Chaste berry, also know as Vitex agnus-castus, is native to Southern Europe and Western Asia where it is commonly found growing along sunny waterways. It was introduced to the United States in the 1800's. Chaste berry trees have blue or lavender flowers, which are sometimes used to make perfume with a citrus-like aroma. The fruits of the chaste berry tree are small, about the size of a small pea, and they have a pepper-like taste and smell. After the leaves fall off in the autumn, the chaste berries are collected, dried, and ground for use in medicine.
Chaste berry is made of substances including flavonoids, iridoid glycosides, and terpenoids. All of these constituents, found in the chaste berry fruit, are believed to be necessary for this herb to have any medicinal effect. The reported benefits of chaste berry stem from its actions upon the pituitary gland and the production of a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH) that helps regulate the menstrual cycle in women. Chaste berry also assists in the regulation of prolactin secretion in the body. The ability to decrease mildly elevated prolactin levels may benefit some infertile women as well as some women with breast tenderness associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
The results from several studies suggest that women taking vitex (chaste berry) extract each day for 3 menstrual cycles may experience a reduction in the symptoms associated with PMS, including cramping, headaches, and tenderness of the breasts.Dosage and Administration
Chaste berry or vitex is available as fresh and dried berries, capsules containing powdered chaste tree berries, and liquid preparations such as extracts and tinctures.
The German Commission E suggests a daily dose of 30 mg to 40 mg of dried chaste tree berries, but recommended doses vary widely according to the condition being treated and the product being used. If you decide to use chaste tree berries, follow the directions on the package that you purchase. Supporting LiteratureBlumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 108.