On writing: some nice news

Not career making, but nice all the same to find out a short story I wrote about a pig in a schoolyard made the Mslexia short story competition shortlist of fifty.

a little happy dance
a little happy dance

It’s given me a boost and I have reworked the opening chapters of my newly named novel ‘The replacement wife’ and posted them on Authonomy. There is a link at the top of the page if you are interested. Now all I’ve got to do is get up the guts to send it out again.


Agnus Castus: News about dosage and where to get 20mg tablets

agnus castus flowerFirst off, the good news. I spoke to Peter from Prime Health Direct this week as a number of women had ordered the 20mg tablets (including me) but not received the order. He apologised for the delay and then explained they had sold out (I think this blog might have something to do with that), but he assured me the new stock was almost ready (bar the packaging) and he would be fulfilling the back orders next week. HURRAY!!

Secondly, I finally received a reply from Holland Barrett, explaining their new dosage and why despite a reduction in amount of herb per tablet the price remained the same (posted in full below). Make of it what you will – however, the assertion that they never sold it a higher dosage is clearly nonsense as illustrated by this comment I received today.

“Thank you for this info. I was taking old stock high strength Agnus Castus capsules (1 per day) from Holland and Barrett about a year ago and felt my PMS improve, but then I couldn’t buy them anymore. I struggled to take 4 capsules a day with their new stock and felt rubbish only taking 2, and now I know why!” EM

Dear Juliet,
Thank you for your enquiry relating to your concerns over the new THR licensed H&B Agnus Castus product. I am sorry for the length of time it has taken to obtain answers to your questions and am grateful for your patience.

Some agnus castus product used in research studies have used a 20mg strength agnus castus formulation. The new THR licensed H&B Agnus Castus product will provide a 3.9mg strength agnus catsus extract. This is a highly concentrated extract which in fact equates to 24.4 – 31.2mg of agnus castus fruit and so will be in line with the amount of agnus castus used in research studies and the level based on traditional use.

In regards to issues of a comparison to a product that we used to sell that contained a 20mg strength extract I am unsure which product are referring to. Holland and Barrett have never sold a 20mg strength agnus catus extract and the current Good and Natural products contain agnus castus in a standard strength whole herb form and not an extract. Any price comparison is therefore dubious coupled with the fact the new THR licensed H&B Agnus Castus product has not been released for sale yet and will not be so until July this year. If making a price comparison between the current Good and Natural product (which provides agnus castus in a standard strength, whole herb form and not in an extract form) and the new THR licensed H&B Agnus Castus product, the new product will indeed be more expensive. This is due to increased manufacturing costs and quality testing for the new THR licensed products and also due to the cost associated with gaining a THR license for a herb.

Finally, the new product will have the following information stated on the packaging in regards to the indication for the product as follows:-

…to help relieve symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome such as irritability, mood swings, breast tenderness, bloating and menstrual cramps. This is based on traditional use only.

The dose used is consistent with traditional use and would be therefore be expected to provide good benefits for many customers. This effect would be comparable to the Good and Natural product which contains agnus castus in different form to the new H&B product, i.e. in a standard strength, whole herb form rather than in an extract and so there would not be expected to a significant change in the management of symptoms. This is a key difference which must be accounted for when comparing the two products.

Please do not hesitate to contact me again if you have any further questions.

Kind regards,

Alexander Thompson, BSc (Hons)

Customer Services Team
NBTY Europe
The home of Holland & Barrett, GNC, Nature’s Way and De Tuinen.

On writing: Will I ever become a writer?

Borrowing the title from Dorothea Brande’s 1934 novel that speaks with such clarity nearly 80 years on, I wonder if I will ever become a writer or always be becoming?

Unlike most things I have done in my adult life there isn’t a syllabus or a set of instructions to follow. I can’t mind-map my way to publication. Up until now, I have assumed that if I put in enough hard work and commitment I will be successful – it’s worked before.

But then I have never (seriously) tried to become a writer until now.

And never have I felt so vulnerable, so useless and so wretched.

Most days, I am preoccupied with worry that I have reached my ceiling, that there is no more capacity to improve. At times I am floored by my arrogance in believing that 1) I have anything worth saying, and 2) anyone would want to read it.

And yet I can’t stop doing it – like the rebound singer on a reality show, returning year on year, provoking a pity cheer and embarrassed applause.

I don’t want to be here, feeling like this. But I have been cursed by a malicious imp, sniggering over my words, while whispering accolades in my ear.

Will I ever become a writer?

I don’t know. But I do know, I will only have failed if I give up becoming.

How do you keep going,when it gets tough? What makes you want to write?

Agnus castus saved my marriage!! Seriously!

PMT cartoon shedAt times I have wondered if there is any point keep blogging about Agnus Castus. Whatever I do makes little difference to what is on sale in the UK.

I can sadly envisage a future where women will have completely forgotten that there was once a safe and side-effect free cure for PMT that was effective for over 80% of women in trials (and didn’t involve artificial hormones, mind altering drugs or surgery), but what good can my lone voice really do?

And then I get a comment like the one below and every word I have ever typed about agnus castus and the decimation of the herbal market in Europe suddenly feels like it matters again, and that just maybe I can make a difference, even if it is one woman at a time.

Thank you Vicki for making me feel less like a crazy, ranting bint 🙂


My case is one of severe PMS (PMDD). My situation was so bad that I had moved out of my marital home due to me being such a complete bitch for no reason to my hubby… he had enough (fairly!) of me turning on him for no particular reason (over 3 years plus),,, Once separated I went to the doctor as I noticed my flare ups were around the week before my period… investigated further and realised I had PMS if not PMDD… went to the doctor and was prescribed fluoxetine – which did help, yet the Progesterone only pills also prescribed made me worse (Couldn’t take combined pill due to age and family history of DVT). After reading your blog investigated Agnus Castus further… working at a Doctor’s surgery I spoke to Health Practitioners who also read the British Medical Journal report I printed, to ask their advice. I went ahead and ordered Agnus Castus and have now taken it for nearly 2 months… in this time the change has been amazing. I have been ‘pushed’ on many occasions where I would have flared before… however I haven’t. I feel calm and like a new woman… for the first time in years I feel happy… can’t believe that people have just accepted I have a temper and that’s me!!! IT’S NOT AT ALL!! Agnus Castus has given us our marriage back, I am now moving back to our marital home, and we are so happy…. thank you for your blog… you have helped so much I cannot thank you enough!!

Vicki Daniels

Has this blog helped you? Where did you find out about agnus castus?