Even though vitex (chasteberry) is a "natural" product, it does not mean that it is safe for use during pregnancy. Vitex can have a significant effect on hormones and a dosage that is too low or too high could actually interfere with your chances of getting pregnant. If you are using this product and pregnancy occurs, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.
Is Vitex Safe During Pregnancy?
Vitex (chasteberry) is an herbal supplement used to treat a number of different conditions, including infertility and repeated miscarriages. However, this herb is not considered safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks (or lack thereof) are not known.
Vitex and Infertility
One study has shown that vitex may increase the chance of achieving pregnancy in women with certain types of infertility. It is not clear how long vitex should be continued into the pregnancy or if vitex could cause any problems for the pregnancy. While tempting, you should not take vitex for treating infertility without your healthcare provider's supervision. The vitex dosage can have a significant effect on how vitex affects hormones, and a dosage that is too low or too high could actually interfere with your chances of getting pregnant.
Risks of Pregnancy and Vitex
It should never be assumed that natural products are automatically safe for pregnant women, even natural products that have been traditionally used during pregnancy. This is a mistake many pregnant women make. Pregnancy often limits the prescription and non-prescription drugs that are available for a woman to take. As a result, pregnant women often seek safe alternatives, sometimes assuming that herbal supplements are always safe. This is simply not the case. Herbal supplements can be marketed in the United States without any evidence that they are safe (or even effective) for anyone, including pregnant women.
Vitex can affect various hormones in an unpredictable manner. These hormonal changes could, theoretically, be harmful to a pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, it is always a good idea to have a discussion with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement, including vitex. This is very important, even if you think your healthcare provider will not understand your choice or will discourage the use of alternative medicines.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed March 16, 2009.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: chasteberry (April 2008). NCCAM Web site. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/chasteberry/. Accessed March 16, 2009.
Roemheld-Hamm B. Am Fam Physician 2005;72(5):821-4.
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