The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Medicinal Herb Monographs

Chaste Berry

Botanical Name 
Vitex Agnus Castus

Vitex

Vitex Agnus castus
(Chaste Tree)

The information on this page compiled by
Beth Burch N.D.
Index
(click on the keywords)

Introduction

Chaste Tree has a long history of use-first mentioned in the writings of Hippocrates in the 4th century BC. It derives both its common and botanical name from the belief that it would suppress libido. King’s American Dispensatory reports it a a galactagogue and emmenagogue, also for impotence. Weiss’ recommends it for menstrual disorders due to corpus luteum insufficiency.

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Description

  • Chaste Tree is a member of the Verbena family, native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. It is a shrub with finger-shaped leaves and slender violet flowers. It blooms in the summer and develops a dark brown or black berry the size of a pepper corn. The fruit has a spicy pepper like aroma and taste. The dried ripe fruits are used medicinally. Chaste Tree can be found in the US as a landscape plant.
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Constituents

  • Volatile oils
  • Iridoid glycosides, including agnoside and aucubin
  • Flavonoids, including castican and isovitexin
  • Fatty oils
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Action/Effects

  • Modulates progesterone levels by increasing luteinizing hormone and decreasing follicle stimulating hormone in the pituitary gland
  • Modulates prolactin secretion from the pituitary gland
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Conditions used for

  • Premenstrual syndrome (1,2)
  • Premenstrual breast tenderness (3)
  • Infertility due to anovulation (4,5)
  • Menstrual problems including hypermenorrhea, polymenorrhea, anovulatory bleeding, secondary amenorrhea (6)
  • Hyperprolactinemia (7,8)
  • Poor lactation (9)
  • May be helpful for hot flashes, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts and endometriosis
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Dosage

Liquid alcohol extract- 40 drops (~ 1/4 tsp) daily in the morning
Dry-
Slow acting- For PMS you should see some changes in 1-2 months, with maximum relief of symptoms in 4-6 months, for infertility may need 5-7 months or longer, for secondary amenorrhea may need 18 months of treatment.

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Side Effects

Has few side effects- 1-2% of patients in studies.
Main side effects are nausea, increased menstrual flow, diarrhea, acne, skin rash

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Contraindications

Pregnancy -if used for infertility treatment, discontinue use as soon as pregnancy is confirmed

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Interactions with medications

Do not use with dopamine-receptor antagonist medications like haloperidol
Do not use with oral contraceptives

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Use in pregnancy & lactation

Contraindicated in pregnancy due to hormonal effects
Used in lactation to increase milk production

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References

1. Dittmar FW et al, Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and its treatment, TW Gynakol 1992;5(1):60-68
2. Coeugniet E et al, Arztezeitchr Naturheilverf 1986;27(9):619-22
3. Halaska M et al, Treatment of cyclical mastodynia using an extract of vitex agnus castus: results of a double-blind comparison with a placebo, Ceska Gynekol 1998;63(5):388-92
4. Veal L, Complementary therapy and infertility: an Icelandic perspective, Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 1998;4(1):3-6
5. Propping D et al, Treatment of corpus luteum insufficiency, Zeits Allgemeinmedizin 1987;63:932-3
6. Losh EG et al, Diagnosis and treatment of dyshormonal menstrual periods in the general practice, Gynakol Praxis 1990;14(3):489-95
7. Milewicz A et al, Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinemia. Results of a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study, Arzneimittelforschung 1993;43(7):752-6
8. Sliutz G et al, Agnus castus extracts inhibit prolactin secretion of rat pituitary cells, Horm Metab Res 1993;25(5):253-5
9. Mohr H, Clinical Investigations of means to increase lactation, Dtsch Med Wschr 1954;79(41): 1513-6


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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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