July 24, 2016

Chasteberry

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What other names is Vitex Agnus-castus known by?

Agni Casti, Agnocasto, Agnolyt, Agnus-Castus, Chaste Berry, Agneau du Moine, Agneau-chaste, Agni Casti, Agnocasto, Agnolyt, Agnus-Castus, Arbre au Poivre, Chaste Berry, Chaste Tree, Chaste Tree Berry, Chasteberry, Chastetree, Chinese Vitex, Gattilier, Hemp Tree, Herbe au Poivre, Mang Jing Zi, Monk's Pepper, Petit Poivre, Pimiento del Monje, Poivre de Moine, Poivre Sauvage, Vitex, Vitex Agnus Castus, Vitex rotundifolia, Vitex trifolia, Viticis Fructus.

What is Vitex Agnus-castus?

Vitex agnus-castus is the fruit of the chaste tree. The fruit and seed are used to make medicine.

Vitex agnus-castus is sometimes called "the women's herb." It is used for menstrual cycle irregularities, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a more severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and symptoms of menopause. It is also used for treating "lumpy" (fibrocystic) breasts, female infertility, preventing miscarriage in women with low levels of a hormone called progesterone, controlling bleeding and helping the body force out the placenta after childbirth, and increasing breast milk.

Some men use vitex agnus-castus for increasing the flow of urine, for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and for reducing sexual desire. Historians say that monks chewed chaste tree parts to make it easier to maintain their celibacy.

Vitex agnus-castus is also used for acne, nervousness, dementia, joint conditions, colds, upset stomach, spleen disorders, headaches, migraine, eye pain, body inflammation, and swelling.

Some people apply vitex agnus-castus to the skin to flush out parasites and to prevent insect bites and stings.

Is Vitex Agnus-castus effective?

There is some scientific evidence that chasteberry can reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), especially breast pain, bloating, depression, headache, and constipation. It may take up to three months of treatment before there is a noticeable improvement. Chasteberry may not be as effective for women who have the type of PMS that has food cravings, dizziness, sweating, and rapid heartbeat as its main symptoms.

There is also evidence that chasteberry might help improve acne after about six months of use.

Studies are beginning to show that chasteberry may help women who have trouble getting pregnant because they don't have enough of the hormone progesterone. But chasteberry doesn't work quickly. Women may need to be treated for up to 7 months.

There isn't enough information to know if chasteberry is effective for the other conditions people use it for, including: menopausal symptoms, prevention of miscarriage, enlarged prostate, and many others.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Taking vitex agnus-castus by mouth seems to decrease some symptoms of PMS, especially breast pain or tenderness (mastalgia), constipation, irritability, depressed mood or mood alterations, anger, and headache in some women. Vitex agnus-castus might not be effective for symptoms of bloating.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe form of PMS. Vitex agnus-castus is about as effective as the prescription drug fluoxetine (Prozac) for relieving symptoms of PMDD. However, vitex agnus-castus seems to be somewhat more effective for physical symptoms such as breast tenderness, swelling, cramps, and food cravings. Fluoxetine seems to be somewhat more effective for psychological symptoms such as depression, irritability, insomnia, nervous tension, and feeling out of control.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Difficulty in becoming pregnant (infertility). There is some evidence that taking vitex agnus-castus by mouth can help some women get pregnant. These women are infertile because they do not have enough of the hormone called progesterone. However, vitex agnus-castus does not seem to work quickly. It can take from 3-7 months of treatment to achieve pregnancy.
  • Repelling insects. Early research suggests that an extract made from vitex agnus-castus seed seems to repel ticks and fleas for 6 hours, mosquitoes for 3 to 8 hours, and biting flies for 3 hours, when applied to the skin.
  • Recurrent breast pain. Early research suggests that vitex agnus-castus alone or in a solution containing vitex agnus-castus plus 5 other herbs (Mastodynon, Bionorica AG) might relieve recurrent breast pain.
  • Menopausal symptoms.
  • Prevention of miscarriage.
  • Enlarged prostate.
  • Increasing lactation.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of vitex agnus-castus for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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