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Vitex (also known as Chaste Tree and Monk's Pepper)
Agnus castus

Plant Origin: Croatia
Method: Steam distilled from leaves and berries (possibly produces a gentler oil)
Cultivation: Grown using organic methods
Aroma: Complex aroma, fresh, bitter, softer/bittersweet/floral as it evaporates
Note (Evaportation Rate): Middle
Key Constituents from GC/MS Analysis Lot# VTX-102
sabinene 32.64%
eucalyptol 24.08%
alpha terpinyl acetate 4.94%
<E-beta> farnesene 4.03%
alpha copaene 2.84%
bicyclogermacrene 2.38%
Children? Not suitable on pre-puberty children (due to potential hormonal action)
Pregnancy/Breastfeeding? Not suitable (Tisserand/Young).
Medication/Health Condition? 
Contraindicated Orally:
 Antidepressants (CYP2D6 substrates), Estrogen Replacement Therapy (may alter calibration), Oral Contraception (may negate) 
Contraindicated All Routes: Reproductive Hormone Modulation, Progesterone therapy 
Therapeutic Uses
We can find a lot of literature about the herbal uses of the Chaste tree, but very little documented information about the use of it as an essential oil. 

Vitex essential oil may support, aid, ease, soothe, reduce, calm, relax, promote and/or maintain healthy function of the following:
Hormones: Since Vitex is said to act a lot like bio-identical progesterone in the body, it is felt to be effective to balance estrogen dominance in both women and men (hair loss, prostate issues).
Hair loss
Endocrine system
Liver, calming
Menstrual issues, cramps, headaches, irritability, PMS
Miscarriages (due to luteal phase defects)
Nerves, relaxes tension
Parkinson's: L-dopa helps stimulate production of the neuro-transmitter L-dopamine in the brain, which is a factor in Parkinson's disease. Vitex contains sesquiterpenes, which cross the blood-brain barrier and it is felt to carry the L-dopa and other therapeutic properties there while the synthetic pharmaceutical products currently available cannot do this, making them less effective.
Polycystic ovary
Prostate, enlarged, cancer
Uterine firbroids

Research and Aromatherapy Literature Notes
PMS and Menopausal Issues: Vitex agnus castus has been shown to be a singularly effective agent to re-equilibrate progesterone and estrogen levels and to have pronounced benefits for PMS and menopausal complaints. (B. Meier, D. Berger, E. Hoberg, O. Sticher, adn W. Schaffner, "Pharmacological Activities of Vitex agnus-castus Extracts in Vitro," Phytomedicine 7, no. 5 (2000): 373-81.)

Vitex balances progesterone levels and moderates excess estrogen by direct action on the pituitary (Lucks 2003 p. 15) Aromatherapy for Health Professionals by Shirley and Leon Price.

Vitex - Fertility Super Herb? by Hethir Rodriguez C.H., C.M.T.

Kurt Schnaubelt (PhD in chemistry and founder and scientific director of Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy), notes that: Unlike any other essential oil, Vitex creates "proper estrogen-progesterone balance in the second half of the monthly cycle and therefore eases or eliminates PMS. In fact, it alleviates PMS more effectively than all other commonly suggested oils that mimic estrogen but does nothing to rectify the crucial balance between progesterone and estrogen." This is because Vitex has a "distinct influence on the pituitary gland, which in turn generates proper equilibrium of estrogen and progesterone in the body." Schnaubelt also notes that experimental internal use of one drop per day in the second half of the cycle "has so far not resulted in any noticeable adverse effects, only great effectiveness in controlling PMS.
Schnaubelt, Kurt PhD, Medical Aromatherapy, pages 207, 255.

In Freedom Through Health by Terry Shepherd Friedmann, M.D., he writes: In Europe the essential oil Vitex . . . is used to treat Parkinsons. According to the French physician Dr. Jean CLaude LaPraz, he had observed an 89% success rate in reversing the symptoms of this dreaded disease. He recommended inhaling Vitex and applying it to the spine and soles of the feet."

The following three paragraphs are from Aromatherapy PA by Roberta Wilson:
"Vitex is experiencing renewed popularity. For more than two thousand years, vitex has given women relief from menstrual difficulties, menopause, and other feminine complaints. The pituitary gland secretes progesterone and estrogen according to signals from the brain and other areas of the body. Chaste tree regulates and tones the female reproductive system through its action on the pituitary. Scientists have not isolated any one component within the plant that accounts for its remarkable effects on women; most likely the synergy of the components acting together is responsible for its actions."

"Vitex offers a safe, natural way to balance your hormones at the source of their secretion— the pituitary gland. Instead of supplementing your body with synthetic hormones that can make symptoms worse and produce intolerable side effects, you can regulate hormone secretion so that you produce the perfect balance— for you— of estrogen and progesterone. Vitex offers a safe alterative to HRT, especially if the side effects of taking synthetic hormones exceed the discomfort of the original menopausal complaints."

"Simply smelling vitex several times throughout the day can minimize or eliminate most of the problems associated with the change of life. Vitex works by balancing hormonal secretion in the pituitary gland, where it prompts your body to release the amounts of progesterone and estrogen that it needs. This eliminates the guesswork of HRT, the success of which depends on finding the right medication at the right dosage that will relieve symptoms without creating serious health conditions or severe side effects that are worse than the symptoms."

Application Suggestions (See Essential Oil Usage for more information and a dilution chart.)
Topical: We have little information on the use of this oil. Consider diluting with an unscented cream or lotion or a skin-moisturizing carrier oil. Testimonies below have mentioned application to spine for Parkinson's and on the ovaries, thyroid, ankles, wrist, inner thighs and orally for hormonal issues. If you find a particular application method that helps you, please let us know so we can share it with others.

Inhalation: Directly inhale or diffuse

Internal: Vitex is suitable for internal use within safe parameters if such use is deemed appropriate. We feel that internal use is rarely *needed* and should only be used with respect for how concentrated the oils are. HEO does not advocate internal use of essential oils without appropriate knowledge and understanding of how to administer, for what purpose, how much, which essential oils, safety concerns and so on. In our experience, essential oils are generally more effective used topically with proper dilution or inhaled. Kurt Schnaubelt Ph.D. notes that "French aromatherapy literature contains many references to using oils orally." He goes on to note that "generally 1 drop is always enough when ingesting essential oils." A potential toxicity hazard could occur when untrained people use essential oils orally and ingest too much. Keep in mind that while medical doctors or health care practitioners may prescribe essential oils for internal use, they are trained and experienced in the safe application of essential oils. It is not a matter of using "French aromatherapy" or "British" methods, it's a matter of experience and appropriate application.

Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D wrote in The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils (p. 133) that 1 drop can be taken internally for PMS and menopausal issues. Schnaubelt also notes in Medical Aromatherapy that experimental internal use of one drop per day in the second half of the cycle "has so far not resulted in any noticeable adverse effects, only great effectiveness in controlling PMS.
Click here for more information about internal usage.

The following anecdotal testimonies have not been reviewed by the FDA.
The products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure disease.
Information shared on the HEO website is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice given by your trusted health care provider.
We believe that essential oils are provided by the Lord to support our health and well-being.
The Lord is our wisdom, protector and healer.
(Genesis 1:29-30, Ezekiel 47:12) 
1. I've been applying Vitex diluted with coconut oil, usually in the morning, on my feet, around the ankles or inside the thigh. Sometimes if I am in a hurry, I just use it neat on my wrist. I feel that it's been helping my moodiness. - Allison

2. I have taken progesterone and Vitex. I can only take progesterone for short periods of time. The Vitex helps keep me balanced in-between. - Sheri

3. This has helped me tremendously with my hormone imbalance: 1 drop Vitex every hour on the tongue + 1 drop Clary Sage every hour on the bridge of my nose and around my navel. - Naomi S.

4. I've been using Vitality for several months and haven't experienced a return of my cycles yet, so I felt it might be wise to experiment a bit with adding different oils. Linda suggested that I might consider adding some Vitex to the Vitality and see how that works. I added about 10 drops each of the Vitex and Vitality blend to a roll-on applicator and filled the rest with fractionated coconut oil. I have used it for about 3 days now, 2-3 times daily on my ovary area and thyroid. I am happy to report that I started my menstrual cycle today! It has been over 100 days since my last cycle, so this is wonderful news! - S.M.

5. I used Vitex on my mother with Parkinsons with great results. I diluted it to 3% (about 15 drops Vitex to an ounce of fractionated Coconut oil) and massaged it on her spine morning and night. Sometimes the grandkids would give her a foot massage with it. She loves it :-)  - Maggie

6. We have almost totally resolve Tourette's symptoms by using Strength and Vitex. Peaceful is also helpful, but I think the key is Vitex. - Sophie

7. This past cycle in lieu of compounded progesterone I used Vitex at a 1% dilution rate mostly on my big toe at the pituitary gland site. I didn't know if it would work, but I wanted to try it. I am happy to say that it does indeed work! With the compounded progesterone used during peak (fertilitly) day +3 through peak day +12, my cycle grew from 25 days to 29. This time around with Vitex at peak day +3, my cycle lengthened past 29 days and I wondered if I needed to stop using it to allow my body to have a period. I kept up the use of it until I confirmed pregnancy by day 31. God be praised! My NaProTechonology doctor performed 2 surgeries last summer and found uterine polyps and then endometriosis. Prayer, diet, supplements, detox and essential oils have all played a part as well. - Laura

8. I recently ordered the Vitex blend for my father for what we suspect is the beginning of Parkinson's. After using it only a few days (and only in the evenings before bed), he is improving. My parents and I are so thrilled! - Marian

9. My life-long irregular cycles finally normalized with a daily application of 2% Vitex over my ovaries, thyroid, ankles, wrist and inner thighs. I also experience less cramping and PMS symptoms. - Casey

10. My cycle ceased without explanation for a few months, so I decided to give Vitex a try. I diluted it at 2% and applied over my ovaries every morning and sometimes early afternoon. Within 2 weeks, my cycle returned. I kept up the application, for another month, and my cycle returned right on schedule. This is pretty amazing! - Tina

11. I've found great improvement since using Vitex for my debilitating hot flashes. They are almost non-existent now after applying 2% Vitex over my ovaries daily. - Kim

12. I shared my Vitex with my 12-year-old daughter who have hormonal headaches, and they have completely disappeared! She applied 2% Vitex from my roll-on applicator over her ovaries whenever she felt one coming on, and they never developed into full-blown headaches, so I encouarged her to apply it every morning, and now they don't plague her at all. Sweet! - Casey

13. I started having vaginal dryness after menopause came on, so I decided to give Vitex a try since it had helped me with my hot flashes. I mix up a 2% dilution with Emu oil and inserted vaginally every evening after my shower and every morning before dressing. This seems to have virtually resolved the problem. - Kim

Drug interaction: Reproductive hormone modulation (Tisserand).

Contraindications (all routes): Progesterone therapy, pregnancy breastfeeding, prepubertal children (Tisserand).

Oral Cautions: May cause unpleasant side effects in some women (Tisserand). Oral use is cautioned when taking drugs metabolized by CYP2D6, estrogen, replacement therapy, oral contraceptives (Tisserand).

Robert Tisserand wrote: "We do not consider that essential oils containing phytoestrogens pose any significant risk to people with estrogen-sensitive cancers.”

Lucks 2002: "Although the dopaminergic activity might suggest that chaste tree [extract] is best avoided during lactation, clinical trails have demonstrated its postitive activity, albeit at low doses."

Avoid contact with the eyes and other sensitive areas. Essential oils are both lipophilic and hydrophobic. Lipophilic means they are attracted to fat— like the membranes of your eyes and skin. They are also hydrophobic, meaning they do not like water. Applying a carrier oil will create another fat for the essential oil to be attracted to other than the membranes of the eyes or skin. Tisserand suggests: "With essential oils, fatty oil has been suggested as an appropriate first aid treatment, though the advantage of saline [eyewash] is that the eyes can be continually flushed, and this is less easy with fatty oil.” We are not aware of a case where essential oil in the eyes caused permanent injury or long-term discomfort, but if you feel concerned, please call your health care provider. 
Friedmann MD, Terry Shepherd, Freedom Through Health, 1998.
Price, Shirley and Len, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Third Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2008, page 117.
Schnaubelt, Kurt, The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils, 2111, page 133.
Schnaubelt, Kurt, Medical Aromatherapy, 1999, pages 207, 255.
Tisserand, Robert; Young, Rodney (2013-12-02). Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Elsevier Health Sciences UK, pages 152-153, 185, 246-247.
Wilson, Roberta, Aromatherapy PA, Penguin Group US, 2002.