Friday, April 22, 2005

Vitex to the rescue

I was reading someone's post about B6 for PMS and decided to look up food sources of B6 and came up with this abbreviated list: "Vitamin B6 is found in beans, nuts, legumes, eggs, meats, fish, brewer's yeast, bananas, green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, wheat bran, milk, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals."

I eat a good amount of B6 rich foods but I was still having similar problems -- lame LP, PMS, etc. I had my CD# bloodwork done again last week and my estradiol was high -- darn estrogen dominance anyway -- though it is totally part of the pattern that leads to fibroids. So I started looking up stuff about estrogen, and prolactin since having sore breasts for the past 3 weeks hasn't been any fun.

And then I did a search again and came across, of all things -- vitex and this:

Chaste berry (also spelled chasteberry) contains several different constituents, including flavonoids, iridoid glycosides, and terpenoids. Chaste berry (the fruit of a small Eurasian tree, also called Vitex agnus) does not contain hormones. The benefits of chaste berry stem from its actions upon the pituitary gland. Chaste berry keeps prolactin secretion in check. The ability to decrease mildly elevated prolactin levels may benefit some women with breast tenderness associated with PMS. Chaste berry may also be helpful in menopause and cyclic mastalgia. New research indicates that certain compounds in chasteberry may have activity similar to the brain chemical dopamine.

So I conferred with my acupuncturist and he said I could try it if I wanted to. I started yesterday morning and I was in a better mood than I had been in weeks and by evening my breast pain had dissipated. It had to be the vitex as drinking water, taking vitamins, exercise, low stress all had no affect. And it wasn't optimism either as there was the great news about my partner's sperm morphology (increase from 2% to 5% with supplements) and that didn't affect my mood for the better -- I still felt like growling at everyone in sight.

I looked up more about vitex and liver qi stagnation since that is my chronic diagnosis. I found a few things that mentioned it:

"Vitex (V. Agnus-castus) -- acrid, spicy, warm; goes to the Liver and Spleen. It contains essential oil, fatty oil, flavonoid casticin, iridoglyside and aucubin. It is used for menstrual irregularities and irregular symptoms associated with menopause. It stimulates progesterone production and regulates the menses. It effectively treats ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast lumps. Dose: 3-9 gms"

"TCM Usage:regulates the Blood, nourishes the Kidney, moves Qi in the lower Jiao.
Contra Indications: Vitex is a bit hot, so use with this in mind (not for use in ovarian cysts?)."

In The Infertility Cure, Randine Lewis says that vitex is a kidney yang tonic, but since what happens in the kidneys affects the liver in chinese medicine it might make sense that it would help me out. Also my feet get really cold at night which is supposedly a sign of a kidney yang deficiency.

I'm just amazed! I know it doesn't work for everyone, evidently it isn't good to take if you have cysts, and even I haven't been psyched about how it worked when I took it previously but talk about a perfect fit for me right now.

Other than that, my acupuncturist told me that he still thinks I'm a bit blood deficient and that's why I'm craving chocolate, that and overthinking. Oh well.

Updated to add: it delayed my ovulation by as many days as I took it though I did end up getting pregnant again this same cycle. The delayed ovulation might have contributed to my subsequent miscarriage though that is entirely conjecture on the part of the NP at my RE's office.

Updated to add 4/6/06 -- it did help me with PMS and mastalgia during my LP

1 comment:

sudu said...

I started taking Vitex this few weeks and it too has delayed my ovulation a lot (I had previously v regular ovulation and periods-28 days). I am really not sure what to do-should I disconttinue its use or keep taking it? Knowing that u did get pregnant makes me think I should stick to it. Would like to hear in detail what you did-dosage,delayed ov by how many days, etc? BTW I took it for heavy flow, cramps during periods and am trying to get pregnant now. Thanks in advance.