About

Prime Health Agnus CastusBlogging about…

Agnus Castus, changing career in mid-forties, education, psychology, family, books and writing.FenceSitter

 

If you want to contact me, then email: julietocallaghan@gmail.com

27 thoughts on “About”

  1. I was a manager of a Holland and Barrett store when the dosage for Agnus Castus changed. As a user of the herb myself, I bought all the old stock at the old dose, the dose that works and as such when I need it, I take the old recommended dose of 1600mg daily. I made absolutely sure all customers new about the change to the dosage of Agnus Castus. I understand that with some unlicensed herbs there is a danger of heavy metal toxicity and dishonest sellers adding pharmaceutical medicines. This is in no way a good enough excuse for the ‘authorities’ to decide on what natural medicines we can or can not use. This erosion of choice will have a serious impact for the next generation. The goal of all this is to create a complementary health free world, free of herbalists and homeopaths and all natural practitioners to be ruled and dominated by the Pharmaceutical drug lords. Sounds like fantasy- it is happening now. In the next 10-20 years, we’ll either need to learn the old ways and grow our own herbs or forget they existed entirely.

    1. Maeve, thanks so much for stopping by. I truly believe there is a concerted effort by big Pharma to make herbal and other non-patented remedies ineffective. I also agree that this knowledge will be lost to future generations, which is why I blog about it and hope my small efforts will help. I am going to repost your comment as a blog post so more women can see it. Can I ask if you still work for H&B and if not did you leave because of the lack of integrity? For example what was H&B policy when the registration changes came in – was it to be transparent and inform customers or keep it quiet and hope they don’t notice? Did H&B try and fight these restrictions and campaign on behalf of the customer or accept them without a fight? Also are you able to explain the dosage in a way that is easy to understand. 1600mg is equivalent to what in terms of standardised extract?

  2. Hello Juliet,

    Thank you for your reply above.
    I am a Homeopath and I’ve studied both Nutrition and Herbalism, not to degree level yet but I have some understanding. have included a useful article below regarding the difference between standardized and whole herb. Personally, I prefer to take the whole herb every time. From my training (not from H&B) I believe it to be impossible to accurately compare and contrast a whole herb with a standardized extract because it is fundamentally different as the article below will explain much better than I can.
    I joined H&B hoping they were an ethical company, I needed to take a couple of years out of my practice to pay for my Daughter at University. I left a year later believing deeply disillusioned and disappointed. I know there to be a lot of good people in H&B but there is a constant tug of war going on and unfortunately, the sales force is stronger than the integrity force. H&B are not investors in people. Having said that. It is still possible to find good products in an H&B along with lovely, knowledgeable staff if you know what your looking for.

    I can honestly say that they never sent through a training update or any info on the new doses, there was never any explanation, this has most likely left staff floundering, forcing them to tell customers that they are equivalent to the same levels as the whole herb. But that is like saying that taking one aspirin is equivalent to 1000mg of willow bark extract- it’s not true and impossible to say because it depends on to many different factors such as the soil and climate that the herb was grown in and because Aspirin is one constituent of willow bark. The whole is always better than the part. Sadly, pharmaceutical companies can not move away from their reductionist roots, even when it and their medicines are so obviously only a fraction of a healing system that works. They want to own and control all of it.

    I really hope this has helped. 🙂

    By Amy Kosowski, M.S., LDN 
    The mainstream use of herbal medicines is becoming increasingly popular, and there are many herbal products to choose from.  With so many choices, it is easy to get confused about which forms of herbs are right for you.  One important decision is whether to use whole herbs or standardized herbal extracts.  This can be tricky, because even the experts are split on this issue.  Therefore, it is best to know the facts about the difference between the two so that you can make an informed decision. 
     
    A whole herb is just what it says: the whole herb, usually dried and encapsulated or processed and preserved in alcohol or another solvent.  Whole herbs contain all of the constituents of the plant and have been used for hundreds of years by many cultures.  In fact, modern medicine originated with the use of whole herbs.  The medicinal properties of herbs have been learned through empirical observation and the information has been passed down through successive generations of healers.  Although the effects of herbs have not always been formally and scientifically researched, whole herbs have a long track record validating their safety and efficacy. 
     
    The chemical makeup of an herb can vary slightly, however, depending on a variety of factors.  First, the environment in which the plant has been grown has an effect on the constituents of the herb.  The time of year it is harvested, the soil in which it is grown, and the weather all influence the overall quality of the final product.  Second, methodology plays a role.  For example, the age of the plant at harvest, the exact part of the plant being used, and processing techniques can all make a difference.  Finally, each plant or population of plants has its own individual genetics, thus adding another source of end-product variation.
     
    A standardized herbal extract is an herb extract that has one or more components present in a specific, guaranteed amount, usually expressed as a percentage.  The intention behind the standardization of herbs is to guarantee that the consumer is getting a product in which the chemistry is consistent from batch to batch.  This practice has developed out of the drug model of herbal medicine, in which modern scientists have attempted to identify the components of a plant that have definite pharmacological activity in the body.  Unfortunately, while scientists can isolate many constituents from an herb and discover how particular chemicals may act in the body, they inadvertently remove or overlook components that may contribute to the activity of the whole herb.  Consequently, standardization may concentrate one constituent at the expense of other potentially important ones, while changing the natural balance of the herb’s components.
     
    Standardization, therefore, is based on the idea that isolated compounds are responsible for the action of an herb.  Almost no medicinal herbs, however, are known for just a single function.  In fact, plants contain a complex blend of phytochemicals, and as naturally concentrated foods have the unique ability to address a multiplicity of problems simultaneously.  The full medicinal value of herbs is most likely due to their internal complexity and to the interactions of the different components within the body rather than to one of its specific components.  Furthermore, many of the constituents within an herb are as yet unknown, and internal chemical interactions within and among herbs are even more poorly understood.  Therefore, it is doubtful that this type of standardized herbal extract can exhibit the same full spectrum of use as the whole herb.  However, science has proven the efficacy of some of these concentrated extracts regarding specific biological actions, so they can be very useful even if they don’t work exactly like the whole herbs.
     
    A second form of standardization uses key components only as markers of identity while trying to maintain the same full spectrum of components as the whole herb. These standardized extracts are not necessarily more concentrated than the whole herbs, but they do maintain a minimum potency of these markers. The markers may or may not be active constituents of the plant, but a spectrum analysis of this kind of extract should be visually similar to that of the whole herb, assuring that no major component has been removed in the extraction process. This process guarantees that the herbs will have a minimum level of potency every time without sacrificing any components.

  3. Hi Maeve, I am really shocked that H&B staff were not told about the changes to dosage of active ingredients in herbal medicines. In the case of Agnus Castus this reduction means the tablets are a 1/5 of the strength they used to be. How downright underhand. Did they really believe the customer wouldn’t notice? I am utterly disgusted at the big herbal companies like H&B, Boots, Healthspan etc who have basically lied to their customers or at the very least misled them. I remember when I asked a sales assistance in Boots about the change of dosage, she said tablets were exactly the same, just rebranded. It makes sense now – it seems Boots like H&B didn’t inform their sales assistants and were arrogant enough to think the customer wouldn’t notice either. If they think that little of the value of herbal medicines then the only reason they can be selling them is for profit. I am seriously considering growing my own agnus castus bush and learning how to harness the active ingredient.

  4. That’s a very good and wise idea, it’s certainly what I will be doing. ‘Their’ plan is to ‘standardise’ all herbs, weakening the empirical dose, in so doing they will ultimately change the end effect, perhaps it will be an improvement but perhaps it will not. Herb users are going to have to learn the old and safe ways of using safe, medicinal herbs if they don’t want to be a captive consumer audience 🙂
    p.s: I love your blog- keep at it!!

  5. Thanks for the support Maeve. I am going to repost our conversation as a blog post so more women read it and can be informed about herbal companies response to the changes. I have looked into growing AC and it should be fine in the UK climate – I will let you know how it goes.

  6. Hope you don’t mind me commenting …as a 44 year old lady facing increasingly debilitating pre- menopausal symptoms , I was desperate to find help.My GP offered anti-antidepressants , which I was not keen on . I have read with interest everyone’s comments on Agnus castus .I have ordered some from Prime Health , and quite frankly cant wait for them to turn up so I can see if they will offer any relief . In hope ……:O)

    1. Hi Louise, certainly the research suggests that Agnus Castus is at least effective as antidepressants (with none of the side effects). I do hope you find relief and please come back and let us know how you get on.

  7. Wow ….Im so glad to have stumbled upon this blog. Ive been diagnosed with pcos and is sort of making conception hard. Been through a couple of miscarriages…
    I have read alot about Agnus Castus for balancing hormones as pcos is all about inbalance of hormones.
    Well, I walked into holland and Barrett 3 weeks ago to get some from their selves since they are a herbal shop. I combed through about 4 different shops different locations and they were out of stock which i thought was strange!!!
    I will not be surprised this blog is contributing to the stocks off the shelves. Hope they are going to have a rethin on them.
    I asked sells assistant reasons they didnt have and no one seems to know but one Assistant actually recommended starflower oil capsules to me and i am trying those.
    But with what i have read from you Juliet, I will go ahead and purchase from Prime Health and try.
    Thank you very much for such knowledgeable writings.
    God Bless you

  8. In case it has escaped notice Holland and Barrett are now owned by a pharmaceutical company, as are companies like Nature’s Best and no doubt others. So they already have the means to ensure the slow reductions in potencies of natural medicines, and of course to reduce people’s access to them – buyer beware!
    Book an appointment with a qualified Medical Herbalist.

    1. Hi again Andrew. Holland and Barrett are owned by Nature’s Bounty (NBTY), who were acquired by a private equity group (info from NBTY) website. They claim they manufacture and distribute nutritional supplements. I can’t see any evidence they are a ‘pharmaceutical company’. However, I do know Holland and Barrett reduced the dosage in line with Traditional Herbal Registration to only 4mg per tablet, which makes them ineffective unless you are prepared to take 5 a day.

  9. Hi Juliet. I have been taking Agnus Castus tablets for years and can’t say enough about them – they regulated my periods (I have polycystic ovaries) and helped me fall pregnant with my son 7 years ago and I’m currently taking them to combat PMS symptoms. I purchased them from Holland & Barrett until recently when my symptoms came back with a vengance. I went into H&B and took the old dosage bottle and the new one in to ask why they were different. I got a vague explanation about the dosage being changed and was offered lots of alternatives. I couldn’t believe that they were charging the same amount for a fifth of the dose. Anyway, I came home and researched where I could get the tablets are the strength I had been used to taking (400mg from H&B) and came across your blog and it all started t0 make sense. I’ve order the tablets from Prime Health and I do feel better but not as good as before. Should I give it a month to see if this dosage works and if not double the dose? Claire

    1. So pleased you found relief and so understand your annoyance at Holland and Barrett. As for doubling dose, trials indicate between 20mg-40mg, so you may find that more effective. Thanks for posting.

      1. Thanks Juliet. I’ll diuble the dose if I feel one tablet isn’t enough. Thanks for creating this valuable site 😊 x

  10. Hi Juliet…I stumbled across your page whilst researching alternatives to reducing my prolactin….In February I was diagnosed with High levels of Prolactin. In the last year I began experiencing trouble with my periods, up until then I was regular like clockwork every month. I am under the care of an endocrinologist who tried me with Cabergoline,, to which h my side effects were unbearable. I have done research that states that Agnus Castus is valuable in lowering Prolactin levels…If so have you come across any research that reinforces this and also what dosage is suggested. thankx

  11. Hello julietocallaghan thank you for your blog, I’m one of the H&B customers…. Been duped into just taking one tablet a day 4mg I’m in desperate need to help with my pmt… So can you tell me a website I can get the accurate measure of Agnus cactus please
    Thank you nicco

  12. Hi Juliet
    LOVE your blog. I have suffered from severe PMS all my adult life. I have been on anti-depressants since my daughter (now 7) was 6 months old. I have tried twice to come off the anti depressants and my PMS was so bad both times (me feeling suicidal and being a nasty bitch to my husband and family) I reluctantly went back on them. I heard about Agnus Castus about 20 years ago but never thought to try it, thinking it wouldn’t work for me as my symptoms (wanting to five my car into a brick wall) were so severe.
    Anyway, while waiting for a delivery from Prime Health I have started taking the tablets from H&B (5 a day). I have also purchased the A Vogel drops and a Tincture from Indigo Herbs.
    I don’t understand the strength though and wonder if you or any of your readers will understand this. A.Vogel is 1:10 extraction and Indigo herbs is 1:3 extraction. A.Vogel has the THR logo and Indigo Herbs doesn’t. I assume Indigo is the stronger?
    Anyway, I will see how I get on with it all. I am going to give it 2 months then come off my anti-depressants. Fingers crossed. I am so pleased i came across your blog. Thank you so much.
    Catherine.

    1. below is what A Vogel said about their dosage when I asked them in 2014:

      20 drops of A.Vogel Agnus castus tincture contains 54.2mg of dried fruit, or 542mg of extract (which is the fruit once it’s been macerated in a water/alcohol mix and extracted). So if you take a daily dose of 40 drops you get 108mg of dried fruit or 1,084mg of extract.

      We make our own tinctures, so we can answer any queries as to the process, should they arise.

      On the packaging of the licensed product (which hasn’t come out yet – licence came through last week), the SPC of which I attach, the strength is given as 895mg of extract in 33 drops, which is just a ratio of the figure for 20 or 40 drops. The MHRA make us put it this way because they require the strength to be equivalent to the amount in 1ml, and for our Agnus castus tincture this is 33 drops.

      The way I read it, the recommended dosage (above) gives around 100mg of AC. Research suggests 200mg is the effective amount, however that was for tablets not tincture. Certainly reviews on the site (last time I looked) suggested it was effective. I also found them very helpful in answering questions. I hope that helps.

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