What Is Vitex Berry?

Published on March 24, 2023

By Lisa Stockwell

Lisa Stockwell

Lisa Stockwell has worked as a copywriter, writer, author, and editor for 35 years, specializing in the field of healthcare since 2009. She recognized the need for reliable health information while supporting friends through unique health challenges and refocused her career to bring clarity and compassion to healthcare communications. Lisa is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and a lifelong Northern Californian.

Vitex may sound like the name of a healthcare technology company, but it’s actually one of the most popular herbs for supporting healthy female hormone balance through all life stages.*

Vitex agnus-castus is the Latin name for Chaste Tree, and the tiny berries (chasteberries) that grow on the tree have been used since ancient times for various women’s health issues.

Vitex Berry (also called Chaste Tree Berry) has been used in Greece, its native habitat, for over 2,000 years and is now widely used in Europe and Western Asia. It is not yet as well-known in the United States. That should change as research confirms its effectiveness and women discover this beneficial plant-based supplement.

How the Chaste Tree Got Its Name

The chaste tree, with its long spires of pale lilac or rose-colored flowers and small lavender-gray berries, is native to Greece and other Mediterranean countries. 

Since the Middle Ages, the botanical name for the chaste tree has been Vitex agnus-castus, which in Latin means “chaste lamb.” 

According to historical records, the name derived from the belief that a tincture of the berries would curb sexual desire in men. While Vitex Berry does not blunt men’s libido, some folklore suggests that the chastity claim may have come from women who wanted to protect themselves from men’s unwelcome advances, who placed sprigs of the foul-smelling branches and leaves on their beds to turn those men away.REF#977 

Vitex Berry and Women’s Health

The earliest records of Vitex Berry date back to 400 B.C. when Hippocrates noted it as a remedy for injuries, inflammation, and enlargement of the spleen. In the 2,400 years since, different claims have been made regarding its powers, from healing wounds and treating snake bites to calming hysteria and curing insanity. 

The most studied benefits of Vitex Berry relate to women’s health and include*:

  • Relieving PMS symptoms
  • Reducing symptoms of menopause
  • Treating female fertility disorders
  • Stimulating lactation 

More research is required to confirm the effectiveness of herbal supplementation with Vitex Berry, but results indicate it may be a safe non-hormonal option with few side effects. Minor reactions have included gastrointestinal discomfort, dizziness, headache, and menstrual changes. 

Many European and Mediterranean countries now use Vitex agnus-castus in medicinal products. Vitex Berry is approved for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome by the German Commission E. No studies have proved efficacy for improving milk supply in breastfeeding women. 

Let’s look at what clinical studies suggest are the most promising uses for Vitex Berry.

Vitex Berry and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Placebo-controlled studies and open studies without control have been done to test the effectiveness of Vitex Berry in treating various physical and psychological PMS symptoms, including:*

  • Irritability
  • Mood alteration
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating 
  • Fluid retention
  • Fatigue

In one study of 1,634 patients suffering PMS symptoms, including depression, anxiety, craving, and hyperhydration, 93% of patients reported a decrease in the number of symptoms or no symptoms after three months of taking Vitex berry extract.REF#978 No adverse effects were reported.

Many women with PMS have high levels of prolactin, a condition called hyperprolactinemia, that can cause breast pain (mastalgia), breast enlargement (gynecomastia), low estrogen levels, menstrual irregularities, fertility issues, low sex drive, and headaches. Prolactin is a hormone that is associated with pregnancy and enables women to produce breast milk. Excess secretion can also be caused by physical or psychological stress.REF#979 Multiple studies have shown that Vitex Berry is effective in reducing prolactin levels and the resulting breast pain.REF#980 REF#981

Further research is needed, however, to verify that Vitex Berry extract helps control the hyper-secretion of prolactin and supports the reduction of PMS symptoms in addition to mastalgia (breast pain).* 

Vitex Berry and Menopause

There is limited data on the effectiveness of using Vitex Berry for menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, insomnia, and mental and psychological changes. 

One 2019 randomized controlled double-blind clinical trial study in Iran, where Vitex Berry has a long history of use in traditional medicine, showed a significantly lower incidence of anxiety and vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes) and total dysfunctions in the group that used Vitex Berry compared with the placebo groups.REF#982 Their findings supported those of earlier studies. 

While there is good evidence that Vitex Berry plays a role in relieving menopausal symptoms, more research is required to understand how and why. 

Vitex Berry and Infertility 

One cause of fertility problems is luteal phase defect, where the second half of the menstrual cycle is shortenedREF#983. The condition is associated with high prolactin levels. By lowering prolactin and balancing a woman’s hormone levels, Vitex Berry may make it easier to get pregnant.*

In one study that combined Vitex agnus-castus with other herbal extracts, fertility outcomes were improved for women with menstrual irregularities due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).REF#984 Another three-month study using Phyto Hypophyson, a homeopathic preparation containing Vitex agnus-castus, in women with oligomenorrhea (infrequent periods) showed earlier ovulation, shortening of the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy.REF#985 

In a randomized controlled trial in 2006, the use of a nutritional supplement called Fertility Blend for Women, which combined Vitex Berry with green tea, L-arginine, vitamins (including folate) and minerals, showed a significant increase in normalizing menstrual cycles in women who had tried unsuccessfully to conceive for 6 to 36 months. Twenty-six percent of the 93 women in the study became pregnant after three months, and three more women became pregnant after six months on the supplement.REF#986

Because many of the studies on the effect of Vitex Berry on infertility have been done in combination with other herbs or drugs, and because the sample sizes of studies have been small, it is too soon to conclude that this is an effective option to support fertility. We need additional research.

As with many supplements where we don’t have conclusive research to establish efficacy, if you’re looking for support for female health issues, anecdotal evidence may give you hope. You may want to try a supplement for at least two months to determine if Vitex Berry may be a good option for you.

Gaia Herbs believes Vitex Berry to be a good choice to help balance female hormones and offers several products for you to consider:*

In all studies, there have been no significant adverse effects from taking Vitex Berry, but there are no studies to establish how much you should take or how long you should take it. Therefore,before starting a new supplement, consult your healthcare provider. This is especially important if you take medications that could interact with Vitex Berry.


  • 1. Christopher Hobbs, PhD, "Vitex: The Chaste Tree", Pharmacy in History.
  • 2. EG Loch et al, "Treatment of premenstrual syndrome with a phytopharmaceutical formulation containing Vitex agnus castus", PubMed, April 2000.
  • 3. Curt W. Burger, "Stress-Induced Hyperprolactinemia: Pathophysiology and Clinical Approach", Obstetrics and Gynecological International, May 9, 2018.
  • 4. A.R. Carmichae, "Can Vitex Agnus Castus be Used for the Treatment of Mastalgia? What is the Current Evidence?", Hindawi, Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, September 2008.
  • 5. W Wuttke et al, "Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)--pharmacology and clinical indications", PubMed, May 2003.
  • 6. Rozita Naseri et al, "Comparison of Vitex agnus-castus Extracts with Placebo in Reducing Menopausal Symptoms: A Randomized Double-Blind Study", Korean Journal of Family Medicine, November 2019.
  • 7. Nancy Wilson Darland RNC, MSN, "Infertility Associated with Luteal Phase Defect", Journal of Obstetric, Gynocologic, and Neonatal Nursing, May 1985.
  • 8. Susan Arentz, et al, "Herbal medicine for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and associated oligo/amenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism; a review of the laboratory evidence for effects with corroborative clinical findings", MBC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, December 18, 2014.
  • 9. J Bergmann et al, "The efficacy of the complex medication Phyto-Hypophyson L in female, hormone-related sterility. A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical double-blind study", Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd, August 7, 2000.
  • 10. L M Westphal et al, "Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Fertilityblend: a nutritional supplement for improving fertility in women", 2006.