The benefits of chaste tree berry for gynecological disorders have been documented since the days of Hippocrates.
The chaste tree is a shrub that was originally a native of the Mediterranean. Now it is cultivated in many areas of the world.
Typically the dried berries are used medicinally and are made into tablets, capsules, tinctures and liquids. The berries have a spicy flavor and can be used like pepper. But the leaves also have medicinal properties and can be used as a tea.
Vitex Agnus Castus can grow up to 16 ft tall depending on the region. It has very pretty flowers (white, purple or blue) that bloom in late summer.
You can grow this pretty shrub and make your own Chaste Tree Berry remedies.
Other Names for Chaste Tree Berry are Vitex (Agnus Castus), Chasteberry and Monk's Pepper.
(We will use any of the names in this article.)
Chaste tree berry stabilizes your hormone levels, especially the progesterone level. It is often recommended for women during perimenopause to balance the fluctuation in progesterone and estrogen levels.
It is widely prescribed in Germany for women with PMS symptoms but many herbalists and gynecologist also recommend it for menopause symptoms, especially during perimenopause. It is also beneficial for depression during this time.
Studies in Germany with a standardized extract have proven the following benefits of Chasteberry:
As perimenopause has many of the same symptoms as PMS (because of the fluctuating hormone levels), it is a great herb during this time.
During perimenopause many women have very heavy periods which vitex can stabilize. (If you have daughters with very irregular cycles, Vitex can be very helpful).
Store the tonic in a dark bottle in a cool, dark place. It will last for a long time.
Women who are stopping birth control pills when they begin the menopause transition (usually in their 40s) can especially benefit from Vitex because is helps the body to find its own hormone balance much quicker.
Taking chasteberry shortly before bedtime may increase early morning melatonin secretion and improve sleep. (Melatonin is responsible for the regulation of the sleep cycle).
Chaste tree berry is slow acting and it can take up to 3 months for the full effects to be felt.
The herb does not actually contain plant hormones (except some trace amounts in the leaves and flowers) but supports the endocrine system to find its own balance.
Very likely, the effects of chaste tree berry can't be contributed to a single substance but are due to the interaction of many biological components.
Chaste tree berry affects the brain's pituitary gland. It normalizes the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) and so increases progesterone over estrogen levels.
During pre menopause many of the symptoms are due to estrogen dominance because of elevated FSH levels.
FSH stimulates the release of estrogen by the ovaries to prepare an egg for fertilization. As it becomes more and more difficult for the ovaries to do this, more and more FSH is released in an effort to promote pregnancy. This high amount of estrogen in relation to progesterone causes your symptoms during peri-menopause.
Chasteberry can lower the prolactin level which is the reason for the breast tenderness and pain that many women experience during perimenopause.
The effect on the libido due to lower testosterone levels are also due to elevated prolactin levels.
The dosages depend on the preparation and concentration. Follow the recommendation of the manufacturer or herbalist if you buy supplements. Dosage recommendations can vary widely due to the various concentrations of vitex in the product.
As with most herbs, it is recommended to take a break of one or two days every 10 days to maximize the effectiveness of herbs. Start with a low dose and increase it gradually over a week to get the body used to the herbal activity.
Most herbalists prefer the Chaste Tree Berry Tincture. For the tincture, the recommended dose is 35 to 45 drops, up to three times a day.
Side effects of vitex preparations are rare.
Some women report skin rashes or skin itching. Gastro intestinal problem can occur as well. Both side effects are linked to higher doses.
To avoid these problems, start with a lower dose and work your way up to the full dose when you know how your body will react. Keep in mind that Vitex can take up to 3 months to be fully effective.
Women with diseases that can be influenced by hormones, like some breast cancer or certain brain tumors should not use Chaste Tree Berry without the ok by their doctor.
Women who are nursing should not use Chaste Tree Berry because it suppresses the hormone prolactin. As with most herbs, it is not recommended for women who are pregnant, although no evidence of risks have been reported.
While no interactions with other drugs are reported, animal experiments indicate the possibility of interference with dopamine-receptor antagonists. Check with your pharmacist if you take any drugs for neurological diseases if they fall into this group.
As always be safe and check with your health care provider before you start taking any supplements.
Vitex is an herb that has been used since ancient times for female gynecological problems. It is especially beneficial for women with PMS symptoms but some indications exist that women in perimenopause benefit from chaste tree berry (vitex) as well.
Effectiveness of chaste tree berry for post menopausal women or those in the last stages of their menopausal transition is questionable. Other herbs, such as Ashwagandha and Black Cohosh Root might be a better choice for women in the later stages of menopause.
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