My periods have been awful since I went off hormonal b/c about 3 years ago, but my last one took the gold in the F**k This S**t Olympics. PMS symptoms that are like having the stomach flu? I can deal with that; I'm a *champ* at that (thank you IBS). Migraines? Pfft. Been having those since I was a teenager. Exhaustion so bad I sleep for 20 hours a day and then wake up the next to do it all over again? To an insomniac like me that's like a damn vacation.
What I can't deal with is the sudden onslaught of cramps that feel like somebody is twirling my internal organs around a fork like so much spaghetti. One minute I was sitting there painting my nails feeling pretty spiffy, and the next I was in so much pain crawling (literally - crawling) to my bed felt as impossible as crawling to the moon. I've had bad menstrual cramps before, but nothing that descended on me with the speed and intensity that those ones did, because it happened just that fast. I spent the next 4 hours sweating and shivering from the pain, and lying as still as possible so as not to make it worse.
They didn't go away completely (I've never had that kind of luck - obviously), and I spent most of the next three days in bed because I was fine if I wasn't moving, but if I was? No. Just no. And I had pretty much decided to go back on b/c until I read an article about the Nuvaring - the only hormonal b/c that's never given me awful side effects in addition to keeping me barren - in Vanity Fair that changed my mind (and made me count my blessings because I used it for a decade w/o issue).
So with that no longer an option I started researching other methods for regulating my hormones and stumbled upon Vitex. And to make an already long story a little shorter, I started taking it a week ago today. The first thing I noticed - and I noticed it by the second/third day taking the supplement -, was that my skin was clearing pretty dramatically. Not that I knew this at the time because my periods have been erratic the last few years, but normally the week before my period my skin breaks out something awful. This week? Two spots, one of which is because I've had a runny nose and constantly blowing it *always* gives me a zit right at the base of my septum.
But because of my lack of pre-period acne and literally having no other PMS symptoms (no weird food cravings, and ZERO pre-period depression, though I was still easily annoyed, in retrospect) I was shocked as s**t this evening when I was getting ready to take the dog for a walk and felt a little twingy ache that turned into full-blown, pretty-sure-death-would-be-better cramps inside of 5 minutes. I was even more shocked when I could finally hobble from my bed to my desk to check my calender and found that it's 4 weeks to the day since my last period; I've been going anywhere from 4-7 weeks (or longer) between them the last few years.
So it didn't do anything for the cramps, which is why I started taking it in the first place, BUT I've only been taking it a week and it says right on the bottle it can take several months of consistent use to be fully effective. Considering how great I felt all last week, I'm willing to give it that chance. For the time being I'm going to start taking a Red Raspberry Leaf supplement as well since it's supposed to be dynamite for dealing with cramps.
And I'll admit, the lack of acne is a very, VERY nice bonus ;)
**For the record I'm taking Nature's Way Vitex - 400mg, 3x daily, and will continue to do so for the next 8-12 weeks before dropping down to 400mg, 1x daily, as per the instructions on the bottle**
I highly recommend going ORGANIC when consuming any herbs.
The actual Chaste Berries, also called Vitex, are wonderful and are available through companies like Mountain Rose Herbs.
You can buy the berries for about 8 bucks a pound.
Crush the berries and make a beautiful, healing tea.
Alternatively, you can also purchase organic Vitex powder for only about 9 bucks a pound.
You can consume the powder in a smoothie or pack your own empty gelatin capsules for your desired dosage.
I'm sure there are other companies that sell organic Vitex/Chaste Berries and powder,
but this is the best price I've found and I genuinely trust this company.
It's truly wonderful to see women on this site looking to herbs for hormonal balance, instead of dangerous drugs, in order to heal themselves: I'm just concerned that the chemical pesticides in conventionally grown herbs will negate the positive and healing effects of this wonderful herb.
Happy Healing! :-)
Well i wanted to use vitex mainly because of pimples i get when i'm on my period ,.,i get little whiteheads on my cheeks most of the time but don't really get painful pimple just when i'm on my period i get like two or three pimple that get inflamed , i been lately having PMS i get those painful cramps and i just feel fatigue and i don't want to get up from bed so that was another reason i wanted to use vitex,.,.well i was reading reviews in another website about how Vitex makes you break out even more when you start to use it ,that depending on your hormonal levels vitex can make you acne better or worst! And even though i read the warnings i wanted to try it for my painful cramps,.,well i was using it for 12 days and i kept feeling cramps but i wasn't on my period , then i started to breakout on my jawline and the sides of my cheeks ,i got a cyst on the side on one cheek and 2 cyst on the other side of my cheek and also on my jaw ,.,UGH! i got so Mad because i really wanted this to completely get rid of my little whiteheads and when i breakout when i'm on my period , but it just made it worst ,i really don't have bad looking skin just that Vitex really broke me out bad i don't get cystic pimples at all on my cheeks or forehead so i completely stop using it ,.,i then started to drink this vitamin called Zinc Picolinate in the morning because it controls the hormone that is responsible for acne and oily skin and also if you have copper toxity you get PMS and Zinc lowers Copper so you don't get PMS i also drink this vitamin called Magnesium glycinate that's also good for the skin and for PMS ,,.good thing i researched this hopefully it helps ,.,but Overall don't use vitex if you don't know your hormonal levels, because messing with your horomones is not a good thing at all ,., now i have to deal with scarring on the side of my cheeks ugh that sucks -.-
Acne has plagued me for several years now. It was mild in my teens and then turned severe around age 20. After getting my acne under control I was fine for several months but then the deep cysts and pustules began to form again. I was bummed to have to find another way to fight the battle. The derm gave me retin-a and skinoren to use which yes helped significantly but I was still getting those troubling deep bumps.
Long story short---- I have been using Vitex for 3 months. Miracle worker? No but it, along with the occasional use of a topical, has helped me keep my acne under control.I have noticed that during my usual breakout period instead of getting large deep bumps I get a smaller surface one that goes away much faster. I believe this product is helping my body to control hormones in a way that benefits my face. I expect to see increased results as time goes by and I'm happy to have an alternative to taking the pill.
I say try it, you don't have much to lose. And I'm terrible at remembering to take the darn pill so I started putting it on my breakfast plate. Seeing it there after eating helps me not to forget.
I started taking Vitex mainly to help with my hormonal acne. However I have really irregular and heavy periods and bad flu-like PMS symptoms as well. I think I took Vitex for about 4-5 months and saw very little improvement in my acne but my periods got shorter and more regular. They were still heavy but they didn't last for weeks like they used to. I kept taking Vitex anyway since it didn't seem like it was hurting and about 9 months in I noticed I had way less acne and my period was finally once a month, which I've never had before. A little over a year of use and my acne became almost non-exsistant and my period is lighter, and almost always around the same time every month for about a week. I no longer noticed any flu-like feeling before my period but still got bad migraines. It's now been about a year and a half and I no longer break out unless I'm under a lot of stress. My period, which was once weeks at a time and sometimes only had a couple weeks in between, or other times skipped months, can now be predicted to the day, lasts only a couple days, and is very light. I can't believe my period is actually normal! It no longer disrupts my life and drains me of all my energy. I rarely get migraines and they not before my period, which makes me think they're from stress or other causes. So for me it was by no means a quick fix, but if you're willing to be patient it might really help you a lot. I'm so grateful to MUA for telling me about this product!
I tried this for my hormonal breakouts. I'd been taking 1 pill (400 mg) a day for about 3 weeks when I hit my usual breakout time of month, and holy cow, it was almost twice as bad as usual. I've read that people get different results from this product depending on their hormone levels, so apparently it tipped mine in the wrong direction.
9/27/11: I really wanted to like vitex but it was not for me (I think). I took it trying to help my PMS symptoms- depressed, irritable, very emotional, and cystic acne (2-4 cysts that last for weeks and scar). Unfortunately after 2.5 months I became very dizzy on an almost constant basis so I stopped taking it. I was terrified because the dizziness actually lasted for 2 more months after stopping the vitex. I saw several docs and even had an MRI (one thought I might have MS!!) but nothing came up. Of course none of the docs knew anything about vitex or its possible side effects. I cannot say definitively if the vitex was the cause of the dizziness but it was the ONLY thing in my routine that I changed so....because of this I am saying that it did not work for me (and I will not try it again). I really want to do things naturally but it can be so hard when there's not much research or regulation. This was just my experience.
2/8/13: I wanted to add that since writing this review I found out my dizziness is related to migraines. I don't think it was directly caused by the vitex. Hormonal changes are notorious for causing migraines so I think that had something to do with it. If you are not prone to migraines I wouldn't worry too much.
I have been taking Vitex for about a year now and it is quite amazing. It is a herb that has been used for centuries but it has only been recently studied and therefore become more popular. It is thought to work on the pituitary gland in the brain to regulate hormones so if you have any hormone-related complaint, this is something to look into trying. If you are interested in taking it, I recommend reading up on it first. Here is one link:
My experience with Vitex has been really positive. It has restored my faith in natural herbs and supplements! I started out taking 1000mg (one capsule) per day immediately after I made the decision to stop taking my BCP. I no longer wanted to put artificial hormones into my body but I was scared of my cycle without it... I have very heavy periods (menorrhagia) with quite extreme cramps in the first 2 days and they are also long: 6-7 days. I also have hormonal acne and was hopeful that the Vitex would help me with this too. By the 3rd month of 1000mg of Vitex, I noticed breakouts so I bumped up my dose to 2000mg daily (this was a dosage recommended on the side of the bottle). Well - this is when I really saw results, but not with my acne. My TOTM is now a breeze - just like being on BCP! I have shorter, less painful periods. Instead of taking strong medication I can take a couple of tylenol or ibuprofen and be fine. I am generally not a sufferer of PMS (but I have experienced it while taking the BCP Yasmin) - I have none of these symptoms while taking Vitex. I feel good all month, every month. You must give Vitex at least 2 cycles to see results. Start out on the lowest dose according to your pack and then reassess in 3 months.
The only drawback is that it does not help me with my hormonal acne problem. I am a little disappointed but when I first started taking it, I did try not to get my hopes up... in all the literature I have read, it is indicated that there is only a chance that Vitex will help with acne. You are lucky if it does help you!
I would recommend Vitex to all women. It is just such a fantastic tonic no matter what your age. Here is a list of benefits from yourhealth.com.au:
* Irregular menstrual cycles, amenorrhoea
* Heavy periods
* Fibrocystic breast disease, lumpy breasts
* Progesterone deficiency
* Elevated prolactin levels
* Numerous female reproductive complaints, according to diagnosis.
Ahh this amazing stuff! I first heard about it when I was about to get off my birth control and didn't want to break out or miss a period. I came on here and desperately asked for help and got a lot of recommendations for vitex...When u use this after getting off bc, it balances your hormones and prevents them from going crazy. It also helps u menstruate every month. I took this for 6 months after getting of birth control and i got my period at reasonable time every single month... though my skin wasn't as perfect after getting off, it was not horrendous an i would just break out a little right before my period....after 6 months of using vitex, i stopped it and tried drinking spearmint tea as a substitute so my hormones would stay balanced.Basically i read all the benefits of the tea and decided to try it. I drank the tea for this past whole month and now my period is 2.5 weeks late, even though i stopped drinking it a 1.5 weeks ago.......I'm sooooooooo upset and my skin went insane within this time as my period didn't show up..SO, last night i went back to taking vitex (I wish I never stopped it a month an half ago.....) and i immediately noticed this morning that my skin is much better (smoother, less oil, decrease in size of hormonal pimples)....so yeah im retaking it up until my period shows up, and right when it does i get to start taking my birth control..im just going crazy though and trying to induce my monthly flow, but this is an HG product and I would recommend it to anyone suffering with hormonal acne!! There were SOO many times during the months that i used this that my skin was completely CLEAR of hormonal acne and the only reason i wore makeup was for post-acne red spots and my really uneven skin tone, which i am looking for solutions for...but yeah this stuff is amazing!!
oh and btw, i bought my original vitex at my local health food store (dunno the name though, its got a purple cap and i paid about 20 dollars for 90 capsules) but the one i got yesterday is by lorna vanderhaugh and it cost 18 bucks for 90 capsules...the only reason i got a different brand was cause they were out of my original vitex, but it seems to work well too...
2012 UPDATE: Quit using this years ago and dropped the rating down b/c I soon realized makeup was the actual source of my breakouts, and I have since switched topical things around and seen better results! As someone who tried supplements out to improve my skin, I am now a big believer in "less is more" and am totally out of this natural-things fad. I am especially hesitant about issues dealing with messing with hormones, and truly, I like to forget I ever tried thinsg like this and one other supplements to resolve my "hormonal" acne after getting off the pill. At one point 3.5 years ago I used this for a 6 month increment and then once again for a 5 month increment 2.5 years ago.
I don't take Chaste Vitex for my skin, I take it for my general wellbeing and hormone levels. It is fantastic for perimenopausal women when hormone levels begin to fluctuate wildly. It helps balance estrogen and progesterone production, so if your periods are beginning to go haywire consider taking this supplement. It's inexpensive, has no side effects and no contraindictions with any prescription drugs. It definitely helped bring my monthly cycle back into balance.
It's also brilliant for women with ovarian cysts.