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Chaste Tree Berry - Vitex agnus-castus

Chasteberry has long been used to treat premenstrual syndrome and other symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, including breast tenderness and mood swings.

Scientifically shown to promote hormonal balance, assisting women through all the changes of life. Chaste berry has been used for centuries to treat constipation, flatulence, and hangovers, and to bring on menstruation and lactation. In modern herbal medicine, the herb is mainly used to treat breast swelling and breast pain caused by excessive secretion of the hormone prolactin during PMS or cyclic mastalgia. The herb can lengthen the proliferative (first) phase of the menstrual cycle, and also relieve water weight, headache, and fatigue.

The berries of the chaste tree act on the body’s master hormone controllers, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, to increase production of the luteinizing hormone (LH) while inhibiting the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This shifts the ratio of estrogen to Progesterone in favor of progesterone which is significant for PMS sufferers as well as women who are perimenopausal, since the majority of symptoms are caused by a deficiency of progesterone relative to estrogen during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Just how effective is chaste tree? A European study involving 1,634 women suffering from PMS found that 93% reported a decrease in the number of symptoms or even a cessation of PMS complaints after 3 months of taking chaste tree.

Chastetree fruit is a popular female tonic once mentioned in the writings of the "father of medicine" himself, Hippocrates. Today, the much sought after herb is recognized for its gentle, hormone-balancing properties, which supports female reproductive health, as well as eases mild mood changes, water retention (bloating) and other unpleasant PMS symptoms.

The leaves and tender stem growth of the upper 10 cm (4 inches), along with the flowers and ripening seeds, are harvested for medicinal purposes. The berries are harvested by gently rubbing the berries loose from the stem. The leaves, flowers, and/or berries may be consumed as a decoction, traditional tincture, cider vinegar tincture, syrup, elixir, or simply eaten straight off the plant as a medicinal food. A popular way of taking Vitex is on awakening as a simple 1:1 fluid extract, which is said to interact with hormonal circadian rhythms most effectively.

Several studies have confirmed its efficacy. In one such study, women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe form of PMS, responded equally well to treatment with the prescription antidepressant Zoloft and treatment with the Vitex extract. In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study of premenstrual breast tenderness, Vitex proved significantly better than placebo at controlling discomfort. Vitex is well tolerated by a vast majority of patients and effectively controls mood swings and breast tenderness.

A deciduous shrub of free spreading habit, young shoots covered with a fine grey down; leaves opposite, composed of five to seven radiating leaflets borne on a main stalk 1 to 2 1/2 inches long, leaflets linear, lance-shaped, toothed, dark green above, grey beneath with a very close felt; stalks of leaflets 1/4 inch or less long- flowers fragrant, produced in September or October, in whorls on slender racemes 3 to 6 inches long, sometimes branched; the berries somewhat like peppercorns, dark purple, halfcovered by their sage-green calyces, yellowish within, hard, having an aromatic odour; taste warm, peculiar. The seeds were once held in repute for securing chastity, and the Athenian matrons in the sacred rites of Ceres used to string their couches with the leaves.

Men shouldn't take chaste berry. Testicular atrophy could result after repeated use. Not recommended during pregnancy. Binging on sugar, alcohol, or marijuana will block the herb's action on dopamine receptors in the brain and cancel out its effects. Not
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.