Chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus)
- Vitex agnus-castus is the fruit of the chaste tree. The fruit and seed are used to make medicine.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – *Vitex agnus-castus is sometimes called “the women’s herb.” It is used for menstrual cycle irregularities, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a more severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and symptoms of menopause. It is also used for treating “lumpy” (fibrocystic) breasts, female infertility, preventing miscarriage in women with low levels of a hormone called progesterone, controlling bleeding and helping the body force out the placenta after childbirth, and increasing breast milk. Taking vitex agnus-castus by mouth seems to decrease some symptoms of PMS, especially breast pain or tenderness, constipation, irritability, depressed mood or mood alterations, anger, and headache in some women. Vitex agnus-castus might not be effective for symptoms of bloating.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe form of PMS. Vitex agnus-castus is about as effective as the prescription drug fluoxetine (Prozac) for relieving symptoms of PMDD. However, vitex agnus-castus seems to be somewhat more effective for physical symptoms such as breast tenderness, swelling, cramps, and food cravings. Fluoxetine seems to be somewhat more effective for psychological symptoms such as depression, irritability, insomnia, nervous tension, and feeling out of control.
- Some men use vitex agnus-castus for increasing the flow of urine, for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and for reducing sexual desire. Historians say that monks chewed chaste tree parts to make it easier to maintain their celibacy.
- Vitex agnus-castus is also used for acne, nervousness, dementia, joint conditions, colds, upset stomach, spleen disorders, headaches, migraine, eye pain, body inflammation, and swelling.
- Some people apply vitex agnus-castus to the skin to flush out parasites and to prevent insect bites and stings.
- Vitex agnus-castus seems to affect many hormones that regulate women’s reproductive cycles.
- Vitex agnus-castus fruit is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth appropriately. Uncommon side effects include upset stomach, nausea, itching, rash, headaches, acne, trouble sleeping, and weight gain. Some women notice a change in menstrual flow when they start taking vitex agnus-castus. Vitex-agnus-castus seed extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin appropriately.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding – Using vitex agnus-castus during pregnancy or breast-feeding is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. The concern is that vitex agnus-castus can interfere with hormones. Don’t use vitex agnus-castus if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- Hormone-sensitive condition such as endometriosis; uterine fibroids; or cancer of the breast, uterus, or ovaries – Vitex agnus-castus can affect hormones and might affect estrogen levels. Don’t use vitex agnus-castus if you have a hormone-sensitive condition.
- In vitro fertilization – Vitex agnus-castus can interfere with the effectiveness of in vitro fertilization. Don’t use vitex agnus-castus if you are undergoing this procedure.
- Parkinson’s disease – Vitex agnus-castus contains chemicals that affect the brain. These chemicals affect the brain similarly to some medications used for Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, vitex agnus-castus might affect therapy for Parkinson’s disease.
- Schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders – Vitex agnus-castus seems to affect a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Some medications for mental disorders help to decrease dopamine. Therefore, taking vitex agnus-castus might affect therapy for certain mental disorders.
Moderate Interaction – Be cautious with the following combinations:
- Birth control pills and Vitex Agnus-Castus
- Estrogen and Vitex Agnus-Castus
- Antipsychotic drugs and Vitex Agnus-Castus
Agneau du Moine, Agneau-chaste, Agni Casti, Agnocasto, Agnolyt, Agnus-Castus, Arbre au Poivre, Chaste Berry, Chaste Tree, Chaste Tree Berry, Chasteberry, Chastetree, Chinese Vitex, Gattilier, Hemp Tree, Herbe au Poivre, Mang Jing Zi, Monk’s Pepper, Petit Poivre, Pimiento del Monje, Poivre de Moine, Poivre Sauvage, Vitex, Vitex Agnus Castus, Vitex rotundifolia, Vitex trifolia, Viticis Fructus.
- Source: WebMD, “VITEX AGNUS – CASTUS”, web article, www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-968-chasteberry.aspx?activeingredientid=968&activeingredientname=chasteberry