Chaste Tree Berries for Menopause
Chaste Tree, Vitex agnus-castus, is a shrub that is native to the Mediterranean . It produces berries that are thought to suppress the libido. Monks in the Middle Ages mixed the berries in their food to help them remain celibate. They called it “Monks Pepper”. The berries were also thought to suppress a woman’s libido and the flowers of the chaste tree were sprinkled along the ground when novitiates were taking their vows. That is why the herb is called Chaste Tree.
Chaste tree can influence a woman’s hormones and is useful for balancing hormone levels. In large amounts it causes loss of libido. In small amounts it can actually increase libido. It has been used for PMS, Polycystic ovary syndrome, and breast pain.
Chaste tree seems to have some uses for menopausal problems. Some research has been done and “emerging pharmacological evidence supports a role for V. agnus-castus for the alleviation of menopausal symptoms”. It works by causing the pituitary gland to produce more hormones. Chaste berry can be taken as a juice, a tincture, tablet, or elixir. Most women take it in tablet form.
Side effects include itching, nausea, headaches, or a rash. Some women may notice a change in menstrual flow when taking chaste berry. Do not take it if you are pregnant or nursing. This herb can effect hormone levels. Do not take it if you have a hormone sensitive condition or a hormone sensitive cancer. Chaste berry may interfere with treatment for Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia and other psychotic problems. Always consult your health care practitioner before starting an herbal regimen.
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Castleman, Michael, The New Healing Herbs, Rodale, 2009
Graeden, Joe & Graeden Teresa, The People’s Pharmacy, St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999