Chasteberry: Vitex, Chaste Tree Berry and Monk's Pepper
Chasteberry (Vitex agnuscastus) is also known as vitex, chaste tree berry and monk's pepper. It was thought by monks to inhibit the libido, hence it's name. It was recommended by many physicians in ancient Greece, including Hippocrates, as a treatment for many female conditions. Chasteberry herb is useful in the management of fluid retention. It is also used to alleviate hot flushes, anxiety, depression and the symptoms of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome). Although it does not contain hormones, it does stimulate the production of female hormones. The main active ingredient in chasteberry is agnuside.
Chasteberry is used to:
Alleviate symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
Ease menopausal hot flushes.
Help alleviate anxiety and depression.
Increase breast milk production. Chasteberry is safe to use for this function, as it does not change the composition of breast milk.
Warning: Chasteberry affects hormone production. It should not, therefore, be taken by women taking hormonal medications. This includes contraceptive pills and oestrogen. If you are pregnant you should also refrain from using chasteberry supplements. Always consult your doctor before using any chasteberry supplement, especially if you are on prescribed medications.
What is Chasteberry?
Chasteberry is the fruit of the chaste tree, which is actually a small shrub. It has violet flower spikes, and long slender leaves. The chaste tree is native to the Mediterranean region. It can grow throughout the world, in subtropical climates. Its red berries are harvested in the autumn. They are then dried. They look like peppercorns. I have not tried them, but apparently they taste peppery.
What does Chasteberry do?
Stimulates the pituitary gland to signal the ovaries to produce more progesterone hormone.
Inhibits the over-production of prolactin (which regulates the production of breast milk).
Chasteberry has the following benefits:
Restores the natural oestrogen-progesterone balance.
Relieves PMS-related ailments such as bloating, depression and irritability.
Reduces breast pain and tenderness, by lowering the action of prolactin.
Regulates monthly ovulation, by rebalancing any prolactin-progesterone imbalance, thus helping women to become pregnant.
Helps restore a normal monthly cycle.
Helps regulate hot flushes in menopause.
Assists in managing acne associated with menstruation.
How much Chasteberry do you need to take?
As a tincture, for the treatment for menstrual disorders, amenorrhoea, PMS, breast tenderness or infertility, add ½ teaspoon to a glass of water, twice a day.
In tablet or capsule form this equates to 225mg, which should be taken twice a day for menopausal hot flushes, and to increase breast milk production.
How to take Chasteberry.
Chasteberry should be taken on an empty stomach. This will increase absorption. Always take the first dose in the morning. Some improvement in the symptoms of PMS should be seen within 10 days. The full effects, however, may take up to three months. For amenhorroea and infertility, this may lengthen to six months.
Chasteberry side effects.
Chasteberry has the following possible side effects:
Increased menstrual flow.
If you experience any rash you should stop using chasteberry supplements.
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