Vitex, or agnus castus, is a plant that originates primarily from tropical habitats, with several species growing in the more moderate climate of Eurasia. Commonly referred to as chasteberry, chastetree, or monk’s pepper, the leaves of the vitex plant have been used for centuries for various medicinal purposes, but the primary beneficiary of the plant is the reproductive system of women.
One of the most beneficial effects of taking vitex regularly is the regulation of women’s menstrual cycles. Vitex has been found to help women who have irregular cycles become more regular. It also helps women whose cycles have ceased become active and regular as well. In addition to causing the cycles to become regular, vitex is also effective in reducing other problems with menstruation. Heavy bleeding and bleeding that is too light, causing the duration of menstruation to last longer for some women, can also be regulated with the help of vitex. Women find that the blood flow of their period is consistent, and that their periods last for a shorter period of time after they begin taking vitex.
In addition to regulating a woman’s menstrual cycle, vitex is also effective for numerous other reproductive problems. Endometriosis is a condition in which the cells that normally build up inside of the uterus during ovulation begin to build up outside of the uterus. They can build up on the ovaries, the rectum, and inside of the pelvis lining, in addition to other places in the body. Each month, the built up cells in the uterus are shed during menstruation, but with endometriosis, the excess cells outside of the uterus swell and may bleed, but they aren’t shed. This can cause considerable pain. Vitex is beneficial in decreasing occurrences and the severity of endometriosis.
Vitex is also used for women who have fibroids in their reproductive system, particularly in the uterus. Fibroids are benign tumors that develop on muscle tissue. Estrogen is believed to be a factor in causing fibroids, and they are quite common in women of child bearing age. However, large fibroids or a large number of fibroids can cause many problems, including painful and heavy periods, increased frequency of urination, and pain during intercourse. Fibroids are one of the leading causes of a woman having to get a hysterectomy. Vitex helps to minimize the growth of fibroids in the same way that it helps to prevent occurrences of endometriosis.
In addition to, or perhaps because of, the ability of vitex to regulate menstrual cycles and reduce the occurrences of endometriosis and fibroids, vitex has been found to be effective in treating fertility problems in some women for whom no direct cause of infertility could be established. After taking vitex, some women were able to conceive. This could be due to any number of reasons, including the regularity of ovulation and overall boost to reproductive health as a result of vitex. Ancient treatments with vitex included helping a mother deliver the placenta after the birth of her child, and to reduce the amount of bleeding occurring with childbirth.
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