Chaste tree berry
Vitex agnus castus

Chaste tree berry - Vitex agnus castus (in the Verbenaceae or Verbena family)

Parts used: Fruits.

Taste/smell: Pungent.

Tendencies: Drying.

Dosage: Infusion: 1 teaspoon of crushed fruits per cup of water; or 1:3 dry liquid extract: 20-75 drops 1-4 times per day.

Use: (a) Female reproductive tract regulator. It is used for PMS, endometriosis, menstrual cramps, premenstrual herpes, premenstrual acne, polymenorrhea, secondary amenorrhea, PMS, menopause with hot flashes.

Chaste tree appears to increase luteinizing hormone production and inhibit the release of follicle stimulating hormone. This shifts the ratio of estrogens to progestagens in favor of the progestagens with a corpus luteum hormone effect. This progestagen effect is used in some cases to prevent miscarriages.

Prolactin is inhibited by chaste tree. The luteinizing hormone release and progesterone synthesis has been attributed to inhibition of prolactin activity. It appears to directly bind to dopamine receptors in the anterior pituitary and inhibits prolactin synthesis and release, according to animal research. It is thought to be useful in all ailments due to hyperprolactinemia and luteal phase defect.

For amenorrhea, the herb must be used for months before results are noticed.

Contraindications: Although used sometimes for prevention of miscarriages, it is generally contraindicated in pregnancy due to its emmenagogue effect. It may counteract the effectiveness of birth control pills, and other hormone therapy.

Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.