Vitex (chasteberry) is a traditional herb known for menstrual regulation. It’s tempting to turn to chasteberry if your hair loss is related to irregular periods, but it’s actually more important to figure out why your periods are irregular in the first place. Chasteberry, or vitex, has been used for decades to treat a wide variety of menstrual irregularities and PMS symptoms. There are some situations where using vitex to treat irregular periods will further support hair growth and there and other situations where vitex could worsen hair loss.
If your period is irregular because of high prolactin, then vitex can help regulate your period and support your hair growth! Prolactin is a pituitary hormone that promotes lactation during pregnancy and helps to regulate other hormones. High prolactin is associated with hirsutism (extra-body hair), anovulatory cycles (where you might bleed, but don’t ovulate), and low thyroid. Vitex helps regulate prolactin and limits the role of dihydrotestosterone in hair loss by regulating 5-alpha reductase.
[Five-alpha reductase transforms testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a potent form that shrinks hair follicles (Briden, 195). Prolactin up-regulates 5-alpha reductase, so balancing prolactin can limit the harmful effects of DHT.]
If your irregular periods are related to PCOS, then using vitex to treat your symptoms could worsen hair loss. Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common diagnosis for women who display a cluster of symptoms, including hair loss, high luteinizing hormone, and irregular periods.
According to Dr. Lara Biden, vitex is not recommended for women with PCOS because the herb can further elevate luteinizing hormone (LH), which is often already elevated in women with PCOS. A surge in luteinizing hormone is necessary to cue your ovary to release an egg, but abnormally elevated LH can prevent ovulation and cause your ovaries to produce androgens (like testosterone), which contribute to hair loss.
If your hair loss is not related to PCOS, but occurs along with insulin insensitivity, then vitex could play a positive role in your hair growth. This 2019 study found that Vitex improved insulin sensitivity and reduced fasting insulin. Regulating insulin is a key part of balancing your hormones, including testosterone. Elevated insulin increases testosterone and testosterone contributes to hair loss.
The key point here: work to understand the underlying cause of your hair loss before choosing an herbal supplement! Once you have a strong understanding of the imbalance that’s driving hair loss, you can start to correct the imbalance with diet and stress management routines. (The influence of diet and stress management routines can easily exceed the influence of herbal supplements.) Dialing in your diet and lifestyle routines will support hormone balance and internal harmony.
Hair loss is a challenge for every woman at any age. Healing your body and reversing hair loss is absolutely possible! If your hair loss is caused by hormonal imbalances, then the first step is to balance your lifestyle. Look at your diet, exercise and stress management routines. Does your lifestyle support balanced blood sugar, oxytocin production and cortisol metabolism? Herbs have a powerful effect on the body, but it’s day-to-day actions that keep our systems balanced.
This is your opportunity to focus on health. Reversing hair loss is a journey of inner and outer transformation, physical healing, and self-love. Take a moment every day to appreciate yourself exactly as you are.
Learn about other supplements for female hair loss in this guide: Hair Growth Supplements
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