Every woman knows how uncomfortable premenstrual syndrome or PMS can be, with even the mildest symptoms able to cause a disruption to your everyday habits and routines. Most people accept the bloating, food cravings, irritability and other symptoms as inevitable but there may be something more you can do to stop it from wreaking havoc with your life during that time of the month.
If you’ve never heard of the vitex agnus castus fruit, it could be time to start learning more about what has been called the ‘women’s herb’. With some research studies pointing to a link between the plant and relief of PMS and other issues, this small and unassuming fruit could be the key to getting through those situations with a smile.
The history behind the fruit
Funnily enough, the vitex agnus castus fruit grows from the branches of what is known as the ‘chaste’ tree. According to legend, the tree was so named because of beliefs that it was used by monks during the Middles Ages to decrease sexual desire.
Whether or not you believe that’s true, there’s no denying the fact that the fruit has been used for thousands of years. The first records of its use as a medicinal herb come from the writings of Hippocrates in the 4th century B.C., and it was used for years to ease women’s menstrual problems and physical concerns. It was also believed to have an effect on issues with infertility and was often prescribed to stimulate the production of breast milk.
What is vitex agnus castus, and how does it work?
Today, the fruit also known as the ‘chasteberry’ grows in the Mediterranean and Central Asian regions of the world and is characterised by the small sprigs of purple flowers that bloom amongst its shrub-like branches and leaves.
It is still used widely in Europe as a traditional or folk remedy for menstrual or fertility problems, with some even using it as a treatment for acne. The dried form of the fruit is used to create a liquid or solid extract that can be consumed in a tablet or capsule.
The secret to its effectiveness comes from the variety of active compounds that are found within its natural form. Each is thought to affect different parts of the female reproductive system and aid in supporting a more balanced and normalised function. It’s thought that the chasteberry can work directly on the pituitary gland, promoting the secretion of luteinising hormone (LH) that can in turn encourage the secretion of progesterone.
Progesterone is important in maintaining pregnancy, preparing the body for conception and regulating the regular menstrual cycle in women. Increasing the levels of progesterone in the female body may also help restore the balance between oestrogen and progesterone.
Modern benefits and uses
Vitex agnus castus has been used to help with infertility, issues with breast pain or tenderness and other symptoms of PMS. It may help in alleviating the symptoms of menopause in older women or balancing an irregular menstrual cycle.
The fruit may also aid in increasing breast milk in new mothers, controlling bleeding after childbirth and normalising reproductive hormones after a woman has stopped taking birth control.
A study published in 2001 in the British Medical Journal found that the dry extract form of vitex agnus castus was an effective and generally well tolerated method for relieving PMS symptoms. The study involved 170 women, some of whom took vitex agnus castus tablets and some who took a placebo. While the scientific evidence is still being explored in greater depth, several previous studies of the fruit and its ability to alleviate PMS symptoms have found a link.
The benefits aren’t just limited to women either, as some believe the chasteberry could help to treat acne, joint conditions, swelling, headaches and migraines, body inflammation and even an upset stomach.
If you’re interested in the benefits of the chasteberry for your own health concerns, there are a variety of ways you can add it into your diet – whether through pill, tablet or as a dried herb.
Thompson’s One-A-Day Vitex 1000 may assist in maintaining healthy hormone levels and may aid in the relief of premenstrual and menstrual symptoms including cramping, breast tenderness, fluid retention, bloating and headaches. Buy it now from our secure online shop.
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Have you used a natural product such as Vitex to help with the symptoms of PMS?
If so what did you use, and did it work?