****EDIT 09-29-2012 I still take vitex daily but after moving (which kind of changed my diet) I had some small cysts popping up. Not cool acne, not cool! This finally led me to consider the role of sugar and dairy in my diet. That blog post coming soon*******
Hi I wanted to add my support for vitex! I have not seen a lot of posts about it on Acne.org and I wanted to get a conversation going since I truly believe in it. I've been using vitex for the last six months and it has worked well for me. At first I was very skeptical. I'm NOT someone who takes all kinds of vitamins at all but a friend of mine suggested this since it worked for her. At that point in time I had been using RetinA and skinoren with pretty good results. At first they cleared my skin completely but over a few months a cyst or two would pop up on my cheeks. It seemed like the topicals were not enough. According to my doctors I could either go on Diane BC or accutane. Both of those were options I desperately did not want to try so I gave Vitex a go. I've been taking one pill a day regularly (except for July when I went on vacation, and moved cities). So in short, I like it, it works and I recommend it as worth trying. I'm going to go into detail about it below just for the benefit of whoever wants more info
My kind of acne: My hormones have been tested and found to be only slightly out of whack according to my doc. He was ready with a BC rx but I was not! My acne was severe a year ago and with the help of medical topicals and cleansers I was able to get it in check (not cleared). Even after my acne was in check I still had a bad breakout before my period every month (papules, pustules, inflamation, redness, etc). It would take forever to 'recover' from the breakout. Then right when my skin recovered from that breakout the process started all over again. Sound familiar?
Vitex is not the kind of thing that works really fast. I'd say into the 2nd month I noticed a change. The change was that my monthly breakout was not so severe. Instead of several pimples I might get one or two of the non-inflamed variety. These healed and went away instead of staying and inviting friends. Since then I've had months when I didn't break out at all. Like I said, my acne was not severe when I started using vitex but if yours is I would use vitex in conjunction with whatever topical your doctor might suggest. For my part I am thankful to have found an alternative to birth control or accutane.
I'll finish this post by admitting that I am excited about this supplement. I know I look like one of those people who are raving about the one thing they found that works. It is so easy to go through this website and read post after post about someone's wonder-cure. It can even be overwhelming. My advice is that if you are considering giving Vitex a try do a little research about the supplement. There are a few articles I found online from experts (NOT in forums) that helped me decide. One thing I've learned is that no two people are alike and so it takes time for us to discover what is the true cause of our acne and the right solution for each individual. I'm glad we have this website where we can at least share these experiences (the joyful and the painful).
Vitex is not a hormone, nor does it contain hormones. It is a gentle and slow-acting herb as opposed to a hormone prescription that can be expected to have a forceful and immediate impact on your glands and organs.It does not have the side effects that synthetic hormones have.
Vitex is made from the chaste tree berry and it works by acting on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands by increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) production and mildly inhibiting the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The result is a shift in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, in favor of progesterone. The ability of chaste tree berry to raise progesterone levels in the body is an indirect effect, so the herb itself is not a hormone.
Basically this herb helps with PMS and regulating your hormone levels and thus improving your cycles but as a bonus it may help treat your acne if your acne is the result of a hormone imbalance.