I have had a lot of traffic on my blog from my original vitex post. If you want to see my original post, it is here.
If you read that post, you know that I experienced very severe side effects while taking vitex. I seem to get a lot of hits because other people have experienced this as well, and there isn’t a lot of information out there. I know it has helped some women, but a potential side effect from the herb is severe depression. And I mean scary severe. What concerns me is that this is not listed as a possible side effect. Any website selling this stuff claim vitex is completely safe.
This is from about.com: “Vitex may affect levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. People with Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, or any other condition in which dopamine levels are affected should avoid vitex unless under the supervision of a qualified health professional. Vitex may decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives or female hormone replacement. It could also theoretically increase the risk of side effects.”
I have zero medical training, but I was always very sensitive to the pill. If you are sensitive to the pill, please use vitex with caution. I was taking vitex with the pill, and it DID increase side effects severely.
Dopamine and vitex
Two years later, I think I have the key to why vitex affected me so much. It all goes back to dopamine levels. Dopamine is the hormone responsible for focus, altertness and concentration. If you have low dopamine levels, you will have a hard time focusing. You will have difficulty finishing projects. You will become bored easily. Does this sound like anything else? If ADD popped into your head, you would be correct.
Dopamine, ADD and vitex
Most studies have shown that people with ADD have low dopamine levels. (Low dopamine levels have also been linked to addiction and other disorders, but ADD is the most common.) I have ADD and was only recently diagnosed. I will do an entire post on that one, but I unknowingly had low dopamine levels. When I started taking the vitex it must have made my already low dopamine levels go even lower. Females with ADD have different symptoms than men, and are less commonly diagnosed. If you have been diagnosed with ADD or suspect you may have it, you may experience severe side effects with vitex.
If you think you may have it, below are some resources for people with ADD. Medication has made my life much more successful, productive and happy. I was undiagnosed for so long because I have the inattentive piece and not the stereotypical hyperactive piece. This may be you, it may not be. But please check out these articles and resources for women with ADD:
Women with ADD from about.com
The “primarily inattentive” description in the article is me.
Women with ADD symtom list from ADDitude Magazine.
I have to answer yes to nearly all of those questions.
Why can’t I concentrate? from CNN
ADD Women: Why Girls and Moms Go Undiagnosed from ADDitude Magazine