Drug Information

VITEX AGNUS-CASTUS

Overview Information

Vitex agnus-castus tree is a shrub that is native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. The shrub has long, finger-shaped leaves, blue-violet flowers, and dark purple berries. The fruit and seed are used to make medicine.

Vitex agnus-castus is commonly taken by mouth for conditions related to the menstrual cycle such as premenstrual syndrome and a more severe form called premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It is also used for "lumpy" breasts and and many other conditions.

How does it work?

Vitex agnus-castus seems to affect many hormones that are involved in women's reproductive cycle.

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Some research shows that vitex agnus-castus might work about as well as the prescription drug fluoxetine (Prozac) for relieving symptoms of this condition. Vitex agnus-castus seems to be better for physical symptoms like breast tenderness, swelling, and cramps. Fluoxetine seems to be better for depressed mood, feeling nervous and feeling out of control.
  • Premenstrual syndrome. Some research shows that taking vitex agnus-castus decreases some symptoms, especially breast pain or tenderness, depressed mood or moodiness, anger, and headache. But it does not seem to help for bloating.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Bone fractures. Taking vitex agnus-castus extract does not seem to improve the healing of broken bones.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Bleeding caused by an intrauterine device. Early research shows that taking vitex agnus-castus three times daily might reduce bleeding caused by an intrauterine device.
  • Infertility. The effects of vitex agnus-castus on fertility is not clear. Some early research shows that it does not improve the chance of becoming pregnant in women with infrequent menstrual bleeding, but it might help those who do not produce enough progesterone.
  • Repelling insects. Early research shows that vitex agnus-castus seed extract repels ticks and fleas for 6 hours, mosquitoes for 3 to 8 hours, and biting flies for 3 hours, when applied to the skin.
  • Breast pain. Early research shows that vitex agnus-castus) might relieve breast pain.
  • Acne.
  • Dementia.
  • Enlarged prostate.
  • Eye pain.
  • Increasing lactation.
  • Insomnia.
  • Menopausal symptoms.
  • Nervousness.
  • Prevention of miscarriage.
  • Swelling.
  • Other conditions.
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More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of vitex agnus-castus for these uses.

Side Effects & Safety

Vitex agnus-castus fruit extract is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth appropriately. Uncommon side effects include upset stomach, nausea, itching, rash, headaches, acne, trouble sleeping, and weight gain. Some women notice a change in menstrual flow when they start taking vitex agnus-castus. Vitex-agnus-castus seed extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin appropriately.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Using vitex agnus-castus during pregnancy or breast-feeding is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. The concern is that vitex agnus-castus can interfere with hormones. Don't use vitex agnus-castus if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Hormone-sensitive conditions such as endometriosis; uterine fibroids; or cancer of the breast, uterus, or ovaries: Vitex agnus-castus can affect hormones and might affect estrogen levels. Don't use vitex agnus-castus if you have a hormone-sensitive condition.

In vitro fertilization: Vitex agnus-castus can interfere with the effectiveness of in vitro fertilization. Don't use vitex agnus-castus if you are undergoing this procedure.

Parkinson's disease. Vitex agnus-castus contains chemicals that affect the brain. These chemicals affect the brain similarly to some medications used for Parkinson's disease. Therefore, vitex agnus-castus might affect therapy for Parkinson's disease.

Schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. Vitex agnus-castus seems to affect a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Some medications for mental disorders help to decrease dopamine. Therefore, taking vitex agnus-castus might affect therapy for certain mental disorders.

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Interactions?

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

  • Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with VITEX AGNUS-CASTUS

    Vitex agnus-castus seems to change hormone levels in the body. Birth control pills contain hormones. Taking vitex agnus-castus along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you take birth control pills along with vitex agnus-castus, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom. Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.

  • Estrogens interacts with VITEX AGNUS-CASTUS

    Vitex agnus-castus seems to change hormone levels in the body. Taking vitex agnus-castus along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills. Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.

  • Medications for mental conditions (Antipsychotic drugs) interacts with VITEX AGNUS-CASTUS

    Vitex agnus-castus seems to affect a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Some medications for mental disorders help to decrease dopamine. Taking vitex agnus-castus along with medications for mental conditions might decrease the effectiveness of some medications for mental conditions. Some medications for mental conditions include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), clozapine (Clozaril), fluphenazine (Prolixin), haloperidol (Haldol), olanzapine (Zyprexa), perphenazine (Trilafon), prochlorperazine (Compazine), quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), thioridazine (Mellaril), thiothixene (Navane), and others.

  • Medications used for Parkinson's disease (Dopamine agonists) interacts with VITEX AGNUS-CASTUS

    Vitex agnus-castus contains chemicals that affect the brain. These chemicals affect the brain similarly to some medications used for Parkinson's disease. Taking vitex agnus-castus with these medications might increase the effects and side effects of some medications used for Parkinson's disease. Some medications used for Parkinson's disease include bromocriptine (Parlodel), levodopa (Dopar, component of Sinemet), pramipexole (Mirapex), ropinirole (Requip), and others.

  • Metoclopramide (Reglan) interacts with VITEX AGNUS-CASTUS

    Vitex agnus-castus seems to affect a certain brain chemical. This chemical is called dopamine. Metoclopramide (Reglan) also affects dopamine. Taking vitex agnus-castus along with metoclopramide might decrease the effectiveness of metoclopramide (Reglan).

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): 20-40 mg of vitex agnus-castus extract taken daily for 8 weeks has been used.
  • For premenstrual syndrome (PMS): A specific extract known as BNO 1095 (Agnucaston/Cyclodynon, Bionorica AG), which contains 4 mg of vitex agnus-castus extract has been taken daily for three menstrual cycles. Another specific extract known as Ze 440 (Prefemin, Max Zeller Sohne AG, Romanshorn, Switzerland) which contains 20 mg of vitex agnus-castus extract has been taken daily for three menstrual cycles. Another specific product (Femicur, Schaper & Brummer GmbH & Co. KG, Salzgitter, Germany) containing 6.4-12 mg of vitex agnus-castus extract has been taken daily in two divided doses for three menstrual cycles. Specific capsules (Agnolyt, Madaus AG, Cologne, Germany) containing 3.5-4.2 mg of vitex agnus-castus extract has been taken daily on days 16-35 over three menstrual cycles. Vitex agnus-castus extract, 40 drops added to one glass of fruit juice once daily before breakfast starting 6 days prior to menstrual bleeding and lasting until menstrual bleeding occurs, has been used for six cycles.

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