We see a lot of women for menstrual and fertility issues in our clinic. And I’d probably guess that 80% of them have taken, or are taking, Vitex. It seems Vitex is the “go-to” supplemental herb for all things menstrual related.
We use Vitex fruit in Traditional Chinese medicine too.
However, we use it for head colds and eye related symptoms.
At Uni, we learn all the herbs that are commonly used in Traditional Chinese medicine (between 200-300) by their Chinese/PinYin name.
Vitex, in Chinese, is called Man Jing Zi. Translated, it means Vitex vine fruit.
We learn that Man Jing Zi is in a category we classify as having dispersing, or diaphoretic, actions. This means it induces diaphoresis, or sweating.
Man Jing Zi is in a category of herbs that help to clear head colds.
Because of its diaphoretic action on the body, we only use this herb for a short time, and only when patients have particular head cold symptoms. (Vitex is not appropriate for all types of head colds).
It should be noted that Chinese medicine pays very close attention to the types of symptoms one has when suffering from a head cold. You know how sometimes you have a head cold with a thumping headache, sneezing, sore throat and feeling hot and clammy? But other times you have a head cold with a clear runny nose, feeling a bit cold/wanting to put on a jumper, and a tickly cough. These are different symptoms, right? Therefore, they need different herbs.
We mainly use Man Jing Zi when the patient has head cold symptoms that include a headache, or eye pain with excessive tearing, red, painful or swollen eyes. Sometimes we would use it if, in conjunction with having a head cold, or recovering from a head cold, the patient has stiffness, numbness, heaviness or cramping in their arms or legs.
All herbs have an effect on one’s Qi circulation. Herbs can either move gently, or break harshly, or they can nourish, cool, warm or drain. Some herbs that are gentle can be used for long periods of time. Other herbs that are harsh we only use for short periods of time.
The nature of Man Jing Zi has quite a “moving” and “dispersing” nature on one’s Qi. It moves Qi up to the head to help with headaches and eye related symptoms.
Therefore, it is not a gynecological herb in the Traditional Chinese medicine sense.
I found it interesting that in one text I looked up, Man Jing Zi was said to help “promote the growth of beards”…so maybe it’s not quite appropriate for PCOS sufferers…?
If it is used at all by a Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner for gynecological reasons, it would only help those who have very specific menstrual related symptoms, and it would only be used short term due to it’s dispersing, diaphoretic action. The symptoms that it may help would be things like pre-menstrual headache or migraine with sore/bloodshot eyes, perhaps with accompanying breast pain/soreness/tenderness. Man Jing Zi would be used, howver, in an elegant formula, consisting of other herbs that treat the overall person, and not just their symptoms. Man Jing Zi would never be used as a stand alone herb.
Did you like this blog post? Leave a comment below, tell us what you think. What has your experience been with Vitex?