40 mg). Products which contain such low dosages however are pretty rare.
- The majority of Vitex capsules contain around 400 mg. While there is not much research on a higher dosage like this, I can at least tell you anecdotally that it has worked fine for me so far, and I have been taking it for a number of years now.
How Long Can You Use Vitex?
Next up is another question which can lead to some confusion. As I talked about before, I have seen some people advise cycling Vitex on and off.
I have also seen some folks claim that you should not use Vitex longer than a year.
I have seen still more who claim you can use it clear up until perimenopause (an odd assertion, considering how many people use it during perimenopause to treat symptoms).
I recollect seeing from a reputable source (which I have not been able to find since, unfortunately), that Vitex can be used safely for “up to eight months.”
When I did some checking on that, I discovered that at the time, that was simply the longest research study yet run on the herb.
I was a little worried about using it as long as I have been. Without a lot of data after all, I was essentially using myself as a guinea pig.
So I took it upon myself to talk to my PA about the matter.
She took a look in a special research database which she said was not available to the general public, only to medical practitioners.
She was unable to find any indications that Vitex has serious adverse effects.
Her recommendation? She said that since I was experiencing only benefits from Vitex and no drawbacks, it seemed sensible to her that I just keep using it.
That was pretty much the last of my concern about the issue.
Now, there are a couple of other issues to be addressed here. The concerns about long-term Vitex use stem not just from worries about safety, but also from claims that the product may stop working as well after the body becomes used to it.
Is this possible? I do not see why not. Have I experienced it? Not that I have noticed.
Now, there is often an assumption that quitting or cycling an herb is always safer than using it continuously. That assumption seems prevalent with Vitex.
But I see a couple potential concerns with cycling or quitting:
1-Withdrawal symptoms. Some folks claim to have experienced these.
2-The underlying problem may not be solved, only masked. Sometimes your body will return to long-term health after a brief intervention with an herb like Vitex. But a lot of times, the dysfunction will simply continue and the symptoms will return.
If you are curious, the longest I skipped using Vitex was a week or so. I had no withdrawal effects.
So your mileage may vary. I would simply recommend caution if you do decide to cycle or quiet. You may want to reduce your dosages rather than stopping cold-turkey.
- There are a lot of claims made about how long you “can” or “should” use Vitex. They do not seem to have any solid backing.
- The longest period of time Vitex has been studied for is 8 months (so far as I can tell).
- This means there is no data on the safety or efficacy of Vitex for long-term use, positive or negative.
- Current data points toward Vitex being safe and relatively low in side effects (or even side-effect free) for most users.
- I personally have been using Vitex for more than 5 years without a reduction in efficacy or any obvious adverse effects.
- Some people do choose to cycle Vitex on or off for short or long periods.
- My PA told me she saw no reason I should discontinue using Vitex over the long term given the data available and my personal results.
My Vitex Routine
So now you have some perspective on how to use Vitex. As you can see, I have spent most of this article pointing out that a lot of folks claim they know more about Vitex than anyone really does.
I figure you might be feeling overwhelmed. My goal with this article was to really tackle this topic as fully as possible, not to overwhelm you.
So I want to give you a quick example of a simple, easy Vitex routine.
To that end, I will simply share my own Vitex routine with you. I take Vitex to treat chronic pain which gets worse with my follicular phase each month.
Here is how I take Vitex:
- 400 mg a day, 6-7 times a week (sometimes I like to give my body a break from all supplements for a day).
- I take my dose each evening with water and dinner.
- I take Vitex continuously without cycling off.
That is literally all there is to it. This has been my routine for years now, and it has worked great. I have never had any issues with effectiveness wearing off, and I have never had a single adverse effect.
You can try using my routine, or you can vary it up to suit your needs. If it works for you as is, excellent. If you prefer to cycle off of the supplement now and again, go ahead and give it a try and see if that fits with your body.
What to Look for in a Vitex Supplement
The supplements market suffers from some serious lack of regulation. As a result, you should always be very selective when purchasing a new supplement.
Here are my recommendations for choosing a high-quality Vitex product:
- Look for the proper dosage that you want to take. Vitex typically comes as a capsule (not a tablet), so it is pretty hard to split the dosages with any accuracy.
- Check both active and inactive ingredients to make sure the supplement you are purchasing has no unneeded additives.
- Consider seeing if the supplement has received third-party testing. This is becoming more and important with supplements in general. That being said, I have used about four different Vitex brands to date, and all of them have been effective. So I think on average, Vitex quality tends to be pretty decent.
- Choose a brand with a solid reputation. There are a few good options on the market right now.
- You do not really need to worry about
price. Vitex is actually a really affordable supplement, which is quite fortunate considering how effective it can be. It is amazing what a difference such a small expenditure can make in your life if this supplement is what your body needs.
Additional Tips for Getting the Most Out of Vitex
- Keep a log. When I started taking Vitex, I had immediate dramatic results, but this is not necessarily going to be the case for everyone. It all depends on your body and your intended purpose in using the supplement. For that reason, I suggest keeping a daily log to track your symptoms and doses. This will help you to objectively evaluate whether Vitex is working for you.
- Consider taking other supplements. While Vitex can do a lot on its own, you may want to consider combining it with other herbs, vitamins
andminerals which can help to address the underlying issue that you are attempting treat. This may give you more powerful results. For example, if you are trying to treat infertility, consider not just taking Vitex, but a lsotrying supplements like Myo-Inositol, vitamin D, folate and zinc.
- Follow healthy habits. When it comes to balancing hormones, it's best to take an overall lifestyle approach. Get plenty of exercise and rest, eat a nutritious diet, and avoid products which introduce unwanted xenoestrogens into your life.
Be consistent, and do not forget that the full results of Vitex do not manifest overnight. Give the supplement time to work.
Conclusion: Vitex Can be a Powerful Supplement, And Taking It Is Pretty Straightforward
I have managed to write quite a detailed guide on taking Vitex, but this is because there are so many arbitrary claims floating around that I felt a need to address them.
There are a lot of unanswered questions involving Vitex, because the research simply has not caught up yet.
But for now, it appears to be both safe and effective as a treatment for hormonal imbalance issues when taken properly.
Vitex has done wonders for my health and happiness. I hope that if you decide to give it a try that you get the same excellent results.