6 Benefits Of Chasteberry For PMS
For some women, the days leading up to menstruation can be unpleasant due to PMS, or premenstrual syndrome. In this article, we will talk about the menstrual cycle, PMS, and the benefits of chasteberry during PMS.
Menstruation occurs when the body sheds the lining of the uterus. As simple as that may sound, it is a complicated process. During each period, the body releases certain hormones which coincide with the normal progression of the menstrual cycle. The length of a cycle is typically 28 days, which is counted from the first day of a period to the first day of the next one.
As mentioned above, a menstrual cycle is the regular occurrence of periods every month, known as menstruation (1). It mostly ranges between 23-35 days on average. The period typically lasts for 3-7 days in a healthy woman.
The menstrual cycle begins with the thickening of the uterus following an increase in estrogen. Next, an increase in progesterone signals the body to maintain this thickened lining to provide a nourishing environment for a fertilized egg to implant (theoretically). If there is no implantation of a fertilized egg, the end of the cycle consists of a sharp drop in both estrogen and progesterone. This signals the shedding of the built-up uterine lining through menses.
What Is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of physical and emotional symptoms that occur anywhere between 1-2 weeks before your period.
Although PMS symptoms are very common among women, it doesn’t mean they have to be normal. I would say that in many cases, they are much more harsh than they need to be. If you are experiencing harsh or debilitating PMS symptoms beyond a slight discomfort, you may benefit from incorporating some therapeutic natural strategies.
Symptoms of PMS usually emerge during the drop in estrogen and progesterone before the shedding of the uterine lining. One of the primary factors that has been isolated as linked to harsh PMS symptoms is an imbalance in hormones. In particular, estrogen dominance may be at play for many women.
Symptoms of elevated estrogen include:
For the women I am writing to, the symptoms of PMS are much worse than the regular symptoms that come around when a cycle is about to start. There are many common physical symptoms, such as bloating, fatigue, cramps, breast swelling, etc. Apart from these symptoms, there may also be mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, and lack of concentration.
While hormone levels fluctuate differently for each woman, the symptoms they face may also vary. Some women display mild symptoms while some others have severe ones. Severe PMS symptoms are rare. However, there is a percentage of women who have severe symptoms.
In such cases, it is known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD (7). The symptoms include depression, suicidal tendencies, panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, and other extreme feelings. It also occurs due to a more pronounced imbalance in the estrogen and progesterone levels. In such cases, it is important to consult a doctor immediately.
How To Ease Symptoms Of PMS
Most women show at least some signs of PMS during their cycle. Following a healthy lifestyle and improving your diet, getting a lot of rest, and regular physical activity can reduce your symptoms. There is no absolute cure for PMS but there are steps you can take to make your PMS experience more mild.
On top of using lifestyle strategies to balance hormones and relieve PMS symptoms, another way to decrease the severity of the symptoms is by using Chasteberry. It is known to help women regain a normal menstrual cycle (3).
What Is Chasteberry?
The berry has its name for a reason. The chaste tree is a small shrub with lance-shaped leaves and purple flowers. Otherwise known as Vitex, it is a traditional remedy used to balance hormones and strengthen the body’s fertility systems.
Mostly cultivated in temperate climates around the world, it is native to the Eastern Mediterranean. This peppery fruit that resembles a peppercorn was recommended by the Greeks to help wives of soldiers remain fertile while they were in battle and also to abstain from having sexual desires.
The Chasteberry was also used by men to suppress sexual desire from building within. According to a study, it was found that it supports the body’s natural production of progesterone and luteinizing hormones and balances their ratio (6).
In ancient times, chasteberry was said to be an anaphrodisiac or something that lowers the libido. In other words, it is said to counter sexual desires. Hence, that’s where it gets its name from. Eventually it was used to help ease PMS and other menstrual difficulties. Apart from that, it helps balance other functions related to fertility including during pregnancy and menopause, and even has been used to increase fertility.
Chasteberry For PMS
Chasteberry acts as a mild remedy to ease the physical and emotional symptoms of menstruation by working on stabilizing the hormones (4). It is said that Vitex or Chasteberry can effectively reduce PMS symptoms by lessening the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. The cause of irregular menstrual cycles or even the absence of periods can sometimes be due to elevated prolactin levels.
Elevated prolactin levels are another reason for hormonal imbalances. By modulating prolactin, Chasteberry may also help balance female sex hormones to support a more regular menstrual cycle.
Many herbalists believe that Chasteberry is a source of naturally occurring progesterone. Chasteberry provides relief from the monthly symptoms associated with PMS, which include cramps, bloating, acne, breast tenderness, and mood swings. It does so by normalizing the ratio of estrogen to progesterone.
Other Benefits Of Chasteberry
Tenderness In Breasts: Breast tenderness occurs during menstruation, pregnancy or while breastfeeding. It is believed that Chasteberry can effectively reduce breast tenderness by reducing the release of the prolactin hormone from the pituitary gland.
Fertility: Chasteberry is beneficial for improving fertility in a woman. Progesterone is essential for conception and pregnancy. Irregular menstruation can lead to infertility and miscarriage if not addressed.
Clears Up Acne: There are many causes for the occurrence of acne. However, one prominent reason could be due to the imbalance of hormones in the body. With a fluctuation in hormones, the skin is also affected by breakouts. Since Chasteberry regulates the hormones, it can even help improve the quality of the skin.
Menopause: That’s right, Chasteberry not only balances hormones in young women who are menstruating, but also helps with perimenopause, which is the early stage of menopause (5). The Chasteberry extract helps menopausal women by making it less stressful.
Menstrual Cramps: Menstrual cramps are especially pronounced when hormones are imbalanced. Due to the hormone balancing effects of Chasteberry, menstrual cramps may also be relieved.
Uterine Fibroids: Another way that Chasteberry helps is by maintaining a balance in the system. When there are uterine fibroids in the system, there are many unpleasant symptoms that can make life difficult. Chasteberry again balances the ratio of progesterone to estrogen that contribute to uterine fibroids.
How To Use Chasteberry
Chasteberry shows gradual results. It supports the body’s normal functioning by stabilizing the hormones. However, proper results can be seen after 2-5 months of use. The herb may be slow-acting, but it has effective results. Chasteberry can be had in the capsule or dried forms, or in the form of a potion. They are mostly available as a supplement. However, for a more inexpensive way, it can be grown at home, or dried berries can be ordered online.
It is most effective when mixed with a bitter solvent or a tincture. This can be prepared even at home with the help of herbal vodka. You can simply add dry berries to a glass jar and pour vodka over the berries to prepare a tincture. Store it for a couple of weeks before consuming.
The dosage of Chasteberry depends on the potency of the particular product. The common side effects are mild and include dry mouth, gastrointestinal issues, headache, dizziness, and tiredness. Another way of having Chasteberry is by preparing a Chasteberry tea, it is full of vital vitamins that cure many health problems.
Vitex or Chasteberry is a woman’s best friend. It has numerous medicinal properties that help in balancing hormones in a woman. However, while using Vitex, women might first experience a slight difference in their cycles until they finally stabilize. The effects are slow, but it helps the body to balance itself in a normal way.
There may be side effects if taken improperly or in the incorrect dosage. It is always important to consult a doctor before trying any supplement. It is highly recommended to avoid taking Chasteberry during pregnancy, while breastfeeding or if you have breast cancer.
It is also best not to mix medicines, so if you are under any medication or on birth control pills, Vitex might have hormonal effects on the body and affect the brain cells. Hence, proper research and consulting with a healthcare professional is key.
If you are having chronic PMS symptoms than I always advise working with a trained functional health practitioner. One lab we use to get to the root cause of female hormonal imbalances is our DUTCH Complete Hormone panel which looks in detail at estrogen and progesterone as well as cortisol and DHEA levels. If you want to find out the underlying problems with your hormones you can order this test and do it at your home and my team will go over the results in detail with you and give you the best possible recommendations.
Dr. Jockers Notes:
Chasteberry, along with several other natural compounds, has been isolated as an effective PMS remedy. I have found that different remedies assist the body in different ways and therefore combining them can be very effective.
As you know now, harsh PMS symptoms are heavily influenced by hormonal balance. To really accelerate your results while using Chasteberry, look to incorporate hormonal balancing strategies into your life! I combined Chasteberry along with other well know PMS remedies in a therapeutic-dose formulation called Fem Protect for this very purpose.
Sources For This Article Include:
1. Menstruation – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 29 May 2017. Link
2. Premenstrual Syndrome – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 29 May 2017. Link
3. Premenstrual syndrome: Treating PMS symptoms.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 July 2013. Web. 29 May 2017. Link
4. Yonkers, K., O’Brien, S., & Eriksson, E. (2008). Premenstrual syndrome. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 357(5), 1200–1210. PMID: 8158606
5. Menopause – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 29 May 2017. Link
6. Westphal, L. M., Polan, M. L., & Trant, A. S. (2006). Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of FertilityBlend??: A nutritional supplement for improving fertility in women. Clinical and Experimental Obstetrics and Gynecology, 33(4), 205–208. PMID: 17211965
7. L., H., & Epperson, C. N. (2015). Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Epidemiology and Treatment. Current Psychiatry Reports, 17(11) (pagination), Arte Number: 87. Date of Publicaton: 24 No 2015. PMID: 26377947
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