Chasteberry for Chastity?

Chasteberry is the fruit of the chaste tree, a small shrub-like tree native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean region. The name is thought to come from a belief that the plant promoted chastity–it is reported that monks in the Middle Ages used chasteberry to decrease sexual desire.

Common Names:

  1. chasteberry
  2. chaste-tree berry
  3. vitex
  4. monk’s pepper

The chaste berry tree is found growing on riverbanks and nearby foothills around the Mediterranean. With a dark brown, peppercorn-size fruit, it has a pleasant peppermint like odor.

What Is Chasteberry Used For?

The medicinal parts of the chaste tree are the ripe dried fruit (the chasteberry) and the dried leaves. The use of chasteberry is approved by the Commission E for use in treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal complaints.

  • Chasteberry has been used for thousands of years, mostly by women to ease menstrual problems and to stimulate the production of breast milk. chasteberry does so by helping the body increase its own natural levels of progesterone.
  • Chasteberry is still used for menstrual problems, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as well as for symptoms of menopause, some types of infertility, and acne. In Europe, chasteberry is a standard treatment for premenstrual syndrome.

How Chasteberry Is Used

The dried ripe chasteberry is used to prepare liquid extracts or solid extracts that are put into capsules and tablets.

Folk Medicine Uses

Chaste Tree preparations are a widely used European treatment for all types of PMS symptoms and menstrual irregularities, especially breast tenderness. This herb is sedative and relieves muscle spasms, so women experience significant improvements in irritability, depression and headache.

Chasteberry has also been used for insufficient milk production and mastodynia. It is also used to control libido, increase milk flow, reduce flatulence, suppress appetite, and induce sleep. Additional uses include the treatment of impotency, prostatitis, swelling of the testes, sexual neurasthenia, sterility, amenorrhea, uterine pain, and swelling of the ovaries.

Chaste Tree is also used to induce menstruation.

What Science Says?

A few studies of chasteberry fruit for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) have found a benefit. However, most of these studies were not well designed, so firm conclusions about chasteberry for PMS have not yet been scientifically drawn.

Small studies suggest that chasteberry may help with breast pain and some types of infertility. Scientific studies seek additional evidence to support and determine the effect chasteberry has on these conditions.

Side Effects and Cautions

  • Chasteberry has not been associated with serious side effects. However, it can cause gastrointestinal problems, acne-like rashes, and dizziness. When first trying chasteberry, start with small doses and build up slowly to allow your body to become accustomed to its benefits gradually.
  • Chasteberry may affect certain hormone levels. Women who are pregnant or taking birth control pills or who have a hormone-sensitive condition (such as breast cancer) should not use chasteberry.
  • Because chasteberry may affect the dopamine system in the brain, people taking dopamine-related medications, such as selegiline, amantadine, and levodopa, should avoid chasteberry.

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