Vitex can be a helpful addition to other treatments for endometriosis. Taking the wrong dosage, however, can cancel out its beneficial effects.The herb vitex, also known as chasteberry and by its scientific name Vitex agnus castus, lowers estrogen levels when it is taken in a low dose, the dose recommended by responsible product manufacturers. Lowering estrogen reduces the swelling and inflammation occurring in endometrial tissue during the first half a woman's menstrual cycle. By removing the hormonal "fuel" for endometrial growth, vitex relieves the symptoms of endometriosis and sometimes restores fertility. If a woman takes too much vitex, however, it won't have any beneficial effect. A small amount of vitex normalizes levels of a great number of hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and prolactin. A large amount of vitex causes so many changes in hormone levels that they cancel each other out.
Vitex, of course, is not the only natural therapy for endometriosis. The inflammation that accompanies endometriosis can also be reduced by taking fish oil. This is a natural source of n-3 essential fatty acids that the body uses to make anti-inflammatory hormones. If you have the rare side effect of fishy burps when you take fish oil, you can get the same n-3 essential fatty acids from spirulina. There is good reason to believe that giving up caffeinated coffee (decaf is OK) may also help endometriosis. No medical researchers have ever run a study of giving up coffee as a treatment for endometriosis. Researchers know, however, that women who drink 7 or more cups of coffee a day are twice as likely to develop endometriosis as women who drink 3 cups of coffee a day or less.
Exercise is helpful for women who have endometriosis, but not for a reason most would expect. The endometriosis drug Danocrine (danazol) often causes masculine side effects, such as deeper voice, acne, and unwanted hair growth. These side effects are caused by changes in insulin resistance. Exercise, especially with a low-calorie diet, helps prevent these side effects. Vitex is not the only herb that is used to treat endometriosis. The traditional Chinese herb dong quai, combined with peony root, is also used to treat endometriosis and the infertility it causes.