One of the first plants I became intimate with is Vitex or chaste berry. I was first learning about herbs (or should I say remembering what was deep in my bones) when I started to experience excruciating pain each month. It turns out I had ovarian cysts that grew each month with my cycle and were determined on letting me know where my ovaries were in my body. The doctors of course wanted to put me on birth control pills to stop the cycle and the pain. I said no.
Knowing what I was dealing with I was sure I could fix the problem naturally. I had heard about Vitex agnus-castus and was willing to give it a try. It was said to take up to three months to show results. I could handle that. I didn’t want to take pharmaceuticals if I didn’t have to. I had been on the pill for years as it seemed the easiest option for birth control for me. It worked. But, not needing to use birth control any more thanks to my dear hubby I was free to go without medication. For me a half dropper of tincture every morning worked like a charm. The cysts went away. Every so often I feel a twinge but I can live with that. And it is only once or twice a year.
As I became familiar with Vitex I learned a lot about her qualities. She is known as a reproductive tonic. She has the effect of stimulating and normalizing pituitary gland functions, especially in progesterone function. She normalizes or balances female sex hormones. This makes her an ally to women of all ages. Both my daughters have found her helpful in their teen years when their menstrual cycles were finding their rhythm. They have experienced fewer cramps, lighter periods and less acne once taking Vitex. Prior to taking Vitex they had very heavy painful periods. She can also be beneficial during menopausal changes. She can aid your body in regaining hormonal balance after the use of birth control pills. She can increase breast milk production. She can shorten long periods and lengthen short periods.
It is her fruit that we use as medicine. Her dark berries are picked when ripe in the late fall and dried. The berries can then be made into a tincture or an infusion. An infusion is what I refer to as a strong tea – hot water is poured over the berries and steeped for 15 to 20 minutes.