In a nutshell
Vitex agnus castus – or chasteberry – is not recommended for pregnant women
The expert view
Agnus castus is a traditional herbal remedy for irregular periods, female infertility and PMS. It is also used for a range of other conditions, such as acne, headaches, colds and upset stomachs.
MFM’s GP Dr Philippa Kaye advises that as there is not a lot of information available about how safe it is for mum or baby during in pregnancy, it is best avoided.
“Some herbs are considered safe in pregnancy such as raspberry leaf tea or ginger root, while others, such as black cohosh, are known not to be safe,” says Dr Kaye. “So always speak to your doctor or antenatal team if you are considering taking herbal medications during pregnancy.”
Agnus Castus usage seems to divide opinion in the health, midwifery and complementary therapy communities. Some practitioners subscribe to the view it can boost fertility and help prevent miscarriage, while other research has found it offers “non-significant increase in fertility”.
Canadian scientists from the University of Toronto have reviewed the evidence around agnus castus use, because of these inconsistencies and the fact that women taking it may become pregnant.
They found that agnus castus “appears safe for general use”, but pointed out it is “important that we know more regarding its level of safety and possible therapeutic roles with respect to the breastfeeding mother and, especially, the expectant mother”.
Mums on our forum say
“I took agnus castus whilst trying to conceive my daughter and it helped regulate my periods and also my temperatures. The trick is to take it every day until you get the BFP (big fat positive) then stop the minute you get pregnant. Made me feel sick too but it was worth it as my cycles were much better. I can’t take it whilst trying to conceive #2 as am still breastfeeding #1.” LiveWire20436