Anecdotal evidence indicates that the vitex tree’s various essential oils (available from both leaf and berry) may be extraordinarily helpful for women dealing with various menstrual and menopausal discomforts. However, this is an immensely powerful oil that needs careful and judicious use. Please read this information carefully and save a copy before purchasing and/or using the oil.
Information from the distiller who used to provide our Vitex Berry Oil, Janina Sorenson, in Denmark:
Vitex agnus castus is known to exert remarkable hormonal activity on especially the female hormonal system. It is believed to balance the two female gonadal hormones by having a progesterone-like activity. A commercial extract of the fruit is available commercially in Germany and has been repeatedly tested in clinical studies. Its action was found to increase the production of luteinising hormone, and hence be beneficial in the treatment of various diseases of the breasts and numerous menstrual abnormalities. I am told that Vitex agnus castus is highly advocated for diseases related to menstrual disorders, and that side effects have not been noted. (However, please read the safety warnings.) Many of the conditions named above are known likely consequences of progesterone deficiency, possibly stemming from the overabundance of estrogen like substances in the modern environment.
Further information on Vitex, both leaf and berry oils, was presented at the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy conference in November, 2000. A paper was presented by Barbara Chopin Lucks detailing her “Vitex Antholog,” anecdotal experiences of 23 women participating in a research project studying the use of Vitex oils in easing the various problems that occur during menopause.
I highly recommend you invest in the proceedings of the convention, in order to read the whole report; it is available from the Pacific Institute. However, here is a brief summary of the experiences of the women who took part in the study, using the Berry Oil.
First, Barbara learned that this is NOT an oil for men to use, or even be around…two men tried bottling it. One became nauseated, one developed a severe migraine. However, the vast majority of women using either the leaf or the berry oil found that their menopausal symptoms were greatly lessened, and planned to continue using the oil after the three month study period ended. Of the women who were still menstruating, almost all reported regulation of cycles and less cramping and PMS. However several women who had stopped bleeding (some for extended periods) found their menses returning. Many users of the Berry oil found a great improvement in hot flashes/night sweats, and found themselves experiencing much less insomnia. One woman reports sharing the berry oil with her 11 year old daughter, and that hormonally induced headaches have been cleared away. Good results were experienced in the areas of vaginal thinning and dryness.
My personal impression, after reading the anthology, and any other information that I could find on Vitex agnus castus, is that of the two oils available, leaf and berry, the leaf oil is gentler. It is distilled not just from the leaves, but from “aerial parts” of the plant, and thus, I would assume, also contains the berries. For example, some women used the leaf oil internally, at doses as high as a full drop a day. This would be far too much of the berry oil. I think the berry oil needs using with a much lighter hand than the leaf oil. If I were to use it, my instinct would be to either inhale it straight from the bottle, or use a fairly weak dilution in a cream or oil base.
WARNING: Do not use when pregnant or using birth control pills (may negate them!). If on hormone replacement therapy, expect to have to recalibrate.
**For other possible oils to avoid, please see our Contraindications page.