Smart Drugs,

#157: Vitex with Matt Legge

December 02, 2016

Ever heard of monksberry?  Legend has it that monks would take these little berries to suppress their libido.  Turns out it actually enhances libido, so who knows what extracurricular activities those monks were up to.

Monksberry is more commonly known as vitex (scientific name:  Vitex agnus-castus) and has a host of more work-appropriate benefits.

Matthew Legge, head of innovation for ATP Science (and a past Smart Drug Smarts interviewee in Episode #118 on Turmeric) talks with Jesse about why you might want to add vitex to your stack.

Nootropic Benefits of Vitex

Vitex is a powerful dopamine promoter.  This translates into increased confidence, energy, alertness, and mood.

So, take vitex when you want to feel good, feel awake, and get sh*t done.  The best part is that, in addition to interacting with postsynaptic receptors, it also interacts with presynaptic receptors, stopping excessive levels of activity.  That’s why it won’t ever cause a craze or frenzy.

Other Benefits of Vitex

The non-nootropic benefits of vitex are a funny mixture.  It reduces premenstrual symptoms in women (things like cramps, tender breasts, and depression).  It also treats man-boobs (or “moobs,” if you will).  It does this by inhibiting prolactin — which is associated with breast tenderness and swelling — via the promotion of dopamine.

Vitex also increases protein synthesis, with effects similar to anabolic steroids.  But, it’s the leaves, not the berries that provide this benefit.

Taking Vitex

Vitex works at a relatively low dose:  1,000 – 2,000mg.  In fact, some minor negative side effects may become apparent at even 2,000mg — generally just nausea, a side effect of too much dopamine.

Vitex is always taken as an extract, either ethanolic or water based, from the berries of the plant.  Legge recommends ethanolic extracts, as that is what the research uses.

Legge can’t recommend specific brands, since ATP Science makes their own extract for their Alpha Venus supplement.

The best way to enjoy the benefits of vitex is to cycle it.  When you first start supplementing with it, you’ll feel the dopaminergic effects quickly — it’s fast acting.  But after about 6 weeks, you’ll start becoming desensitized to the effects.  Luckily, it only takes about 3 days of abstaining for the tolerance to dissipate.

So the recommendation is to take small doses of vitex for relatively short periods of time (“short blasts”) and then give your body at least a quick break from it.


Although generally very safe, because it’s dopaminergic, don’t take vitex with other dopaminergic medication.  That means no L-dopa, and definitely no antipsychotic medication.  Taken together you risk an addictive effect.

Other than that, there’s not much to worry about.  You can combine it with most other supplements and it’s even safe to take with depressants like alcohol.

PS:  Get a drug-free mood boost with our weekly Brain Breakfast!

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