Agnus-castus, chaste berry
Parts used and where grown: Vitex grows in the Mediterranean countries and Central Asia. The dried fruit, which has a pepper-like aroma and flavor, is used.
In what conditions might vitex be supportive?
¥ fibrocystic breast disease
¥menorrhagia (heavy menstruation)
¥menstrual difficulties (secondary amenorrhea)
Historical or traditional use: Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Theophrastus mention the use of vitex for a wide variety of conditions, including hemorrhage following childbirth, and also to assist with the 'passing of afterbirth.' Decoctions of the fruit and plant were also used in sitz baths for diseases of the uterus. In addition, vitex was believed to suppress libido and inspire chastity, which explains one of its common names, chaste tree.
Active constituents: The whole fruit extract, which contains several different components, is thought to be medicinally active.
2 The ability to decrease excessive prolactin levels may benefit infertile women.
How much should I take? Many people take 40 drops (in a glass of water) of the concentrated liquid herbal extract in the morning. Vitex is also available in powdered form in tablets and capsules, again to be taken in the morning.
With its emphasis on long-term balancing of a woman's hormonal system, vitex is not a fast-acting herb. For premenstrual syndrome or frequent or heavy periods, vitex can be used continuously for four to six months. Women with amenorrhea and infertility can remain on vitex for twelve to eighteen months, unless pregnancy occurs during treatment.
Are there any side effects or interactions? 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.
1. Monograph Agni casti fructus
(Chaste tree fruits). Bundesanzeiger, May 15, 1985 (no. 90), Dec 2,
1992 (no. 226).
2. Sliutz G, Speiser P, et al. Agnus castus extracts inhibit prolactin secretion of rat pituitary cells. Horm Metab Res 1993; 25:253-5. *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Disclaimer: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.