Vitex: beware!!

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Evil Vitex

Warning: severe side effects

So I was doing somewhat better. Then over the weekend, I crashed. Badly. I started to consider taking my own life. Seriously consider it. The pain and the overwhelm was just too much.

In the middle of all this, I remembered I had felt like this once before. I felt like this when I tried to use the ring and then the patch for birth control. At that time, I went on antidepressants, went to a therapist, and well, wasted a lot of money until I figured out the source. Too many damn female hormones. The dose of hormones in the birth control were making me crazy. Literally.

Too much progesterone in your body will make you depressed. Most women are not as sensitive as I am, but it is a known effect.

Flash forward to yesterday, and I realize there is one herb I have been taking that is intended to mess with my hormones: Vitex. Or, the devil as I will now be calling it. I am an information addict, so as I start to research this herb, I learn it messes with progesterone, and that many other women have had the same reaction as I.

Vitex is often recommended by Chinese herbalists to regulate menstrual cycles. It should not be taken with the pill as it may increase the side effects and decrease its effectiveness. Needless to say it increased the side effects x100 for me. I am no herbalist or doctor, but if you tend to react badly to the pill or hormones in general then please stay away from this one. If you do take it, please be aware that it may affect your moods severely and quickly.

Many women have taken this with no problems, but with my reaction being this extreme, please beware. Vitex can be very dangerous!

Frankly, the lack of information about adverse reactions to this herb concerns me a lot. I know it has helped many women, but there is hardly any information out there about the potential side effects.

Vitex alternative:

Dopamine helps prevent PMS and irregular cycles. Rather than risk the side effects of Vitrex, you can take vitamins to increase your dopamine levels. The Vitrex is essentially a band-aid, not a cure for low levels of dopamine which causes PMS and irregular cycles.  Vitamins are safer, and they are less expensive. Win-win, I say.

Here’s what you should take: Magnesium citrate 600 mg/day, B6 (in a complex of 25-50 per B vitamin) and Zinc (40 mg/day) for 6-12 weeks.

(This information is used in part from here: http://www.henriettesherbal.com/blog/vitex-not-pms.html.

29 responses »

  1. Hi, I came across your blog while I was doing some research on the less than favorable side effects of vitex/chasteberry. I had the same experience on vitex (actually I was on Fertilaid). After taking it 3x a day for about a week and a half, I had a sudden onset of depression and apathy. The only other time I’ve experienced these feelings was several years ago when I was toying around with switching birth control pills.
    I’m curious, how long after stopping the Vitex did you begin to feel normal again? I stopped cold-turkey several nights ago and am feeling a bit better each day. I am still feeling some anxiety and was wondering if you had any lingering symptoms after you stopped and if so, for how long?
    Thanks! Hope you’re feeling better!

    • Hi,

      Thanks for the post, and yes I am feeling better. Once I stopped taking the Vitex the extreme symptoms subsided after abou 48 hours. However, it increased my abdominal pain significantly—it took nearly 2 weeks for that pain to subside. It took about 5 days for the other symptoms to subside: bloating, cramping, mood swings, anxiety, tenderness, etc.

      Hope you are feeling better as well.

    • Me too! I’m having the same issues, so I stopped taking it cold turkey as well. I’m a bit nervous because I have no idea how long it’ll take for the lingering symptoms to go away. I have been experiencing acute anxiety and panic attacks. These side effects just started around my period during the second month of taking the pills. The first month was great! Lots of energy, no cramping, no breast tenderness or bloating. But the second month (Now) before and during my period I started getting panic attacks– while on vacation. Plus, breast tenderness, and cramping this time. Not sure whats going on. If you get any answers let me know.

  2. Hi, I took magnesium and B complex for my PMDD but, also I took vitex for about a month. Two days ago I have a panic attack with a very bad derealisation. (during my menstruation). for vitex and anxiety and I found this post. I stop vitex for 2 days now. But I am a little depressed and a little anxious. I hope I feel better soon.
    Thanks for posting this!!!

  3. I just wanna let u now that vitex really helped me a lot so don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It helped with regulating my cycle and instead of the usual 25-26 day cycles ive been having my entire life, my cycle days were regulated to 28-29 days. A lot of my friends whom I have suggested to use vitex have also came back with extremely good feedback in terms of their period and cycle days. So I don’t really buy all the negative talk about vitex. Besides, it has been used since and during ancient times to promote fertility in women.

    Although I took many other fertility supplements to help me conceive, I am positively sure that vitex was one of them that helped and on 15th January 2011 I finally got a BFP!!! I conceived some time around 29-30 December 2010.

    I would really recommend vitex, royal jelly, red raspberry leaf capsules and cordyceps. Do not be afraid of taking many fertility supplements at any one time because they function differently yet synergistically. I would suggest to take vitex and royal jelly first thing in the morning on empty tummy upon rising and take the red raspberry leaf capsules and cordyceps (together with a pre natal supplement with adequate folic acid) right after lunch.

    This recipe worked for me and I hope it does for u too!!! All the best!

  4. Um, Pomme, did you not read the post?!? She DID try it and had extreme physical and mental side effects. I am glad Vitex helped with your fertility, but please don’t negate other people’s bad experience with it.

  5. That wasn’t negating anything Amy G. Some ppl might have had bad experiences with vitex n other herbs but that itself doesn’t necessarily mean that the percentage is high. Most people do not get adverse reactions using vitex, only some do maybe due to the already high progesterone present in the body. But certainly a few bad experiences cannot scare ppl off vitex or any other herbs for that matter. Maybe u shud learn to read my entire post in the present context before jumping into conclusion that a good experience negates some unfortunate soul’s bad experience!

  6. Pomme, I did read your entire post. You wrote “I just wanna let u now that vitex really helped me a lot so don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.” From this sentence it seems that you didn’t read her post. That’s all I was saying.
    I said nothing about high percentages of success or failure on Vitex. All I was asking is to respect her experience as a negative one and not necessarily jump to prescribing a mix of herbs including one that has made her ill.

  7. I am glad that I found this… I thought I was going crazy!
    I started taking vitex this month to regulate my cycles. My husband and I have been TTC our 3rd child for 7 months now with no success. Along with that, my cycles have gone wacky, anywhere from 29-39 days and it have been really bothering me… so this month I started vitex 3 times a day and soy (CD5-9 only for the soy), and I ACTUALLY ovulated on CD15! I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited, plus I didn’t seem to be having any side effects… fast forward another 4 days and they have hit me like a ton of bricks!
    I started about 2 days after O, my skin broke out like it hasn’t since I was 15yrs old (I am 31), then I started to notice that I was extremely bloated, followed by tiredness, very sore breasts, and weird depression like symptoms… 2 days ago, I could hardly get out of bed and when I did, I ended up crying all afternoon… Finally today, I almost had a panic attack. I took my last Vitex last night and I DON’T plan to take another. I started it shorten my cycle and relief some of my PMS symptoms, and this is worst month I have ever had…
    I know that it does work for some people, but you need to also be careful. The first couple of days, I thought these might be pregnancy symptoms, but now, at 9DPO, I am pretty sure they are not… I will update this if anything changes!

  8. Thank God I found this post. Have been taking Vitex, to help with perimenopause, and have felt worse. I mean like I have been taking crazy pills! I’ve never had depression, or anxiety, this bad. And like the other person above just feeling spaced out. Could not figure what was going on, felt like long-term PMS! Thanks so much for posting, because all I could find were links on how there are really no side-effect. I guess some people are just sensitive to it.

  9. How long were you on the Vitex? Sometimes symptoms can get worse before they get better as the hormones regulate. How much vitex did you take? It is advised to start out with low doses.

  10. been taking vitex for 3 months – great at first period – less breast swelling, cramps and bloating – but since then – WEIGHT GAIN!! NO THANKS! fell very off, had the worst period of my life last month, and i’m 39! i haven’t taken it for 2 days now and hope it just gets out of my system soon – anyone else experience weight gain? just hope it doesn’t screw up my system coming off it….

  11. I just want to throw in my two cents concerning the negative side-effects with Vitex. Blessings to those of you who are experiencing success with the herb. Everyone is unique and has a unique blend of hormone levels. I am now coming to an understanding that if you don’t have a problem with your progesterone levels and you rarely miss a period, you probably shouldn’t take it. I had a period until I took myself off of it (10 days). I felt like I was going crazy.

    I certainly don’t want to knock the good experiences. Some ladies do need help with progesterone levels and, in my humble opinion, natural is best. However, it has been months since I took the herb… trying to conceive a second child. My hormones have never returned to normal and I am now working on finding out what is causing increasing pain in my lower abdominals and irregular bleeding. As with everything, please use more caution than I did before you try this herb. Some are stronger than others. I was working under the assumption that “It’s just an herb, it can’t do any harm.” I am now being diagnosed with possible hyperthyroidism, endometriosis and possible cysts. It is my fault for taking the herb without properly researching it and asking my dr. I don’t know that the herb caused all these problems. All I know is that these issues did not start until I took it. I just want to add to the warnings, because when I researched prior to my first dose, I didn’t find anything concerning negative side effects. Now I’m concerned that I may never be able to conceive again.

    Once again – – blessings to those of you who are finding help with this herb. It just didn’t work with my chemistry. Please look into this carefully before trying this particular herb.

  12. Glad I stumbled upon your post. Have been taking 100 mg of Vitex for 3 months (started out with 50 mg per day). Noticed the higher dosage was definitely contributing to really really bad PMS symptoms (mood swings, irritability, depression and higher appetite) and caused spotting before my period. For those of you seeking immediate relief in getting you back to “normal” you may want to schedule a session with a skilled acupuncturist. I just came back from my visit with may acupuncturist and feel so much better now (and yes, will be stopping vitex for good).

  13. Pingback: Vitex Side Effects « The Unicorn and I

  14. Interessting. I tried Pro meno with Wild yam cream and vitex and comfrey in it. Within hours I feel like I can’t move and so so depressed. I have used the cream for 3 days. I remember trying it back in December and got so depressed. Almost suicidal. No more for me.

  15. I’m 21, and started taking Vitex (in tincture form.. perhaps this makes a difference?) for about a year around 2-3 years ago. The first week that I was on it, I had a couple of panic attacks (I’d never experienced anxiety and anything more than a mild depression before this), but I stuck with it and within a month, noticed nothing but positive changes in my mood and cycle.

    I’ve recently had some issues with hypoglycemia-related panic attacks, but have been treating them with diet and relaxation techniques. I’ve noticed that the anxiety/suicidal thoughts only recur 3-4 days before my period starts, so I’m wondering if this is like a very mild form of PMDD?

    Anyway, I’m reconsidering starting with Vitex again as soon as my period starts and I’m not in this weird, perpetual state of anxiety anymore. I’m expecting panic attacks/anxiety for the first week or so, but its effects on my awful cramps are too good to pass up.

    I wonderful product that I would recommend to anybody with anxiety is Serenagen by Metagenics. I have no idea whether it’s effective when used in conjunction with Vitex, but it’s a wonderful, non-prescription herbal supplement that calmed me on days when I wanted to curl up and die from the constant waves of panic. It’s too bad that there is so little information available on Vitex, since it has has been such a positive herb for me, but I too had no idea that it could cause panic attacks until I was right in the middle of one.

  16. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to see this post. I’ve been spending the better part of my night trying to scan the internet for side effects. I have been taking a similar product like Vitex for two months. I started to cut the pills in half because I felt so hyperfocused and odd. At first everything was great, my period improved the first month. (breast tenderness, pms, depression) all gone! But then a few days ago while on vacation I had horrible acute panic attacks, accompanied with the constant need to urinate, as well as irrational thoughts and anxiety. My period did start during this time, but this time I felt breast tenderness bad cramps which also seemed odd, as these symptoms had been alleviated by the pills the month prior . I’ve stopped taking these pill and felt better the next day, but still have lingering panic attacks. Any idea of how long it takes to reset your system after stopping use of this pill? I’m worried that this anxiousness and panic attacks will never go away. Perhaps the pill masked these symptoms, and discontinuing it’s use during my period has made things worse hormonally? Any ideas?

  17. Hi Ladies, just to let you know I have been trying for a baby for 3 yrs. My friend recomended vitex, I started it in January and got really bad side effects, bloating, farting non stop, severe headaches, and light-headness. Guess what, I reduced the dose and continued. I fell pregnant, I’m 8months pregnant at 42, and its my first baby. I am a Dr. every medicine has side effects and adverse effects/allergies etc. People die from nuts or Penicilin allergies or sometimes they have severe side effects. This does not mean Penicilin is not good and must not be used. One mans food is another man’s poison, use what works for you and leave those who tolerate vitex to do so. My 39 yr old friend is now fibrous free, vitex and raspberry tree shrunk everything. She is 7 weeks pregnant. Vitex works, its a miracle drug, a proven fertility drug. I have stocked up for my next baby.

  18. I want to thank you Unicornandi for getting this message out there. I had seen wonderful reviews about Vitex. I looked up side-effects. I seen minor effects but nothing about depression. Yes, everything said it helps with even that! So I began Vitex 3 months ago. The first cycle was great! Went from a 35-40 day cycles to a 23 day cycle. First cycle was 27 days. I was impressed. Breast were tender, tons of ewcm, anxiety was gone and felt wonderful! No really bad symptoms except insomnia. I didn’t even know I was going to start that day.. Stopped taking Vitex during period. Second cycle was 26 days and this is where everything went wrong. I spotted the whole tww. I had NO sex drive or ewcm. Insomnia all month long. The depression hit me hard. I was having suicidal thoughts to the point of visualizing and planning it. This scared me. Third cycle was 23 days and everything the same as last cycle but worse. Except there was no spotting. This is when I decided that I couldn’t possibly wait for this herb to hopefully balance me out. There ARE people out there that AT LEAST deserve to know the potentially dangerous side-effects of this herb if these symptoms arise. ALERT: IF YOU SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION NORMALLY DURING NORMAL PMS TIME DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRY VITEX. Alot of sites say that it will help with anxiety and depression but here we are telling you that it will not. You will not curb this one. No matter how many months you invest. I will be going back to Blessed Thistle and Damiana. This helped me before.

    God Blesses us all in our journey ttc.

  19. Thank you so much for this post. I really believe it helped save my marriage and possible my life. I have been trying to conceive for about 15 years with one miscarriage possible more. I have PCOS but I have always had regular periods but don’t know if I always ovulate. I started taking Vitex about 2 to 3 months ago and my emotions are so crazy. I have always been sensitive and had a little anxiety but this pill magnified it 1000 times. When you want a baby so badly I guess you are willing to try anything. I am happy that it has worked for so many others but if you do try Vitex monitor your emotions. I was always fighting with everyone especially my husband and of course I thought it was his fault but it was just my hormones and me going crazy. Thanks again for the post I only wish I would have realized the side effects earlier because I just went off Vitex today and I don’t know how much damage it may have caused.

  20. Well, I don’t know if it’s good or bad — I did a really low dose using the tincture. First couple of days, i took about 250 mg and then dropped it down to 225mg and a week later down to 175 mg and remained at that for about 3 weeks, with a one day break just because I didn’t feel like taking it.

    At lower doses, I read that it’s more likely to regulate your cycle it (lengthen it if that’s what’s needed; or shorten it if that’s what you’re looking for). I started it just before my period started and must say that the first day I took it, I noticed having incredible energy, which was great because I’ve been really struggling with energy. Imo, my cycles are too close together, so I was looking to lengthen it. And was thrilled that it also shortened my period.

    And then I noticed I was feeling weepy. Not suicidal or anything, just weepier than normal. Also developed breast tenderness and noticed I wasn’t sleeping as well through the night. Didn’t gain weight but also noticed a little bloating.

    Fast forward 10 days after finishing my period and I decided I needed to stop just to see if my mood would improve. And then I realized I was breaking out. Nothing major but how I break out just before my period starts. But that couldn’t be because my period isn’t supposed to start for another 11 days. And then I wake up on day 14 and my period starts. I have a horrible horrible headache (whether from lack of sleep or the vitex, i don’t know) and the worst period I’ve had in eons. Why? That’s all I can think. It seems odd considering I was at such a low dose.

    I don’t know what to do now…continue taking it or just stay off the vitex… I’ve been under lots of family-related stress the last year…so maybe that’s not helped. But I was so hoping this would work… My normal cycle is every 19 or days (which is a little too short). Until I started my first round of birth control, I had a period every 28 days and it lasted 3 or 4 days, which was awesome. Birth control ruined that for me and I was hoping to return my cycle to what it used to be. But instead, Vitex shortened it even more. : (

    Any advice / opinions?

  21. I think that Vitex is great for people with low progesterone, others should beware. I had very low progesterone, vitex is helping to increase it. It is also causing some mood swings, but progesterone pills cause the same, if not worse. That’s because changes in progesterone do cause mood swings. High progesterone is the cause of mood swings in pregnancy. If you have low progesterone and increase it either via Vitex or progesterone supplements you are likely to have mood swings until you get used to it. But the good thing about vitex is that it is causing your body to produce its own progesterone.

  22. From what I have read, women who are progesterone dominate typically do poorly on Vitex.
    However many of us are estrogen dominant and it usually helps (but not always).

    It really depends on who you are, and what your hormones are doing whether or not Vitex will work for you. It’s not a cure all.

    The only reason it’s recommended so much is more of us in the United States are estrogen dominant due to being overweight, PCOS, diabetes, xenoestrogens, or menopuase (where progesterone typically decreases much faster than estrogen).

    If your hormones are over all too high (such that you cannot take contraceptives) it’s possible the magnesium helps support your liver so it can excrete the excess hormones. Just a thought.

  23. PLEASE READ!!!!!!!
    Her post is bias. I was doing research on Vitex, as many women who find this site are. I had heard only good things about it until reading this post. After reading it I was bummed and was reconsidering taking this herbal supplement. I then saw that the author, UNICORNANDI, never responded when someone asked her specific questions. She was asked:
    (How long were you on the Vitex? Sometimes symptoms can get worse before they get better as the hormones regulate. How much vitex did you take? It is advised to start out with low doses.
    Were you on the pill? Any medication?) I then still didn’t make that much of it because people get busy and can’t answer all the questions on a thread.

    I decided to read the UNICORNANDI’s blog. In doing that I discovered that the author who I will call Uni, has personal things going on in her life that have affected her. In turn her bodies response to this herb are not the norm I should say. I don’t want to fully divulge the details of Uni’s story but her story does affect her review of this product. I wish she would have disclosed some of her info so people won’t read this and assume that she is speaking from an average person’s experiences. As I see that people have assumed she was, who wouldn’t. People have also shared personal experiences but people need to take a full look at their history and be thorough and accurate. Any drug you take will react differently if you have underlying issues.

    All I’m saying in posting this is the review on this product is inaccurate due to lack of all the information. I am NOT negating the fact UNI had a negative reaction from taking it, but that is due to all the other stuff she has going on and she should have disclosed such info. She obviously is open about her life and medical history because she has posted it on her blog. So she should be accurate when writing a review. People will be directed to this review via google and not everyone will do the research to authenticate the validity of its author. Who should have to. People just need to be honest.

    Tags to Uni’s other posts in relation to Vitex:

    http://unicornandi.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/vitex-side-effects/

    http://unicornandi.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/my-horn-blows/#more-72

    I personally still have not tried the product because I am doing my research. But I found this and had to speak up!! I can not speak on the women who have since replied and had similar experiences as UNI. My advice is to make sure you know what’s going on with you before you start so you can clearly see its side effects.

    UNICORNANDI I wish you the best of luck and I hope you find happiness. Everyone deserves it.

    • I think this is about how much information there is out there about this drug. Anything that interacts causing differences, in this case, hormones; is a drug. Regardless of it being made naturally. Even a herb can have adverse side effects.

      There seem to be 2 groups of people; one who have tried it for their PMS and the other who have tried it to conceive. Seems to me that people who have had trouble conceiving get their hormones corrected by this drug. However the ones who have taken it for PMS have come away either feeling better or much worst.

      I took it for PMS, my period is like clockwork but I often get moody/ angry for a week before my period. But after having been on it for just 12 days I have been feeling what I can describe as extreme anxiety. Been a healthy person all my life. My mental health is good as well.

      What needs to be done is a randomised controlled trial. I think what the people trying to say on this site is that Vitex might not be all that good for people who get these adverse side effects. And there is NO documentation of these effects.

      I have been in my bed feeling so anxious trying to figure why I feel this way. It has been ten days since I stopped Premular. I don’t believe the side effects have been covered at all in the information sheet. And that this ‘herb’ has gotten away with the rigidities that a non-herbal drugs would have had to go thru. Because its only answers and information that enable people to form an understanding on what has gone wrong.

      Thank you for this post, this has not been about trying to conceive for me but my PMS and I am happy to know that I have found am answer.

  24. Hi, all please research Vitex before taking it. I so regret my choice. Took it for 3 months. Almost exactly to the date I started I began with insomnia depression and crazy headaches. I have had insomnia for 2 weeks now. headaches are gone or very minimum compared to when I first got them. Afraid I might have permanently damaged my sleeping cycle and my ovaries. I called natures way and asked about side effects and they said absolutely none. I’m so upset at myself and the situation I put myself in. Just praying to God that I get out f this one.

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