The Hemp Connection + [vitex]

Should you supplement? Chastetree berry (vitex) Part 1

Chastetree berry is a very common supplement used by women with PCOS. Does it work? If so, how?

In order to better understand this interesting but complex herb, I thought I'd make this a series spread across several posts. I'm starting with the hormones affected by chastetree berry: luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin. Today I'll focus on LH.

Luteinizing hormone is the hormone that causes ovulation. It is also the hormone that promotes development of the follicle into a corpus luteum, the intermediary step between egg and embryo.

Luteinizing hormone is interesting in that what constitutes a"normal" level depends on what stage of a menstrual cycle you are referring to. Levels are low at the beginning of a cycle, they ramp up to a peak just before ovulation. After ovulation, they drop back down again. This graph shows a typical LH cycle in a woman who does not have PCOS.

In PCOS, there are two key variations on normal LH function to consider. First of all, when levels are supposed to be low, they tend to be high. Secondly, at the point they should be surging in order to induce ovulation, they are too low to do so. Here is a graph of LH function that is common to women with PCOS.

As you can see, restoring good LH function is not a matter of raising or lowering LH levels. It's a matter of restoring cyclicity…in other words, making sure LH is high when it should be high, and making sure it's low when it should be low. When you read information about vitex, or LH, in your own research, you should be looking for the word"normalize", rather than"raise" or"lower".

Next: a look at estrogen and ovulation.