Chasteberry is a shrub that is native to the Mediterranean region and some parts of Asia. This plant is grown for ornamental purposes, as they produce upright clusters of aromatic flowers. The flowers develop brownish berries that resemble peppercorns. It is the berries of this plant, that are highly valued as herbal medicine. Fully ripe berries are used for therapeutic purposes, both in fresh and dried form. Nowadays, you may find this herb being sold in the form of liquid or solid extracts, tinctures, capsules, tablets, etc. It has been noted that chasteberry is commonly used as herbal tea.
Chasteberry (also known as Vitex agnus-castus) is a herb that is otherwise known as vitex, chaste tree, and monk's pepper. Earlier, it was believed that consumption of this herb is beneficial for reducing sexual desire, and for remaining chaste. It is said that the wives of ancient Romans used to spread parts of this herb on their bed, when their husbands were away. Even the monks of the medieval ages used these berries for this purpose, and hence the name, monk's pepper. Even though there are conflicting theories about the effect of chasteberry on libido, it is said to be highly effective in treating a wide range of gynecological problems. In fact, this herb is also referred to as the women's herb.
- According to recent studies, chasteberry contains several flavonoids and alkaloids, that jointly act to balance the level of female hormones. This prevents problems associated with hormonal imbalance in women.
- Chasteberry is claimed to be highly effective in countering the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and other menstrual problems, like breast pain, heavy bleeding, irregular or absent menstrual cycles, menstrual pain, and cramps.
- This herbal tea is also used for treating endometriosis, menopausal symptoms, and fibrocystic breasts. It is claimed that chasteberry tea is effective for boosting fertility and lactation. Some people use it as a herbal remedy for recurrent yeast infections.
- Chasteberry is used to treat acne, migraine headaches, anxiety, depression, and stomach upset. It is believed that topical application of chasteberry is beneficial for warding off insects and other parasites.
- This herb is used for treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, and prostate problems. It is said to be effective in preventing miscarriage. Chasteberry is also used for reducing the frequency of epileptic seizures.
While some recent studies indicate that drinking chasteberry tea may be effective for treating conditions associated with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, etc., there is no evidence to prove most of the other so-called benefits of this herb. Even though chasteberry is considered safe, make sure to use this herb according to the instructions of a qualified herbal practitioner. You have to stick to the prescribed dosage and other usage instructions. The possible side effects are stomach upset, other gastrointestinal problems, skin rash, dizziness, weight gain, and insomnia. As this herb can affect the hormone levels in women, it is better for pregnant and lactating women not to use it. Those who are using birth control pills, and those with hormone-related conditions (like breast and uterine cancer), must also avoid this herb.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.