Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus)
What is it?
Vitex or Chaste Tree Berry is a shrub that is native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. The shrub has long, finger-shaped leaves, blue-violet flowers, and dark purple berries. The fruit and seed are used to make medicine.
Why do I like it?
Vitex or Chaste Tree Berry is one of my favorite herbs for balancing a woman’s menstrual cycle. Vitex works to support a woman’s menstrual cycle by promoting communication between the brain and the ovaries. It helps the ovaries produce healthy levels of estrogen and progesterone.
Vitex can be used for menstrual cycle irregularities. It helps your body resume a normal menstrual cycle after stopping birth control pills. Which can be helpful for women trying to conceive. It can be helpful with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and reduce pain associated with “lumpy” (fibrocystic) breasts.
For men, Vitex can be taken by mouth to increase the flow of urine, for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and for reducing sexual desire. Historians say that monks chewed chaste tree to maintain their celibacy. It does not seem to have the same effect on women.
How to use it?
Chasteberry or Vitex is available as a liquid extract, capsules, tablets, and essential oil. It can be taken as a capsule but is best consumed in its tincture form. Although the taste is strong, the result is powerful.
What do we know about its safety?
As with many herbal supplements, there are limited studies.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) a leader in research on herbal medicine, reports that few preliminary studies have found chasteberry may improve some symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and menstrual irregularities but the evidence isn’t firm. Researchers have studied chasteberry for breast pain and infertility, but more reliable scientific studies need to be done. It does appear to be safe and generally well tolerated, with few reported side effects. It may be effective for several conditions affecting a women’s reproductive health.
*Women on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, or who have a hormone-sensitive condition (such as breast cancer) should not use chasteberry.
*People taking dopamine-related medications, such as certain antipsychotic drugs and Parkinson’s disease medications should avoid using chasteberry.