Vitex for PMS & Estrogen Dominance
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on January 6, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
What’s the connection between PMS, low serotonin, and the chocolate cravings we talked about in our earlier post? Well, you probably guessed it – hormones! In particular, estrogen.
The dance of our hormones is carefully choreographed; if one’s in misstep, chances are several others are, too. That “misstep” is often due to “estrogen dominance” – where there’s a relative excess of estrogen ‘twirling about’. (hogging the dance floor!)
This imbalance causes progesterone and other hormones (such as prolactin and luteinizing hormone), and neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, to fall out of step. (Serotonin low = chocolate cravings!)
Estrogen dominance is really common nowadays. Birth control pills, poor diet (including excess soy), drinking from plastic bottles, stress, and the biggie—the industrialized environment we live in—can all contribute. We’re constantly exposed to “xenoestrogens”–chemicals that resemble estrogen and can bind to our estrogen-receptors. When that happens, our body responds as if it’s estrogen doing the talking. The rollercoaster that ensues can include mood swings, cravings, bloating, headaches, cramps, depression, infertility, long cycles, ovarian cysts, fibroids…
To keep the influence of “outside” estrogens to a minimum, it’s really important to eat a healthy, clean diet, as free of pesticides and chemicals as possible. Keeping your liver in good shape with liver-supportive herbs like Dandelion and Oregon Grape root is also key. The liver helps make sure that estrogen and its metabolites get excreted properly and aren’t reabsorbed.
Progesterone-enhancing herbs such as Vitex (Chaste tree berry) can also help shift the balance away from “estrogen dominance.” Vitex is very effective in promoting progesterone production by the ovaries. It influences the pituitary and hypothalamus to regulate luteinizing hormone and prolactin production, which then indirectly enhance progesterone production.
Find out more about the herbs I recommend for PMS here:
Liver Support (Liver Detox Gold): http://bit.ly/hnphAm
Your hormones will soon be dancing in sync again!
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan