NAPS Forum

Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me
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Author:  julietoc [ Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me

I am surprised to find very little mention of Agnus Castus on this site. For me it transformed my life. I had terrible cramps and was prescribed morphine and tried various pills, the Minera coil and considered hysterectomy, before stumbling across it after reading a newspaper article.

Been taking 20mg a day for the last six years.

Really annoyed that neither GPs nor Gynaecological Consultants can prescribe it, even though when I raise it they admit they have heard good things about it- but drug companies control what we are prescribed not clinical expertise (and it is all about profits for patented drugs). My opinion of course.

Clinical evidence for Agnus Castus

Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study.
BMJ. 2001. Schellenberg R. Institute for Health Care and Science, 35625 Hüttenberg, Germany.
Dr. R. Schellenberg compared the efficacy and tolerability of agnus castus fruit (Vitex agnus castus L extract Ze 440) with placebo for women with the premenstrual syndrome. Vitex agnus castus (dry extract tablets) one tablet daily or matching placebo, given for three consecutive cycles. Dry extract of agnus castus fruit is an effective and well tolerated treatment for the relief of symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome.

He et al (2009) In this prospective, double-blind, placebo- controlled, parallel group, multicentre clinical trial 217 Chinese women suffering from moderate to severe premenstrual syndrome were randomly assigned into the VAC treatment group (n=108) or the placebo group (n=109). Each tablet of the investigational drug BNO 1095 contains 4.0 mg of dried ethanolic extract (70%) of VAC (8.5 – 12.5:1; corresponding to 40 mg of herbal drug). The mean total Premenstrual Syndrome Diary (PMSD) score decreased from 29.23 at baseline to 6.41 at the termination of the 3rd cycle for the treatment group and from 28.14 at baseline to 12.64 at the termination of the 3rd cycle for the placebo group. The total PMSD score of 3rd cycle was significantly lower than the baseline in both groups (p<0.0001). The difference in the mean scores from the baseline to the 3rd cycle in the treatment group (22.71±10.33) was significantly lower than the difference in the placebo group (15.50±12.94, p<0.0001). According to the results of this study, VAC is a safe, well-tolerated and effective drug for the treatment for women with moderate to severe PMS.

And in a study comparing Prozac with Agnus Castus, it was found to be as equally effective (particularly for physical symptoms) but with none of the side effects (such as loss of libido, which effects 80% of women).
Vitex agnus and PMS

Fluoxetine versus Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Hum Psychopharmacol. 2003. Atmaca M, Kumru S, Tezcan E. Firat University, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Elazig, Turkey.
Clinical trials have demonstrated that serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) and the extract of Vitex agnus castus are effective for the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. However, to the best of our knowledge, there has been no study comparing the efficacy of the SRIs with Vitex agnus castus extract. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to compare the efficacy of fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), with that of the Vitex agnus castus extract extract. Forty patients with PMS were randomized to fluoxetine or Vitex agnus castus extract for 2 months. A similar percentage of patients responded to fluoxetine (68) and Vitex agnus castus extract (58). This preliminary study suggests that patients with PMS respond well to treatment with both fluoxetine and Vitex agnus castus extract. However, fluoxetine was more effective for psychological symptoms while the extract diminished the physical symptoms.
Anyone else tried it? The dose must be 20mg or above to be effective.

Unfortunately, new EU regulations forcing all herbal medicines to be licensed has led to a reduction in dosage from 20mg to 4mg per tablets (based on traditional use for Traditional Herbal Registration) – with a recommended daily intake of 4-8mg. This renders the drug ineffective. For more on the effect of these regulations I have a blog ‘Juliet O’Callaghan Writes’.

Really shocked that women are going through hysterectomies for PMT, without first trying 20-40mg standardised extract of Agnus Castus a day. So many women I know in the real world and that come to my blog have found it effective for emotional and physical symptoms.

Really want to know if NAPS are doing any research on it and how we get it to be offered as one of the first line treatments GPs and Gynae consultants suggest. Minimal side effects and been used safely for hundreds of years, the same cannot be said for anti-depressants or other medical interventions.

Just to be clear. I do not work for a herbal company. I am a teacher in a secondary school, with no vested interest. I am however angry at the restrictions on dosage, which will deprive many women a safe and effective treatment for PMS.

Love to hear about peoples experience with Agnus Castus. For me it really was the answer. :D

Author:  pmddsurvivor [ Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me

Hi, I'm pleased to hear that Agnus Castus is working well for you. I tried it many years ago but unfortunately it made my symptoms worse :( It is listed in the guidelines as a beneficial treatment for PMS but as with all treatments, one size doesn't fit all unfortunately. Hope it continues to work well for you.

Author:  julietoc [ Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me

Thanks for replying and sorry to hear it didn't work for you.

Clinical trials suggest 60%- 80% of women report a reduction in symptoms.

You're right there is not one treatment that 'fits all', but Agnus Castus is definitely worth a try, before more drastic medical treatments are started.

I just wish it could be prescribed alongside other treatments and before anti-depressants are offered.

Author:  floralgirl [ Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me

Anus castus has a progesterone type effect so if you are sensitive to progesterone as most Pmdd ladies are then it will symptoms worse.

I have had a hyst and ovaries removed and I tried everything and everything pre op. part from suppression.

I didn't rush into this lightly.


Author:  pmthater [ Fri Apr 12, 2013 3:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me

Thanks for putting this up - think its a credible alternative for some!

Author:  julietoc [ Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me

Having just received the email from NAPS, I came on here to have a look at the guidelines for clinicians for treating PMS. I was really glad to see that NAPS treatment guidelines suggest, as second line treatment after diet and exercise changes, Agnus Castus 20mg-40mg, before the more drastic hormonal and SRRI drugs. However I was never offered this and was told by both my GP and Gynae consultant that they couldn't prescribe Agnus Castus because it did not appear in the BNF.

Link to NAPS guidelines ... forPMS.jpg

Therefore I question the usefulness of guidelines, which recommend a complementary treatment that can neither be prescribed nor found at a reasonable price and at the efficacious dosage on the high street. (Since 2011 restrictions have been placed on herbal drugs. Agnus Castus can now only be sold at 4mg per tablet, with the recommended daily dosage of 4-8mg, which is not effective)

I did write to NAPS to find out if they were involved in any trials for Agnus Castus as I would obviously be interested in taking part, but they did not respond.

It also concerns me that NAPS is in part funded by pharmaceutical companies. After the Sarafem debacle in the US, where Prozac was rebranded as a cure for PMDD, just when the original patent was running out, I don’t think my concerns are unfounded.

What do others think about pharmaceutical donations? And has anyone been offered Agnus Castus as a credible treatment option?

Author:  pmddsurvivor [ Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me

Hi Julie,

Personally I tried AC and reacted very badly to it as it's progestogenic in it's actions and I am most definitely progesterone intolerant! For some women it works but for others not so much.

julietoc wrote:
It also concerns me that NAPS is in part funded by pharmaceutical companies.
I'm not sure it is, but has connections with some companies. NAPS is a charity and relies on donations and membership fees to survive. I'm sure someone from NAPS will be along to set the record straight.

Hope you manage to source some AC at a reasonable price soon. Holland and Barrett have a penny sale on at the moment and I think you can get 400 capsules for £14 just now. All the best. Jx

Author:  julietoc [ Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me

Thanks for your reply PMDDsurvivor.

Can you explain what you mean by AC being a progestogenic? And being progesterone intolerant?

In terms of sourcing AC that is my point, NAPS are recommending it as a second line treatment, but it is not available in the UK at the correct dosage (not since 2011 despite trials showing how effective it is), nor is it prescribable. Is NAPS doing anything about pushing this so it can be prescribed because if not the guidelines are of little use to doctors as more drastic treatments will be offered.

My concern over funding from big Pharma is that these companies are not altruistic - can their funding for example be used for research into herbal remedies by NAPS - and do they have any say in the agenda of NAPS and these study days? If so, then NAPS is not an independent organisation and non-medical treatments may not be given the same weight. This is important to know if you are following advice from NAPS as a skew towards patented drugs is clearly in the interests of Pharma and not necessarily women.

I would welcome a response from NAPS. I wrote to them months ago about Agnus Castus and whether they were involved in any trials, but have heard nothing.

I am sorry AC didn't work for you - although with dosage issues, it could be that you weren't taking the correct amount. I notice NAPS also recommend in their guidelines to doctors that women try Red clover Isoflavines. I have not read up on this, and have no idea if there is any research trials to support it, but has anyone found this to be effective?

Author:  pmddsurvivor [ Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me

Hi, Agnus Castus is what's known as a phytoprogesterone which means it is a phytosterol with progesterone like activity. Most of my worst PMDD symptoms were when my progesterone was high in my cycle and I reacted VERY badly to combined oral contraceptives, the mirena coil and combined HRT meaning I was able to determine progesterone intolerance. I am ok taking low dose oestrogen and testosterone HRT.

I found your blog whilst trying to find AC in the correct dosage and can see you've had problems with it for a while. It seema a bit strange that it's recommended and yet not available, I agree. As for the Isoflavones, if you look at the detailed guidelines here ... ndrome.pdf you will see that whilst they appear on the guidelines, more research is required into their effectiveness and preferance is given to AC and Calcium with Vitamin D.

It's a minefield and I guess we need to tread carefully.

I'm sure that advice from NAPS as a charity is balanced towards the women's needs individually and someone from NAPS will respond to your queries later today.

Author:  julietoc [ Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Agnus Castus 20mg worked for me

Thanks so much for explaining. Yes I am frustrated by the fact that AC is not available at the correct dosage. There is no will to do research into herbal remedies because there is no money to be made from the treatments. I really hoped NAPS would be championing this type of research but this would not sit well with pharma companies hence my concern over their donating to NAPS. I really believe that antidepresants are not the answer. I was depressed because my life was out of control. Balancing hormones was the answer not a druf that affects libido in 80% of those that take it. Many women have left testimonials on my blog abbout the huge benwfits of AC and it is so disheartening to realise most women do not know how effective it is and end up taking prozac and horrible hormonal treatment.

Agnus Castus and other less invasive options should always be tried first. But this is not happening and dosage restrictions has made the situation uch worse.

Please forgive typos on phone on train.

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