Agnus Castus (Vitex agnus castus)
Agnus castus is a member of the verbena family, native to the Mediterranean and Asia. Agnus castus preparations have been available in Germany since the 1950s. Various studies have confirmed the traditional uses of agnus castus in the management of breast Pain and gynaecological disorders.
Agnus castus is traditionally used in the management of menstrual problems (corpus luteum deficiency), pre-menstrual symptoms, dysmenorrhoea (menstrual Pain), menopausal complaints and insufficient lactation.
Part of the plant used: FRUIT.
Herb powder 0.5-1.0g three times daily.
For menstrual problems, agnus castus is recommended for 4 to 6 months.
Agnus castus positively affects the control and production of hormones in the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle. This point is marked by development of the "corpus luteum" (a small progesterone-rich sac) which prepares the egg for fertilisation and the womb for onset of Pregnancy.
Some women may experience symptoms such as irregular and painful periods, breast disease and Pain, Endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, abnormal bleeding in the uterus and emotional imbalance, this is known as "corpus luteum deficiency" (1-3). Agnus castus normalises the levels of progesterone secreted by the corpus luteum - thus helping to restore healthy menstrual function (4,5). Agnus castus also relieves PMS symptoms, including breast tenderness, Cramping, Headaches, and even Acne (6). It has been shown to be more effective than vitamin B6 (7).
Vitex can help regulate prolactin levels, which may help treat Infertility in women (8).
Research indicates that agnus castus favourably acts on the hormones that control milk production and the "letting down" of milk from breast tissue (9).
Hormone-Linked Skin Conditions:
Agnus castus has been effectively used for hormone-related Skin conditions such as Acne and skin problems linked with the menstrual cycle (1-3).
Due to its hormonal link, agnus castus may also be chosen during the Menopause for emotional health, maintaining a "healthy" menopause (10) and natural regularity.
N.B. Although some men have used agnus castus for balancing their hormone levels, there is little clinical evidence to suggest that it is effective.
SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS
Agnus castus is reported to be free from side effects. However, some people have experienced allergic reactions, Headaches and increased menstrual flow following agnus castus therapy. If such symptoms occur, please seek advice from a qualified practitioner.
Pregnant and lactating women should consult with a qualified health professional before taking agnus castus due to a lack of safety data during these times.
Agnus castus is not recommended for children.
INTERACTIONS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS
Agnus castus may interfere with other endocrine medication (HRT, oral contraceptives, sex hormones).
1. Amann W. Pr?menstruelle Wasserretention. G?nstige wirkung von Agnus castus (Agnolyt R ) auf pr?menstruelle wasserretention. Z Allg Med, 55:48-51, 1979.
2. Amann W. Das " pr?menstruelle syndrom" hat viele gesichter. H?ufig bringt schon die gezietle anamnese aufschluss. Arztl Praxis,;31:3091-3092, 1979.
3. Amann W. Amenorrhoe. G?nstige wirkung von Agnus castus (Agnolyt R ) auf amenorrhoea. Z Allg Med, 58:228-231, 1982.
4. Kartnig T, Vitex agnus-castus - M?nchspfeffer oder Keuschlamm. Ein arneipflanze mit indirekt-luteotroper wirkung. Z Phytotherapie, 7:119-122, 1986.
5. Milewicz A et al. Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinaemia. Results of a randomized placebo-controlled double blind study. Arzneim Forsch, 43;II:752-756, 1993.
6. Amann W. Improvement of acne vulgaris with Agnus castus (Agnolyt TM). Ther d Gegenw 1967;106:124-26 [in German].
7. Lauritzen C, Reuter HD, Repges R, et al. Treatment of pre-menstrual tension syndrome with Vitex agnus-castus. Controlled, double-blind study versus Pyridoxine. Phytomed 1997;4(3):183-89.
8. Sliutz G, Speiser P, et al. Agnus castus extracts inhibit prolactin secretion of rat pituitary cells. Horm Metab Res 1993; 25:253-55.
9. Bruckner C. In mitteleuropa genutzte heilpflanzen mit milchsekretionsf?rdernder wirkung (galactogaga). Gleditschia, 17:189-201, 1989.
10. "Herbal Medicines", C A Newall, L A Anderson, J D Phillipson, The Pharmaceutical Press,1996.