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Herb Information
Name: Chaste Berry
Biological Name: Vitex agnus-castus, Vitex rotundifolia, Vitex trifolia, Fructus viticis

Verbenaceae

Other Names: Chaste Berry, Vitex, Chasteberry, Monk's pepper, Cloister pepper, Agnus Castus, Man jing zi
Parts Used: The fruit
Active Compounds:
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Iridoid glycosides which include aucbin and agnoside

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Flavonoids including casticin, isovitexin and orientin

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Essential oil.

History: 

Chasteberry has been used since ancient times as a female remedy. One of its properties was to reduce sexual desire, and it is recorded that Roman wives whose husbands were abroad with the legions spread the aromatic leaves on their couches for this purpose. It became known as the chasteberry tree.

During the Middle Ages, Chasteberry's supposed effect on sexual desire led to it becoming a food spice at monasteries, where it was called "Monk's pepper" or "Cloister pepper."

In tradition, it was also known as an important European remedy for controlling and regulating the female reproductive system. Long used to regularize monthly periods and treat amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea, it also helped ease menopausal problems and aided the birth process.
Recent investigations show the presence of compounds which are able to adjust the production of female hormones. It is thought to contain a progesterone-like compound and is now thought to be useful in the following conditions: Amenorrhea, Dysmenorrhea, PMS, Endometriosis. A German study has found that extracts of this herb can stimulate the release of Leutenizing Hormone (LH) and inhibit the release of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). This herb was also found tobe useful as an aid in Premenstrual Tension. A work done in England has shown that 60 % of women who participated in a study reported reduction or elimination of PMS symptoms such as anxiety, nervous tension, insomnia, or mood changes. The herb was also found to help with the premenstrual water retention.

Remedies For

Diaphoretic, antipyretic, regulatory, Uterine Tonic

Useful for the treatment of:

Fibrocystic Breast Disease
Infertility (Female)
Menopause
Menorrhagia (Heavy Menstruation)
Menstrual Difficulties (Secondary Amenorrhea)
Premenstrual Syndrome

Chasteberry has the effect of stimulating and normalizing pituitary gland functions, especially its progesterone function. It may be called an amphoteric remedy, as it can produce apparently opposite effects though in truth it is simply normalizing. It will usually enable what is appropriate to occur. The greatest use of Chasteberry lies in normalizing the activity of female sex hormones and it is thus indicated for dysmenorrhoea, premenstrual stress and other disorders related to hormone function. Beneficial during menopausal changes. May be used to aid the body to regain a natural balance after the use of the birth control pill.

Vitex helps restore a normal estrogen-to-progesterone balance. It can not only ease but, with time, actually cure premenstrual syndrome, which has been linked to abnormally high levels of estrogen, especially if symptoms tend to disappear when menstruation begins. Vitex can also help with irregular menstruation (especially if accompanied by endometriosis). Vitex also helps resolve hormonally-related constipation. Vitex may help cure fibroid cysts that occur in the smooth muscle tissue. 

Vitex may also help reduce some of the undesirable symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes associated with the reduction in the production of progesterone. Vitex can stabilize the cycle after withdrawal from progesterone birth control pills. 

Several studies indicate that vitex can help control acne in teenagers, young women and men.

For women who are trying to get pregnant, vitex may be helpful to help regulate the ovulatory cycle. It may be taken throughout the end of the third month of pregnancy, which may help prevent miscarriage, according to German research. After the third month it is still safe to take but is not recommended, because it may bring on the flow of milk too early.

Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Relieves wind heat, clears heat from the liver channel. The Chinese variety is particularly useful for headache, dizziness, eye pain, and muscular aches and pains. The Western variety has a somewhat different usage-as a female hormonal regulator.

Description: 

Vitex grows in the Mediterranean countries and Central Asia. The dried fruit, which has a pepper- like aroma and flavor, is used.

Dosage:

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l teaspoonful of the ripe berries and leave to infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: take 1 ml of the tincture three times a day.

Clinical research shows that vitex may start working to treat imbalances after about 10 days, but for full benefit it should be taken up to 6 months or longer. With PMS, a positive result may be felt by the second menstruation, but permanent improvement may take up to a year or longer.

Safety:

Vitex should be used with caution by those who are weak or anemic.

Side effects of using vitex are rare. Minor gastrointestinal upset and a mild skin rash with itching have been reported in less than 2% of the women monitored while taking vitex. Vitex is not recommended for use during pregnancy

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