Chaste tree or monk pepper, scientifically named Vitex agnus-castus, is a plant from the Verbenaceae family. It is a shrub that can reach 1.5 to 2 m in height. It can be recognized by its spike-shaped leaves and its bluish or purplish flowers giving off a peppery smell. Native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean basin, this shrub grows in humid regions. It is propagated by seed in spring and autumn. Its ripe berries are picked in autumn. The writings relate that monks chewed its berries to moderate the libido. Monk pepper berries contain essential oil (cineol), flavonoids (casticin) and iridoids (aucubin, agnoside, eurostoside).
What are its main effects on the body?
The WHO recognizes monk pepper for its influence on hormonal and menstrual irregularities.
- Hormone regulator : this acts mainly on the regulation of the production of female hormones. This is explained by its stimulation of progestin activity.
- Menstrual disorders : the herbalist can recommend the plant to treat the various disorders associated with premenstrual syndrome, absent or irregular periods. In case of premenstrual syndrome, administration for several months may be necessary to remove the painful swelling of the breast. Finally, it regulates the menstrual cycle. Indeed, its active ingredients allow it to shorten long cycles and lengthen short cycles.
- Sterility : Infertility caused by insufficient progesterone levels can be remedied by following a treatment based on this plant.
- Difficult rise of milk : the berries of the monk pepper present an alternative to increase the secretion of milk.
In what form can chasteberry be used in herbal medicine?
Herbal medicine uses its berries, fresh or dried, and its flowering tops. However, there are now various extracts on the market (tablets, liquid extracts, solid extracts, mother tincture).
How to use it to take advantage of its therapeutic benefits?
- In case of irregular periods, take tablets or 30 to 40 drops of diluted tincture, every morning upon waking for a minimum of 2 months. Warning ! herbal medicine contraindicates the use of extract of this berry in case of heavy periods.
- PMS can be remedied with the same dosage as irregular periods.
- In case of decreased estrogen and progesterone production, take the extract as a tablet, or 2 to 40 drops of mother tincture diluted in water each morning before breakfast.
What precaution should be known before using chasteberry?
The disruption of menstrual cycle is a delicate medical case. Indeed, it may result from a latent pathology. Thus, self-medication could treat the disease; in the worst case, it could make the person’s health worse.
What are the contraindications?
Pregnant women should under no circumstances take the bay of monks in all its forms. People who follow a treatment based on antidopaminergics or anovulants and hormone replacement therapy should not consume the plant either.