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Vitex and PCOS: Solution for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Hormone Circuit

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM

What are Vitex and PCOS?

Vitex agnus-castus (also called chaste tree or chasteberry) has been used for medicinal purposes in Europe for many years. In recent years, it’s often used to correct hormonal imbalances. In Germany, physicians prescribe Vitex for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms more than any other medication. It has been used by generations of herbalists as a natural remedy for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). However, it’s only fairly recently that this use has spread to the United States.

an unusual pair: vitex and PCOSVitex is a fruit plant. Found in the Middle East and Africa, the berries and leaves are used as a tonic for both female and male reproductive systems. Historically, it was often used to suppress womens’ libidos when their husbands were away from home fighting wars. It was also used by men, particularly in cases where they chose to be chaste for religious reasons.

More recently, Vitex has been used to relieve symptoms of PMS and PMDD in women. It also has been used effectively to relieve abnormal uterine bleeding disorders. Some evidence suggests that it may be useful in increasing female fertility and decreasing symptoms of menopause.

The Benefits of Vitex

Vitex won’t fix your PCOS or other disorders. But it can help alleviate or eliminate some of the symptoms such as:

  • Painful periods.
  • PMS
  • PMDD
  • PCOS
  • Estrogen Dominance
  • Menstrual period irregularities
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Breast tenderness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Fertility problems
  • Vaginal dryness

Alleviating these symptoms will not only improve your health overall. If you have AFS, it will also help to lower your stress levels and alleviate adrenal fatigue. This is essential if you want to recover from this disorder, as any symptoms of poor health will only increase the body’s demand for cortisol. This will worsen your adrenal fatigue as well as the associated circuit imbalances.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a fairly common endocrine disorder that occurs in around twenty percent of women. It can begin right after puberty and can affect your health and hormonal balance for years. The cysts that give the condition its name result from stunted ovulation. When you have PCOS, your eggs won’t mature properly in your ovaries and aren’t released during the menstrual cycle. Instead, they form cysts in the ovaries which can cause a variety of symptoms and problems including:

  • Multiple cysts on the ovaries
  • Either no menstrual cycle or irregular menses
  • Lack of ovulation
  • Infertility due to the lack of eggs
  • Increased hair growth on the face
  • Loss of hair on the head
  • Increased acne
  • Accumulation of fat around the waist
  • Darkened skin on the neck, groin, breasts, or under armpits

These symptoms not only cause embarrassment, they can also have a serious impact on your wellbeing, your mood, and your overall health. That’s why it’s important that you identify the causes of the problem as well as effective remedies such as vitex for estrogen dominance.

Causes of PCOS

PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalances. Hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland, the ovaries, the pancreas, and the adrenal glands and problems with all of these organs have been linked to the symptoms of PCOS.

The hormonal imbalance seen in PCOS occurs in both phases of the menstrual cycle. In normal menstrual cycles, progesterone and estrogen work in balance to prepare the ovaries for the release of mature eggs and the uterus for implantation of the fertilized eggs. If the eggs are not fertilized, they are expelled from the body during menses.

However, hormonal imbalances that occur in PCOS interrupt this normal cycle. In the first phase of the menstrual cycle, increased luteinizing hormone (LH) and decreased follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) are present. This allows for increased production of androgens and increased levels of estrogen.This leads to a state known as Estrogen Dominance, where the body has too much estrogen relative to progesterone. These conditions prevent the maturation of the follicles that contain eggs so they don’t mature as they should. In the second phase of the cycle, these immature eggs are not expelled from the body and are not fertilized. Instead, they remain in the ovaries, setting the stage for cysts to form.

Ovaries, vitex and PCOS

PCOS Contributing Factors

There are several important contributing factors to PCOS, but not direct cause has been identified yet. One of the most important factors is genetics. If another female in your family line has experienced symptoms of this condition, you are at a greater risk of developing it as well. Stress and excess weight can also increase your estrogen levels and contribute to PCOS.

Another important factor involved in PCOS is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance affects your body’s use of glucose and can lead to high blood sugar levels. The high insulin levels that occur with insulin resistance can stimulate the production of estrogen in the ovaries. This will contribute to estrogen dominance and worsen your PCOS symptoms.

These issues can all be very serious and impact your quality of life. But fortunately, you can help reduce these symptoms naturally by taking vitex for estrogen dominance. This is a particularly good remedy if you have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) and need to avoid harsh medications that could cause additional stress and poor health.

Vitex and PCOS Study Results

A large number of studies have been conducted regarding the use of Vitex for estrogen dominance. One such study was a literature review of laboratory and clinical trials involving Vitex and PCOS symptoms. Significant evidence was found supporting the idea that Vitex lowers prolactin, increasing the regularity of the menstrual cycle, and increasing fertility. Studies have also shown that vitex can help regulate the menstrual cycle.

Natural healing with vitex and PCOSA double blind study showed that Vitex for estrogen dominance was more effective than a placebo. After three months, it reduced prolactin levels, stabilized and normalized the menstrual cycle, and helped increase progesterone levels.

Another double blind, placebo controlled study showed serum prolactin levels reduced in patients treated with an extract of Vitex for estrogen dominance.

A study of sixty-seven women with disorders of ovulation and menstrual cycle experienced marked improvement in progesterone levels in the luteal phase of the cycle, increases in ovulation, and thirty-eight pregnancies.

In another study of women with high prolactin levels, the participants were given Vitex. The results showed lowered prolactin levels, normal luteal phase progesterone levels, and normal luteal phases in their menstrual cycles.

A study of women with amenorrhea were treated with Vitex. They experienced a restoration of a more natural hormonal balance and increasing menstrual cycle regularity.

The Link Between AFS and PCOS

There is a strong link between AFS and PCOS. AFS is caused by ongoing high stress levels as well as adrenal gland fatigue. The adrenal glands release cortisol during times of stress to help your body cope. This is a vital part of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response, which affects every organ and circuit in your body. But when you experience high stress levels over a prolonged period, as many people do in the modern world, this system can become unbalanced.

As adrenal fatigue sets in, these glands start to struggle to produce the cortisol that the body is demanding. This sets off imbalances throughout the body, resulting in declining health and an increasing inability to cope with stress. If not corrected, this can be a life threatening disorder.

The adrenal glands are part of the Hormonal Circuit, an interconnected system that also includes the ovaries and the thyroid. As the adrenals decline in health, the other two organs will also become unbalanced and start to malfunction. One of the ways this manifests is through worsening hormonal imbalances. As ovarian health and balance declines, the hormones the ovaries put out can become unbalanced and result in a variety of symptoms and disorders. That’s why estrogen dominance is very common in people who have AFS. These issues are often linked to interruptions in the menstrual cycle as well as symptoms of PCOS.

Unfortunately, the high stress levels associated with AFS can make alleviating this estrogen dominance difficult. Harsh medications only cause additional stress and may worsen the underlying issues, causing more problems in the long run. That’s why strategies such as using vitex for estrogen dominance can be so helpful when you have this disorder. They can help correct the imbalance safely, naturally, and gently.

The Best Ways to Correct Estrogen Dominance

Healthier options using vitex and PCOSThe major goals of remedies for PCOS are balancing hormone levels, decreasing insulin resistance, and obtaining or maintaining a healthy body weight. Typically, medical practitioners will use medications such as birth control pills to try to control hormonal imbalances. They will also put patients on an appropriate diet to reduce body weight and estrogen levels more naturally. A healthy diet is vital when you have PCOS. But any medications prescribed will have side effects, which can be particularly dangerous if you have AFS. They also don’t address the underlying causes of PCOS.

The best practice for physicians in treating this disorder is to have a multisystemic or whole body view. All too often, remedies for PCOS are symptom-based or single organ based and may not be as effective as needed. Adopting the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response is more comprehensive. This approach looks at how the multiple systems of the body interact with one another. When symptoms occur in one circuit, all other circuits are affected as well. So when the Hormonal Circuit is out of balance, it will affect the health and functioning of the other circuits as well. That’s why a multi-system perspective is needed when correcting estrogen dominance and PCOS.

One of the best ways of reducing estrogen dominance and symptoms of PCOS is to reduce estrogen load. This can be done with natural progesterone. Unfortunately, not everyone can tolerate this. For those who cannot accept natural progesterone, Vitex for estrogen dominance can be considered.

How Vitex for Estrogen Dominance Works

The exact mechanisms of how vitex for estrogen dominance works aren’t fully understood. However, it appears to work indirectly on the hormones progesterone and prolactin, which decreases fertility. This herb can’t fix infertility or other issues. However, it can support a healthy hormonal balance, which may reduce some of your symptoms.

Vitex appears to work on the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. These two structures are responsible for releasing and regulating hormones in the reproductive system. When Vitex for estrogen dominance is used in women who have PCOS, it helps regulate the pituitary and promotes a healthy balance of estrogen and progesterone. The balance between these hormones is essential for a healthy menstrual cycle and ovulation. Vitex may also stimulate the release of LH, a hormone that triggers ovulation and corpus luteum development, which will also help reproductive and hormonal health.

Vitex may also help by decreasing prolactin levels. It has been shown to bind to dopamine receptors, which reduces the secretion of this hormone along with estrogen and progesterone. This may help alleviate PMS symptoms.

Vitex is also a natural anti-inflammatory that may help reduce the inflammation associated with PCOS as well as the associated symptoms.

And finally, a double blind clinical study of women diagnosed with fertility problems showed more pregnancies in those treated with Vitex than in control groups.

Side Effects of Vitex for Estrogen Dominance

Overall, Vitex for estrogen dominance has very few side effects when properly used. In fact, it is one of the most gentle herbal medicines known. One review of the scientific literature regarding safety and side effects of Vitex showed that it posed no health risks. This is of added benefit if you have AFS and your body is sensitive to harsh chemicals. Vitex may be a safe and gentle way to help correct symptoms of PCOS or hormonal imbalances without causing additional stress or symptoms.

However, like any medication, vitex may cause side effects if you have a sensitive system naturally or because of AFS. Some of the uncommon side effects include upset stomach, nausea, rash, headaches, acne, and trouble sleeping.

Vitex is safe to use for up to 18 months. In fact, it is a relatively slow-acting herbal remedy, so it can take up to six months for the full effects to be seen. The benefits of using Vitex for estrogen dominance will increase as time goes by. Generally, a few months of use bring maximum benefits. Indeed, this may be a disadvantage of Vitex and PCOS.

Like most compounds, whether regular prescriptions or herbal remedies, Vitex has some contraindications. Here’s when you shouldn’t use vitex:

  • When breastfeeding.
  • If you take prescription fertility medications.
  • When undergoing in vitro fertilization.
  • If you have a hormone-sensitive condition.
  • If you’re taking medications for Parkinson’s disease or for any psychotic disorder.
  • When taking birth control pills.
  • If you take estrogen medications, which may interfere with vitex.

Birth control pills, vitex and PCOS

The Takeaway

You should always consult with your primary care physician before taking Vitex for estrogen dominance or any other herbal remedy. Although these natural solutions can be gentle, your body may react badly or they may interact with other conditions or medications. If you’re struggling with PCOS or symptoms of estrogen dominance, then here are some remedies that might help:

  1. Work with your doctor to design an eating plan that will help you get down to a healthy weight range.
  2. Talk to your doctor about safe remedies for hormonal imbalances.
  3. Find a medical practitioner who’s aware of AFS and can help you identify any underlying problems causing your hormonal imbalances.

If you have PCOS and want to try vitex for estrogen dominance, then discuss your options with the team at +1-626-571-1234 or click here to use the Ask The Doctor System.

© Copyright 2017-2020 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Natural healing with Vitex and PCOS

© Copyright 2001-2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
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