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Vitex agnus castus

What is it?

Vitex agnus castus is an herb that has been used to treat menstrual (monthly period) problems including pre-menstrual symptoms, painful periods, regulation of the menstrual cycle, and hormonal regulation. Other uses include the treatment of infertility, menopause symptoms, acne, and breast pain.

Other names for Vitex agnus castus include: Vitex, Chaste tree, Chasteberry, Abraham's Balm, Lagano, and Monk's Pepper.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease

Dosage:

Talk with your caregiver about how much vitex you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking vitex. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take vitex without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Medicines for Parkinson's disease (examples: amantadine (Symadine(R), Symmetrel(R)); bromocriptine (Parlodel(R)); levodopa (Dopar(R), larodopa(R)); pergolide (Permax(R)); pramipexole (Mirapex(R)); ropinirole (Requip(R))) (10-12)
  • Medicines called dopamine-2 antagonists for emotional and mental disorders (examples: amisulpride; haloperidol (Haldol(R)); metoclopramide (Clopra(R), Maxolon(R), Reglan(R)); molindone; pimozide (10-12)
  • Medicines called phenothiazines for emotional and mental disorders (examples: chlorpromazine (Ormazine(R), thorazine(R)); loxapine (Loxitane(R)); mesoridazine (Serentil(R)); perphenazine; prochlorperazine (Compazine(R)); Promazine (Sparine(R)); promethazine (Anergan(R), Phenazine(R), Prorex(R)); thioridazine (Mellaril(R)); thiothixene (Navane(R)); trifluoperazine (Stelazine(R)); triflupromazine (Vesprin(R)) (10-12)

Warnings:

  • Before taking vitex, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding (7,10,13-15).

Side Effects:

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash.

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Acne, itching, skin rash (16)
  • Headaches, nausea, stomach upset (5,10,16)
  • Menstrual problems (16)

References:

1. Love SM & Lindsay K: Dr. Susan Love's Hormone Book: Making Informed Choices About Menopause. Random House, New York, NY; 1997.

2. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A et al (eds): The Complete German Commission E Monographs, 1st ed. American Botanical Council, Austin, TX; 1998.

3. Amann W: Pramenstruelle Wasserretention. Gunstige wirkung von Agnus castus (AgnolytR) auf pramenstruelle wasserretention. Z Allg Med 1979; 55: 48-51.

4. Amann W: Das "praemenstruelle syndrom" hat viele gesichter. Haeufig bringt schon die gezielte anamnese aufschluss. Arztl Praxis 1979; 31: 3091-3092.

5. Kartnig T: Vitex agnus-castus - Moenchspfeffer oder Keuschlamm. Ein arneipflanze mit indirekt-luteotroper wirkung. Z Phytotherapie 1986; 7: 119 122.

6. Bruckner C: In mitteleuropa genutzte heilpflanzen mit milchsekretionsfoerdernder wirkung (galactagoga). Gleditschia 1989; 17: 189-201.

7. Fachinformation: Agnolyt(R), Keuschlammfruechte-Tinktur. MADAUS AG, Koeln, Germany; 1998.

8. Fachinformation: Mastodynon(R), Agnus castus, Caulophyllum thalictroides Dil. D4, Cyclamen Dil. D4, Ignatia Dil. D6, Iris Dil. D2, Lillium tigrinum Dil. D3. BIONORICA Arzneimittel GmbH, Neumarkt, Germany; 1999.

9. Merz PG, Gorkow C, Schroedter A et al: The effects of a special Agnus castus extract (BP1095E1) on prolactin secretion in healthy male subjects. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 1996; 104(6):447-453.

10. Milewicz A, Gejdel E, Sworen H, et al: Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinemia. Results of a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study (Article in German). Arzneimittelforschung 1993; 43(7):752-756.

11. Jarry H, Leonhardt S, Gorkow C et al: In vitro prolactin but not LH and FSH release is inhibited by compounds in extracts of Agnus castus : direct evidence for a dopaminergic principle by the dopamine receptor assay. Exp Clin Endocrinol 1994; 102:448-454.

12. Lauretzen C, Reuter HD, Repges R et al: Treatment of premenstrual tension syndrome with Vitex agnus castus : controlled, double-blind study versus pyridoxine. Phytomedicine 1997; 4:183-189.

13. Winterhoff H, Gorkow C & Behr B: Die Hemmung der Laktation bei Ratten als indirekter Beweis fuer die Senkung von Prolaktin durch Agnus castus. Z Phytother 1991; 12(6):175-179.

14. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R et al: The American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL; 1997.

15. Dugoua JJ, Seely D, Perri D et al: Safety and efficacy of chastetree (Vitex agnus-castus) during pregnancy and lactation. Can J Clin Pharmacol 2008; 15(1):e74-e79.

16. Daniele C, Thompson Coon J, Pittler MH et al: Vitex agnus castus: a systematic review of adverse events. Drug Saf 2005; 28(4):319-332.


Last Updated: 1/27/2017
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