By Sierra Zuppan and Margo Bachman
Vitex or Chaste tree berry is a wonderful herb that can help regulate the female reproductive system. It acts on the pituitary gland in the brain to regulate Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone levels (FSH). These hormones are essential in reproduction because they act directly on the ovaries to support follicle development. When LH surges prior to ovulation it stimulates the follicle to release a mature egg for fertilization. This is a great herb for women who are having irregular cycles, experiencing secondary amenorrhea (lack of periods), or are struggling with reproductive fibrotic disorders due to its regulatory effects on the female reproductive hormones.
In a 2017 systematic review of over 43 studies conducted on the use of Vitex, it was scientifically proven to be useful in managing PMS symptoms, as well as other reproductive system conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Vitex was also shown to increase LH production, which can largely support fertility and regularity in the menstrual cycle. In another 2019 study of 189 women, there was a significant increase in measurable, regular ovulation and in pregnancy outcome. Vitex’s regulatory characteristics are by far the most appealing for any women who is eager to become pregnant. This incredible herb is highly accessible, available from your local natural foods stores and can be taken 1-4 times daily in tincture or tea.
Maca grows in the Peruvian Andes and has been used for over 3,000 years for many purposes due of its adaptogenic properties and for its affinity for the female and male reproductive systems. Adaptogens are important when it comes to fertility and reproduction because they help our bodies adapt to non-specific stress. When the body is experiencing stress, it shuts down our reproductive and digestive centers, a primitive response that has allowed humans to survive and to reproduce only when it is “safe” to do so. Unfortunately, our bodies have the same physiological response to current day/emotional stress as we would to survival/physical stress like running from a dinosaur or lion. Adaptogens help regulate our nervous system, kicking in our rest and digest parasympathetic response that also says “Hey, it’s safe to make a baby!”
Another great quality of Maca is that has been used to increase libido in both men and women and it supports male spermatogenesis and motility. This versatile root is also packed full of vitamins and minerals. Maca is usually in a powdered form and can be taken in capsules or mixed with oatmeal or smoothies because it has such a delicious mild taste! These two herbs have an empowering, and nourishing energy and are a great way to start your path to pregnancy.
Antoine, E., Chirila, S., & Teodorescu, C. (2019). A Patented Blend Consisting of a Combination of Vitex agnus-castus Extract, Lepidium meyenii (Maca) Extract and Active Folate, a Nutritional Supplement for Improving Fertility in Women. Maedica, 14(3), 274–279. https://doi.org/10.26574/maedica.2019.14.3.274
Rafieian-Kopaei, M., & Movahedi, M. (2017). Systematic Review of Premenstrual, Postmenstrual and Infertility Disorders of Vitex Agnus Castus. Electronic physician, 9(1), 3685–3689. https://doi.org/10.19082/3685