Vitex Agnus-Castus, also known by the name of Chaste Tree, Vitex, Abraham’s Balm, Monk’s Pepper, or Chasteberry, represents the fruit of a species of Vitex that grows in the temperate-zone and is native to Mediterranean areas. Its flowers, leaves, and berries can be taken as traditional tincture, decoction, syrup, cider vinegar tincture, elixir, or just eaten directly from the plant for its medicinal purposes. The majority of the people that se this supplement do so by means of a one-to-one ratio fluid extract which is believed to interact with the hormonal circadian rhythms in an effective way. Sometimes referred to as the “women herb,” its core benefits focus on treating symptoms related to women’s soft periods or other issues regarding their bodies. However, men also may use it for certain ailments or bodily problems.
Since Ancient times, people have known that among the supplement’s main properties is the reduction of sexual desires and there are some recorded files which reveal that the wives of Roman men who were abroad used to spread the leaves of the chasteberry tree on their couches for this purpose.
Furthermore, this effect upon the sexual desires determined the utilization of this herb in the food spices field, particularly in monasteries; this is why it is also given the name of “Monk’s pepper.”
Agnus-Castus Functions & Benefits
In traditional times, this herb represented a reliable European remedy when it came to regulation and control of the female reproductive functions. Because of this, it was utilized for regularizing monthly periods or to treat conditions such as dysmenorrhea or amenorrhea. Moreover, some women took it in order to ease menopausal issues or to aid birth processes. Even Dioscorides, Theoprastus, and Hippocrates mention its benefits for a wide array of medical conditions like assist with “passing of afterbirth” and hemorrhage that follows childbirth.
Because of the herbal history in Germany as well as other parts of Europe, agnus-castus still maintains popularity. Actually, it is one of the few commonly-used herbs for menstrual and hormonal relief, and it is also viewed as one of the best when it comes to ailments like endometriosis and fibroid cystitis that affects the uterus.
Unfortunately, so far it hasn’t been specifically investigated for its therapeutic impact on individuals. However, some studies have pointed out the presence of certain compounds that are capable of adjusting production of womanly hormones. For examples, extracts of this herb may help stimulate release of Leutenizing Hormone or LH and inhibit release of FSH or Follicle Stimulating Hormone. Moreover, it can help in the regulation of prolactin production which is beneficial for females that are infertile and usually have excessive prolactin in their bodies.
Other conditions for which this plant can prove beneficial include regulation of menstrual cycle irregularities, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, premenstrual syndrome, prevention of miscarriage, increase in breast milk production, and in treatment of “lumpy” breasts which are fibrocystitic in nature.
There was a study conducted in London which revealed that 60% of a group made up by women showed elimination or reduction of PMS symptoms including nervous tension, insomnia, anxiety, and mood changes. The women who participated in this study took it in form of dried capsules. Furthermore, in 1979 there was another study which showed good results when it comes to water retention during premenstrual stages. In addition, women were able to keep a proper milk production level in order to continue breast feeding. Even though it took a while for this ingredient to show some type of improvement, the majority of the participants could continue the treatment for long-periods without any type of harmful side-effect.
Although it is mostly taken by women, men may take advantage of the qualities possessed by this herb as well. For instance, some men used it for increase in the urine flow, treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia or reduction of sexual desires since it can have a similar impact on their bodies too. Some historians wrote that monks used to chew chaste tree parts in order to ease their desires, thus maintaining their celibacy.
On a more particular note which hasn’t been scientifically tested, nor historically accredited, but only pointed out by some people who have tried it, agnus-castus can also help with dementia, nervousness, upset stomach, eye pain, swelling, body inflammations, spleen disorders, joint conditions, or colds. There are even some that apply it directly to the skin because it should flush out parasites and prevent stings and bites from insects.
Despite the fact that it is viewed as safe for most individuals, there are certain uncommon side-effects like nausea, itching, headaches, weight gain, sleeping troubles, and upset stomach that may appear during its utilization, particularly if the daily recommended amount has been exceeded during the treatment. Furthermore, some women reported a change in the menstrual flow at the beginning and during the usage.
Because this plan can interfere with some hormones, it is viewed as possibly unsafe for pregnant or lactating women, which leads to the same warning for most of the nutritional companies that manufacture products featuring this ingredient regarding its avoidance in the two stated situations.
Additionally, those suffering from hormonal sensitivity conditions like uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or uterine, ovarian, or breast cancers should think twice before taking agnus-castus supplementation because it usually affects hormones; thus, estrogen levels will be out of balance. People undergoing in-vitro fertilization are among those who are advised not to use this supplement.
As a traditional African plant, little is truly known about agnus-castus, although in regard to the plant itself, it presents increasing potential for areas like nutritional improvement, faster rural development, boosting of food security, or support of sustainable land maintenance.
Therefore, it is usually found either in raw form or processed by some nutritional companies which have started using it for its benefic qualities and sell it either in capsule or cream form for both adult and child usage with a focus on women since it has a bigger impact on regulating female hormones. It is important to carefully read the labels and make sure the quantity of this ingredient is within the normal dosage in order to avoid developing potential side-effects.