PMS Symptoms, Hot Flashes, Acne & More
Do you suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), cramps, irregular periods, uterine fibroids, infertility or menopause (hot flashes), hormonal induced acne?
Vitex, also known as chasteberry, is one of the most popular herbal remedies for PMS and cramps. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine found that after being treated with vitex for three menstrual cycles, 93 percent of patients reported a decrease in the number of PMS symptoms or a complete end of PMS complaints. In addition to reducing unwanted premenstrual symptoms, it also treats some menopausal symptoms as well as hormonally induced acne.
Herbs like vitex are natural ways you can strengthen and tone your body’s systems. The medicinal ability of chasteberry to positively affect hormonal health issues appears to be derived from dopaminergic compounds present in the herb. How exactly does vitex encourage hormonal balance? While it doesn’t supply hormones to the body, it does act directly on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.
For women, it increases luteinizing hormone, modulates prolactin and aids in the inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormone, which all helps balance out the ratio of progesterone to estrogen, slightly raising the levels of progesterone. It’s important to keep in mind that chasteberry is not actually a hormone, but rather an herb that helps the body raise its own levels of progesterone.
But vitex is not only for women with hormonal issues that need fixing. It’s recently been shown to exhibit antitumor activities in different human cancer cell lines, and that’s not all. Keep reading to find out all of the incredible health advantages it holds and also other natural remedies that may help.
Vitex can interfere with some medications, including birth control, antipsychotics and estrogen supplements like those used with in-vitro fertilization treatments. Speak with your doctor before trying vitex and or any other remedies mentioned here especially if you are taking any of these medications.
Vitex, while it’s extremely beneficial for women, it’s also useful for men. For instance, it’s been shown to relieve PMS symptoms, reduce uterine fibroids, improve female fertility, clear up acne, treat endometriosis, remedy amenorrhea, possibly promote lactation, lower menopausal symptoms and treat an enlarged prostate.
PMS for a woman, inappropriately increased production of prolactin may be a factor in cyclic breast tenderness and other PMS symptoms. Vitex is believed to work well at reducing PMS symptoms because it suppresses the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. Numerous studies suggest that chasteberry may help reduce symptoms of PMS, including breast tenderness, headache and irritable mood. (4) In one review conducted by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the University in Australia, five out of six studies found vitex extracts to be superior to a placebo for treating PMS.
The most common variety of vitex used medicinally is chaste tree, which produces chasteberry (Vitex agnus-catus), a small brown berry fruit about the size of peppercorn.
***Consult your doctor before trying these remedies.***
Vitex or chasteberry is available in many different forms in your local health store or online. The dried, ripe chasteberry is used to prepare liquid extracts or solid extracts that are put into capsules and tablets. If you’re not a fan of capsules or tablets, then the liquid extract is a great choice. You can also easily find vitex in tea form on its own or combined with other herbs that promote hormonal balance. You can also order the dried berries and make your own tincture at home. Some recommended doses of vitex have been as follows:
For PMS: 400 milligrams daily before breakfast
For uterine fibroids: 400 milligrams twice daily
For infertility: 160–240 milligrams daily
For acne: 160 milligrams daily
For endometriosis: 400 milligrams twice daily
For menopause: 160–240 milligrams daily
Vitex Potential Side Effects & Caution
Vitex supplements are typically safe for most people when taken by mouth in appropriate dosages. Uncommon vitex side effects include upset stomach, nausea, rash, acne, itching, headaches, difficulty sleeping and weight gain. When some women begin taking vitex, they notice a change in menstrual flow.
If you’re pregnant, have a hormone-sensitive health condition — such as endometriosis or breast cancer — or if you have a history of mental illness or Parkinson’s disease, then talk to your doctor before taking vitex in any form.
Vitex can interfere with some medications, including birth control, antipsychotics and estrogen supplements like those used with in-vitro fertilization treatments. Speak with your doctor before trying vitex if you are taking any of these medications.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors found within the uterine walls, often resulting in a change in the size or shape of the uterus as well as several unpleasant symptoms. A key way to prevent and reduce uterine fibroids is to maintain a proper balance of hormones. Chasteberry can help to balance the ratio of estrogen to progesterone.
Acne... Hormone imbalances and fluctuations can be a the root of acne, especially if you’re a woman. If you experience monthly outbreaks of acne, especially along your jawline and chin, vitex might be a perfect acne natural remedy. It can balance your hormones, which can reduce acne formation in women. Preliminary research suggests that it might help clear premenstrual acne, as well, possibly by regulating hormonal influences.
Hot Flashes... My favorite combination that seems to get excellent results for hot flashes includes 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed daily, Black cohosh and Vitex twice daily, and very dedicated help with Stress Relief and stress management habits. And perhaps maca root powder. Chronic stress depletes adrenal output which can deplete progesterone and cause imbalance in estrogen receptor sensitivity.
Let’s bust a myth that hot flashes mean someone has low estrogen levels. Not true! In fact, research does not show a correlation between circulating estorgen levels and the incidence (or severity) of hot flashes. Surprised? A hot flash is triggered by the hypothalmus in the brain and occurs to release heat that has built up in the body in response to a surge of norepinephrine and/or epinephrine (catecholamines or “stress hormones” – what we typically call “adrenaline”). Other hormones might be affecting estrogen, including Vitamin D. Higher levels of Vitamin D may reduce both estradiol and progesterone in premenopausal women. Vitamin D repletion in postmenopausal women reduced estradiol (note that this study did not use a mega dose: just 2000 IU/day, a common dose taken to keep levels optimal, especially in northern climates that lack sufficient year-round sun exposure to promote Vitamin D synthesis via the skin). I believe Vitamin D supplementation may have a stronger effect as the body gets hit with high one-time doses in a supplement (which is more likely to cause significant fluctuations in hormones – the real culprit in hot flashes) vs. smoother, continuous synthesis of Vitamin D from sun exposure. Please note this post is not at all discouraging appropriate Vitamin D supplementation! It’s just a reminder that each patient has unique needs. You might consider speaking to your doctor about Dutch Testing for cortisol and estrogen balance.
If hot flashes only happen at night and especially in the 2-4am window and impairing sleep, it’s much more likely that they are being driven by a cortisol surge.
It’s also true that magnesium helps the body to regulate and produce hormones. Taking too much Vitamin D at once can drive magnesium too low (it’s needed to convert Vitamin D into its final form in the body). Studies show that magnesium can help reduce hot flashes too. Because insufficient magnesium is so common, I believe that RBC Magnesium should be run on nearly everyone as part of a thorough annual physical check-up.
I hope these tips serves you.
To your divine health!