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by Raychel Agramon, June 09, 2021
Thought to promote chastity, the berry of the plant Vitex agnus-castus was given by ancient Romans and Greeks to suppress the ‘desires’ of both men and women. Now, it is widely used for a variety of conditions. It is known to balance the hormones in the body, and as such is used in menses-related conditions. With such an effect, this supplement may hold the promise against acne vulgaris as well.
What is the Vitex or Chaste Tree Berry?
The chaste tree, famous for its purple-black berries, is native to Central Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean. A member of the Verbenaceae family, it is known for its finger-like leaves.
According to the Alternative Medicine Review, the chaste tree berry contains four active components that are beneficial to the body. They are:
How Hormonal Changes Lead to Acne
Hormonal acne, as the name implies, erupts due to hormonal changes in the body. It is usually brought about by increased levels of androgen, a male hormone. According to the National Institute of Health, this can occur due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or certain tumors.
High androgen levels can also result from hyperprolactinemia. In this condition, there is an increased production of prolactin, which can disrupt hormonal balance in the body.
Any of these disorders can stimulate the ovaries to produce more androgens, specifically that of testosterone. This hormone then prompts the sebaceous (oil) glands to produce more sebum. While this can help moisturize your skin, it can clog the pores – together with dead skin cells and bacteria. The result: red, inflamed hormonal breakouts.
How the Chaste Tree Berry Works Against Acne
The body is a system of checks and balances. If one hormone floods the body, it could stop the production of others through a mechanism called negative feedback. As such, it is important to keep these substances 'regulated' to prevent problems such as hormonal acne.
Research shows some promise in taking the Vitex supplement to keep acne at bay. According to the American Botanical Council, this berry may help balance hormone production in the body through the following ways:
To wit, women with hormonal acne usually have low levels of Luteinizing hormone (LH). This happens due to the high testosterone levels in the body.
Concerning acne, a study has shown that LH can help suppress androgen production. This is where the chaste tree berry comes in. Study indicates that it can help increase LH production, thereby leading to lower testosterone levels in the body. This helps stop excessive sebum production, making the skin less prone to acne.
As mentioned, high prolactin levels can affect hormone levels in the body. According to Naumova et al., it can lead to hyperandrogenism, where there is excessive production of male hormones in the body. Should this be the reason, oral contraceptives – which are usually given to regulate hormones – may not work against acne. This explains why some people continue to have pimples despite trying everything on the market.
For such cases, the authors recommend a medication that can counteract hyperprolactinemia. Chaste tree berry may just be the best candidate for this, as it is known to help decrease prolactin secretion in the body. This action then prevents the surge of androgens, which are the culprits behind hormonal acne.
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Acne as a Side Effect
Yes, it is ironic. While the chaste tree berry may help reduce acne with continued intake, it may lead to breakouts during initial use. That's because this fruit helps increase the levels of progesterone in the body. This hormone is vital for regulating the menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, it is also behind some bodily changes that lead to acne.
According to Dr. Audrey Kunin, progesterone makes the skin swell, shutting the pores closed. To make matters worse, it also increases the production of sebum. Indeed, these are the perfect ingredients for an acne disaster.
Although that is the case, know that these pimples will disappear over time. After all, the body will need some time to adjust to the hormonal effects of your chaste berry tree supplement. With continued use, your pimple marks will vanish as quickly as it appeared.
How to Take Your Chaste Tree Berry Supplement
Compared to other natural supplements, the Chaste tree berry comes with a standard dosage. According to the German Commission, a dose of 30-40 milligrams is safe to be taken daily. This is equivalent to:
The Alternative Medicine Review also adds that long-term use is necessary to enjoy the supplement’s beneficial effects. To wit, you may need to take it for 4 to 6 months to see the results.
Like most medicinal herbs, the chaste tree berry comes with mild and infrequent side effects. These include acne, hives, headache, fatigue, and dry mouth. It may also cause nausea, agitation, a fast heart rate, and stomach upset.
The Vitex or Chaste berry tree supplement could be a viable option for hormonal acne. It may help increase LH production, which could help to decrease androgen levels in the body. It can also help lower prolactin levels, which helps reduce the male hormones that bring about acne.
While it may help reduce pimple development in the future, this supplement can lead to some breakouts during early use. As such, continued intake is recommended to benefit from the acne-reducing effects of the chaste tree berry.
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