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Vitex Agnus-Castus

Generic Name: Vitex Agnus-Castus

Brand Names: Agnocasto, Femaprin

Drug Class: Herbals

Available Dosage Forms: Extract, capsule, and tincture

Vitex Agnus-Castus: Uses, Side effects. Agnocasto, Femaprin
Courtesy: Unsplash

What is Vitex Agnus Castus?

Vitex Agnus-Castus is a plant known commonly as Chasteberry. It has been used as a remedy for several conditions of the female reproductive system.1

Post-menopausal women undergo an array of psychological and physical changes due to a rapid decline in the availability of the gonadal hormone estrogen. The use of Vitex Agnus-Castus in post-menopausal women regulates the levels of female reproductive hormones. Mental disturbances in response to insufficient estrogen levels can transform into depression and anxiety.

Reduced production of estrogen occurs:

-Post-delivery in pregnant women

-Before the beginning of menstrual bleeding (premenstrual syndrome- PMS)

-During and soon after menopause

Researchers suggest that estrogen promotes serotonergic neurotransmission in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. A lack of estrogen results in diminished serotonin and thus initiates the pathophysiology of depression.  Chasteberry in depressed women modulates the neurotransmission of serotonin and promotes mood elevation. In a study conducted by Tayebi, Emamghoreishi, and Akbarzadeh, administration of the herb significantly decreased depressive episodes in post-menopausal women participants.2

Premenstrual syndrome can sometimes progress to premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a severe psychohormonal condition that requires medical intervention. Phytoestrogens in Vitex Agnus-Castus mimic the function of steroid estrogen and hence aids in recovering the lack of the hormone.

Cerqueira et al. conducted a systematic review of the effects of Vitex Agnus-Castus on premenstrual syndrome and PMDD. The review analyzed eight different studies that examined the effect of Vitex Agnus-Castus versus placebo or active treatment. The results indicated that Vitex Agnus-Castus proved more effective than antidepressant Pyridoxine and placebo in treating physical symptoms of depression.3


How to use Vitex Agnus-Castus?

The fruit extract of Vitex Agnus-Castus can be added in juices or milk and taken before bedtime. The extract is only to be consumed once a day. Consumption should start six days before your period date. Consumption should stop once menstrual bleeding starts.

Vitex Agnus-Castus can also be taken in the form of capsules. The dosage of capsules depends on the advice from your health care professional. Dosages usually include 30-40 mg/day of the herb.


What are the side effects of Vitex Agnus-Castus?

Mild side effects include:


-Skin rash


-Hair loss


-Increased heart rate


-Dry mouth



-Heavy menstrual bleeding


Ovarian hyperstimulation can occur after acute toxicity.


Who should not use Vitex Agnus-Castus?

-Pregnant and breastfeeding women


-Women with hormone-sensitive conditions (endometriosis, uterine fibroids) and cancers affecting the uterus, breast, and ovaries

-People with hypersensitivity to the herb

-People undergoing the in vitro fertilization procedure

-People with Parkinson’s

-People with schizophrenia

-People undergoing treatment for psychosis

Chasteberry does not have any known interactions with other herbs and medications. However, caution should be practiced in individuals taking dopamine receptor antagonists.



  1. Vitex for PMS and PMDD. National University of Natural Medicine. Published January 4, 2021. Accessed August 27, 2021.
  2. Tayebi N , Emamghoreishi M , Akbarzadeh M. Effect of Vitex agnus-castuson Depression of Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Shiraz E-Med J. 2021;22(6):e103381. doi: 10.5812/semj.103381
  3. Cerqueira RO, Frey BN, Leclerc E, Brietzke E. Vitex agnus castus for premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: a systematic review. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2017;20(6):713-719. doi:10.1007/s00737-017-0791-0

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