Chastenberry as a supreme hormonal tonic for women. Both extensive clinical studies, as well as over two thousand years of use in folk medicine, have proven the effectiveness of this remedy. It works by stimulating and normalizing the pituitary gland, which regulates the balance of estrogen and progesterone in the body.
In a normal menstrual cycle estrogen is higher before ovulation and progesterone is higher after. Many women don’t realize that an imbalance of these hormones can lead to the entire range of symptoms associated with PMS and menopause! Chastenberry usually has the effect of enhancing progesterone and decreasing estrogen levels.
Chastenberry itself has none of the hormonal building blocks that many of the medicinal plants used for the reproductive system contain. Instead, this herb nourishes and supports the endocrine system to find its own balance.
Almost all of symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle can be treated with this plant. It is the single best herb for treating the many possible symptoms of PMS: cramps, flooding, headaches, depression, water retention, constipation, acne, breast tenderness, and irritability. It can help normalize irregular or scanty periods.
A study by the Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology, University of Basel, Schonbeinstrasse Basel, Switzerland. Suggests that extracts of chasteberry fruits are described to have beneficial effects on disorders related to hyperprolactinemia (cycle disorders, premenstrual syndrome). A chaste berry extract has recently been shown to exhibit antitumor activities in different human cancer cell lines. In the present study, we explored the antiproliferative effects of a chaste berry extract with a particular focus on apoptosis-inducing and potential cytotoxic effects. Our data suggest that chaste berry contains components that inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis in human prostate epithelial cell lines. The extract may be useful for the prevention and/or treatment not only of benign prostatic hyperplasia but also of human prostate cancer.
Chasteberry is the fruit of the chaste tree, a small shrub-like tree native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean region. Today we know Chasteberry by several names: chaste-tree berry, vitex, monk’s pepper. Vitex agnus-castus is the latin name.
What the Science Says
- Several studies over the past few years have indicated that extracts from chasteberry help with symptoms of PMS. In a recent study done in Germany, 86 patients with PMS were treated daily with one tablet (20 mg chasteberry extract) during three menstrual cycles. At the end of the study, many PMS-related symptoms were significantly reduced by treatment with chasteberry in the majority of the participants. No serious adverse effects were reported. The researchers say, “Extract of chaste berry is an effective and well tolerated treatment for the relief of symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome.”
- A few studies of chasteberry for erectile dysfunction have found a benefit. However, most of these studies were small. Larger studies are being planned.
- Small studies suggest that chasteberry may help with breast pain and some types of infertility.
- NCCAM has funded studies on chasteberry. Projects have explored how chasteberry works in the body and how it might affect symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and erectile dysfunction.
Side Effects and Cautions
- Chasteberry has not been associated with serious side effects. However, it can cause gastrointestinal problems if to much is taken.
- 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 certain antipsychotic drugs and Parkinson’s disease medications, should avoid using chasteberry.
- Tell all your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.