4 Vitex Benefits: Dosage & Safety

Vitex is a medicinal herb that has been used for thousands of years. In this article, we will look at vitex’s many health benefits, its safety, and recommended dosage. Table …

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Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Vitex is a medicinal herb that has been used for thousands of years.

In this article, we will look at vitex’s many health benefits, its safety, and recommended dosage.

vitex health benefits

What is Vitex?

Vitex is an herb native to the Mediterranean region, Southern Europe, and Central Asia, often seen growing widespread on riverbanks and on shores.

The plant’s Latin name is Vitex agnus-castus, while its common names include vitex, chaste tree, chasteberry, monk’s pepper, and sage tree.

Herbalist David Hoffman mentions that some of the major bioactive constituents found in vitex include:

  • Iridoid glycosides (acubin, agnuside)
  • Iabdane diterpenes (otundifuran, vitexilactone)
  • Flavonoids (casticin, vitexin, isovitexin, kaempferol)
  • Essential oils (1,8-cineole, limonene)

Vitex is commonly used in women’s health, specifically for reproductive conditions such as menstrual cycle irregularities, Premenstrual syndrome, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, breast pain, infertility, and menopause symptoms. 

4 Benefits of Vitex:

Here are the top research-backed health benefits of vitex:

benefits of vitex

1. May Help Manage Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) & Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a variety of physical and emotional symptoms that begin before the start of a woman’s menstrual period.

Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal pain/cramping
  • Breast tenderness
  • Fatigue
  • Migraines/headaches

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is the same as PMS, but a more severe form and is considered a psychiatric disorder.

Researchers believe that vitex may be helpful in the treatment of PMS and PMDD due to its action of decreasing excessive prolactin levels. High levels of the hormone prolactin can cause menstrual issues and infertility. Prolactin is also the hormone responsible for the production of breast milk.

In a study of 1,634 patients with Premenstrual Syndrome, a 3-month treatment with vitex extract was reported to decrease the number of Premenstrual Syndrome symptoms or completely eliminate PMS complaints in 93% of patients.

A systemic review analyzed several studies on the use of vitex for PMS and PMDD. The studies revealed the following results:

  • Vitex showed a 50% improvement in back pain compared to the treatment of Fluozetine (a commonly prescribed medication).
  • Vitex showed to reduce several PMS symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, irritability, crying spells, breast tenderness, back pain, fatigue, and insomnia.
  • The treatment of 40 mg of vitex per day showed to have an improvement in significantly reducing migraines associated with PMS.

A study using both vitex and St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) for the treatment of PMS-like symptoms in women helped to reduce anxiety, irritability, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, depression, crying episodes, and insomnia.

Additionally, The German Commission E, a scientific advisory board that evaluates the safety and efficacy of herbs, approves the use of vitex for Premenstrual Syndrome complaints, cyclical breast discomfort, and menstrual cycle irregularities.


Clinical studies indicate that vitex may be used to effectively alleviate symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

2. May Alleviate Menopausal Symptoms

Menopause is considered a natural transition that women go through as they age. During this transition, many women may experience menopausal symptoms, which include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low sex drive
  • Sleep disturbance

Vitex, among other herbs for women’s health such as fenugreek, raspberry leaf, and red clover, has successfully reduced menopause symptoms such as anxiety and hot flashes in a study involving menopausal women.

A clinical trial studied the effectiveness of vitex essential oil topically on peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women. It was reported that 33% had significant improvements in menopausal symptoms and 36% had mild improvements. Most improvements were noted for emotional well-being, as well as reduced hot flashes and night sweats.

Another study confirms the use of vitex as a treatment for reducing the number, and severity, of hot flashes in postmenopausal women.

A study of pre-and post-menopausal women examined the use of an herbal formula that included vitex, black cohosh, dong quai, milk thistle, red clover, and American ginseng on relieving menopause symptoms. The women receiving the herbal formula had significant reductions in menopausal symptoms. By three months of treatment, there was a 73% decrease in hot flashes and a 69% reduction in night sweats. In addition, the women reported having improved sleep quality.


Clinical trials have found that vitex may improve menopause symptoms, especially for decreasing hot flashes and improving sleep quality.

3. May Help to Balance Hormones & Improve Fertility

Hormonal imbalance occurs when there is too much and/or too little of certain hormones. This can cause a variety of health issues, such as menstrual irregularities, fertility troubles, PMS, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and more, according to herbalist, Dr. Aviva Romm.

Vitex affects the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA axis), which helps regulate hormone production.

Research suggests that vitex increases the release of luteinizing hormone (LH), helping to increase progesterone and regulate the function of the ovaries. It is also known that vitex helps lower prolactin levels.

In addition, some research indicates that vitex can affect neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Note that low levels of progesterone and high levels of prolactin are typically linked to PMS, menstrual irregularities, fertility issues, and conditions such as PCOS.

Vitex may be helpful in improving fertility in women who experience a shorter luteal phase (the second half of the menstrual cycle). Those who experience a shortened luteal phase may also have high levels of the hormone prolactin and low levels of progesterone. This type of hormonal imbalance is associated with infertility. Research has shown that vitex can help balance hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and prolactin, thus improving fertility.

A study examined the impact of vitex on fertility in 93 women who had tried to conceive for six to 36 months. After three months of treatment, 26% of women became pregnant. After six months, 32% of women became pregnant. These findings may suggest that herbal supplements containing vitex may be helpful in balancing hormones and improving fertility.

Herbalist and women’s health expert, Dr. Aviva Romm states that vitex may be helpful for treating hormonal dysregulation (i.e. insufficient progesterone), endometriosis, PCOS, and amenorrhea (the absence of menstrual periods), particularly after years of taking oral contraceptive pills and improving LH levels.


Research suggests that vitex may promote hormone balance and improve fertility, however, additional clinical trials would be useful in further confirming this finding.

4. May Help Reduce Breast Pain

Cyclical breast pain is breast pain due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. 

A 3-month study has shown that vitex is helpful in the treatment of cyclical breast tenderness and pain, quickly diminishing the severity of pain compared to the placebo.

In a systemic review of 25 studies, vitex has been shown to be effective in relieving the intensity of breast tenderness and pain and lowering elevated prolactin levels in women with and without Premenstrual syndrome.

Dr. Aviva Romm notes that as a hormonal balancer, vitex can be used to treat cyclic breast pain and fibrocystic breasts.


Vitex may work to lower breast tenderness and pain associated with hormonal changes. Additional clinical research is required to further confirm this finding.
vitex side effects and safety

Vitex Safety:

Safety Class: 1

Interaction Class: A

The Botanical Safety Handbook states that vitex is considered a generally safe and well-tolerated herb.

The safety class 1 indicates that vitex can be safely consumed when used appropriately, according to the Botanical Safety Handbook.

The Botanical Safety Handbook also mentions that an interaction class of “A” suggests that no clinical interactions are expected when using this herb appropriately.

The Botanical Safety Handbook and herbalist Dr. Aviva Romm does not recommend using vitex while taking hormonal contraceptives, hormonal replacement therapy, or progesterone drugs.

The German Commission E states there are no known drug interactions with this herb.

Pregnancy & Lactation:

Women’s health expert Dr. Aviva Romm suggests that it is not recommended to use vitex during pregnancy.

According to The Botanical Safety Handbook, vitex may be considered a galactagogue herb, meaning it helps promote lactation, although it is also noted that it may perform the opposite and decrease breast milk production. Most research indicates the possibility of both actions, which may depend on the individual person and/or dose. Due to the possibility of lactation suppression, it is suggested to avoid vitex during lactation.

The Botanical Safety Handbook states that “the low toxicity profile and tolerability of chaste tree makes it unlikely to be toxic for the newborn, especially after filtration and dilution through the mother”.


The following are the recommended dosages for adults:

By Herbalist David Hoffman:

  • Tincture (1:5 in 60%): 2.5 mL 3x per day
  • Infusion (tea): Add 1 cup of hot water to 1 tsp. of vitex berries. Infuse and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 1 cup 3x per day

By the German Commission E:

  • An aqueous-alcoholic extract (50-70%): 30 to 40 mg of vitex per day

Additional Notes:

  • To improve ovulation/fertility: 1 to 4 mL of tincture or 500-1,000mg of dried berries; best taken as a single dose in the morning according to women’s health expert and herbalist, Dr. Aviva Romm.
  • For Premenstrual Syndrome or heavy periods: Vitex can be used continuously for 4 to 6 months.
  • For infertility with amenorrhea: Vitex can be used continuously for 12 to 18 months (unless pregnancy occurs).


Vitex is not on the United Plant Saver’s “species-at-risk” list of plants that are sensitive to the impact of human activities.

Naming & Taxonomy:

Vitex’s scientific name is Vitex agnus-castus. It belongs to the Lamiaceae (mint) family of plants.

The plant got its name “chaste tree” from the belief that it may help treat infertility and suppress libido.

It is a perennial shrub, growing three to 20 feet tall with violet-blue-purple flowers and berries. The berries are the part of the plant used medicinally.

There are 250 different Vitex species, including:

  • Vitex negundo
  • Vitex trifolia
  • Vitex rotundifolia

History & Traditional Use:

Vitex was first used more than 2,000 years ago in Greece, Italy, and Egypt.

Historically, vitex has been used in the treatment of reproductive disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, inflammatory conditions, and psychiatric illnesses.

According to the Botanical Safety Handbook, vitex was traditionally used to prevent miscarriages from occurring in women with a history of miscarriages, this may be due to vitex’s ability to help increase progesterone levels.

According to herbalist and women’s health expert Dr. Aviva Romm, vitex has been used by Eclectic physicians as an emmenagogue, an herb that stimulates blood flow to the pelvic region and uterus and may stimulate menstruation.

In traditional Persian medicine, vitex has been used to decrease breast milk oversupply. However, in traditional Iranian medicine, vitex has been used to increase breast milk.

vitex for women's health


Vitex has strong evidence to support its health benefits, particularly for benefiting women’s health and reproductive conditions.

As always, it is recommended to consult with a qualified health practitioner before adding any new herbal vitex supplements to your regimen, especially if you are taking a medication, have an existing medical condition, or are pregnant or nursing.

Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; 2006-. Chasteberry. [Updated 2022 Jan 18]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501807/ 

Gardner, Z. & McGuffin, M. (2013). Botanical safety handbook (2nd ed.). American Herbal Products Association.

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press: Rochester, VT.

Kamal, N., Mio Asni, N. S., Rozlan, I. N. A., Mohd Azmi, M. A. H., Mazlan, N. W., Mediani, A., Baharum, S. N., Latip, J., Assaw, S., & Edrada-Ebel, R. A. (2022). Traditional medicinal uses, phytochemistry, biological properties, and health applications of Vitex sp. Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 11(15), 1944. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9370779/#:~:text=Despite%20the%20different%20names%2C%20Vitex,10%2C11%2C12%5D. 

Rafieian-Kopaei, M. & Movahedi, M. (2017). Systemic review of premenstrual, postmenstrual, and infertility disorders of Vitex agnus castus. Electronic Physician, 9(1), 3685-3689. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5308513/#b27-epj-09-3685

Rani, A. & Sharma, A. (2013). The genus Vitex: A review. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 7(14), 188-198. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3841997/ 

Romm, A. (2018). Botanical medicine for women’s health (2nd ed.). Elsevier, Inc: St. Louis, MO. 

Webster, D. E., He, Y., Chen, S. N., Pauli, G. F., Farnsworth, N. R.  & Wang, Z. J. (2011). Opioidergic mechanisms underlying the actions of Vitex agnus-castus L. Biochemical pharmacology, 81(1), 170–177. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2993511/

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About Tara Bassi, MS, CNS, LDN

Tara is a Licensed Nutritionist and Clinical Herbalist, specializing in women’s health. She has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Herbal Medicine from Maryland University of Integrative Health and is a Board Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS®).