Progesterone cream and vitex/agnus castus

by Julie

Hi! I have been taking progesterone cream for many years now and wish to wean down and perhaps look at herbal remedies instead. Is it safe to combine progesterone cream and vitex tablets/drops? If I want to wean myself off the cream altogether, should I use the vitex well before I do that - I think it takes 3 months for the herb to get fully into the systme, but I am not sure? I think I would like to try herbs to see if it can make my body balance itself out instead of just adding progesterone to my system. I am weaning down from over 600mg per day throughout my cycle (now on about 450mg) every day, weaning slowing, and the high doses have left me with even thinner hair, weight gain and breast lumps. I am beginning to think that I need to go down a different route...I started DIM a month ago too. I want to start ovulating again and producing my own progesterone. Any advice about the vitex would be great! Thank you.

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Sep 03, 2012
Progesterone cream and vitex/agnus castus
by: Wray

Hi Julie You are using a high amount, normally this isn't needed for any length of time. Not that it's harmful, just costly! Unfortunately vitex won't increase progesterone levels, and could increase oestrogen as it has oestrogenic properties. Agnus castus, it's official name, has been used for many problems which women suffer from, PMS, mastalgia, menstrual irregularities, fibrocystic breasts, increasing lactation and more, see here. In days gone by it was used by monks to reduce sexual desire, hence it's name 'chasteberry'. It can also reduce prolactin levels, prolactin is an inflammatory hormone and can cause tender breasts, see here, and luteal phase dysfunction, with subsequent problems in embryo implantation, see here. But because it has a mild oestrogenic action, levels of 17 beta-oestradiol can increase. One study found mild ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome occurred in the luteal phase, see here. If prolactin levels are high both progesterone and the amino acid tyrosine are very affective at suppressing it. Agnus castus doesn't contain progesterone. It's active constituents are the essential oils limonene, cineol, pinene, and sabinene. The iridoid glycosides aucubin, agnuside, and eurostide. The flavonoids casticin, kaempferol, quercetagetin, orientin, and isovitexin. And the diterpenes vitexilactone, rotundifuran, and 6-beta,7 beta-diacetoxy-13-hydroxy-labda-8,14-dien. It also contains several essential fatty acids, including oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid. We do have two pages on breasts, see Breast Tenderness and Breast Cysts. Hair Loss is caused by excess testosterone. So it would appear your oestrogen and testosterone are rising as you reduce the progesterone. Possibly you are reducing too quickly? I suggest no more than 16mg per reduction, and staying on that a few days or a week or two, before reducing further. Continued below.

Sep 03, 2012
Progesterone cream and vitex/agnus castus Part 2
by: Wray

Hi Julie DIM is regarded as an anti-oestrogen. Oestrogen is broken down into 2 principle metabolites, 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE1) and 16-alpha hydroxyestrone (16alpha-OHE1). 16alpha-OHE1 is regarded as a potent oestrogen, whereas 2-OHE1 is a weaker oestrogen. In some studies DIM (3,3'-Diindolylmethane) increased levels of 2-OHE1, by doing so it also increases the ratio of 2-OHE1:16alpha-OHE1. This increased ratio is associated with a lower risk for breast cancer in some studies, not in others. It appears to have a positive affect on pancreatic, thyroid, prostate and gastric cancers too, and leukemia. The precursor to DIM is Indole 3 Carbinol (I3C) which also has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. These are a selection of papers here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here You could try taking calcium D-glucarate, which does help reduce oestrogen. Oestrogen is metabolised in the liver by glucuronic acid, the process is known as glucuronidation. Glucuronidation is one of the major detoxification pathways of the liver. It removes carcinogens, toxins, tumour promoters, the sex hormones ie, the androgens and oestrogens, mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids, aromatic and heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, various nitrosamines, drugs, fungi etc. It's then excreted in the bile, but an enzyme in the intestine called beta-glucuronidase reverses the glucuronidation process. It breaks the glucoronide bond between a toxin and glucuronic acid, and releases carcinogens, toxins and excess steroid hormones back into circulation. Continued below.

Sep 03, 2012
Progesterone cream and vitex/agnus castus part 3
by: Wray

Hi Julie There's evidence beta-glucuronidase activity is increased in breast and prostate cancer. Calcium D-glucarate inhibits beta-glucuronidase, see here, here, here and here. Incidentally this enzyme is produced by undesirable gut bacteria, supplementing with probiotics suppresses the bacteria, and subsequently the beta-glucuronidase. Silymarin from milk thistle also inhibits beta-glucuronidase, plus it helps the liver detox. Using progesterone daily as you are does stop ovulation, but once you're down to an optimal level and feeling stable, you can stop using it when you next bleed, and then only use it after ovulation. This won't prevent you making your own progesterone. I'm not sure what age you are now, but if in Peri-menopause, it could be you won't make sufficient to counter any excess oestrogen. If you're younger, you might like to read our page on How to use progesterone cream. Take care Wray

Sep 04, 2012
progesterone cream and vitex
by: Julie

Thanks for your detailed reply Wray. I have weaned down slowly - by about 0.5ml every few days to a week. I have noticed that although my hair didn't shed much on the higher doses, it has thinned, which is both surprising and worrying. My hair has lost as lot of volume and I can see parts of my scalp. I thought progesterone was meant to help this not make it worse? I was on about 600 ml per day. Also the breast lump does not seem to be cyclical either - it has been there since June and again I thought progesterone at high doses was supposed to help against lumps. The lump isn't tender, it feels like a marble under the skin, and I am waiting for a hospital appointment to get it checked out. I am also looking into hair pieces, as I cannot go on like this. I am 40 and want to get back to a proper cycle again and I feel as though this cream is taking over my life! The weight I have gained looks bad on me too as I am naturally thin. I don't recognize myself these days.

Sep 04, 2012
progesterone cream and vitex
by: Julie

Thanks for your detailed reply Wray. I have weaned down slowly - by about 0.5ml every few days to a week. I have noticed that although my hair didn't shed much on the higher doses, it has thinned, which is both surprising and worrying. My hair has lost as lot of volume and I can see parts of my scalp. I thought progesterone was meant to help this not make it worse? I was on about 600 ml per day. Also the breast lump does not seem to be cyclical either - it has been there since June and again I thought progesterone at high doses was supposed to help against lumps. The lump isn't tender, it feels like a marble under the skin, and I am waiting for a hospital appointment to get it checked out. I am also looking into hair pieces, as I cannot go on like this. I am 40 and want to get back to a proper cycle again and I feel as though this cream is taking over my life! The weight I have gained looks bad on me too as I am naturally thin. I don't recognize myself these days.

Sep 04, 2012
progesterone cream and vitex
by: Julie

Thanks for your detailed reply Wray. I have weaned down slowly - by about 0.5ml every few days to a week. I have noticed that although my hair didn't shed much on the higher doses, it has thinned, which is both surprising and worrying. My hair has lost a lot of volume and I can see parts of my scalp. I thought progesterone was meant to help this not make it worse? I was on about 600 ml per day. Also the breast lump does not seem to be cyclical either - it has been there since June and again I thought progesterone at high doses was supposed to help against lumps. The lump isn't tender, it feels like a marble under the skin, and I am waiting for a hospital appointment to get it checked out. I am also looking into hair pieces, as I cannot go on like this. I am 40 and want to get back to a proper cycle again and I feel as though this cream is taking over my life! The weight I have gained looks bad on me too as I am naturally thin. I don't recognize myself these days.

Sep 04, 2012
progesterone cream and vitex
by: Wray

Hi Julie You're certainly weaning using the right amount. But I'm very surprised you have gained weight on such a high amount, I've never heard that before. Progesterone speeds metabolism and cannot stimulate cells to proliferate, it inhibits mitosis. It also can't cause water retention, another factor which increases weight. In fact it's an excellent diuretic, given to Traumatic Brain Injury victims to prevent any oedema. We do have a page on Hair Loss which might shed some light on things. There are a number of nutrients which help, unstable blood glucose is often behind hair loss. A lack of vitamin D too, a lack of this also reduces the benefits of progesterone. Many women find by adding vitamin D to their protocol the persistent symptoms resolve, see here. We also have a page on Breast Cysts, often a lack of iodine is to blame. It would be a good idea to start following your cycle again, and reducing as you are is best. Dropping from 600mg/day to nothing when you start bleeding will be too great. I do hope the pages I've given you help. Take care Wray

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