Vitex – Chasteberry

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vitex = Agnus castus
Vitex – Agnus castus – flower spires

Botanical: Agnus castus
Family: Verbenaceae
parts used: fruit, (ripe berries harvested late autumn)
energetics: moist
actions: nervine, cephalic, dysmenorrhea, emmenagogue
used for: premenstrual syndrome, abnormal menstrual cycle, amenorrhea, painful periods, menopause
common names: Agnus Castus, Nirgundi, Sambhalu, Monk’s Berry, Monk’s pepper, cloister pepper, cloister berry, Indrani, Nochi, Vitex, Vitex agnus castus, Sage Tree

The ripe seeds of the Chaste Berry have become a mainstay in modern herbalism, used to address a wide-range of conditions related to hormones. We had a Vitex bush for a few years before we realized its worth. It is a beautiful shrub with purple flowers and often called “Texas Lilac”. Now we grow four large shrubs.

It is native to Mediterranean countries, and its uses were first developed in ancient Greece and Rome and
were only slowly developed after the fall of these two empires. Most of its early uses were related to its spicy, warming nature in “dispelling wind”, although there are early references to its use in “inflammation of the womb”, and as an herb to “quench the passions”.

Uses for Vitex (Chaste Berry)

Culinary

The seeds can be ground into a peppery condiment. (why it is sometimes called Monk’s pepper)

Cosmetic

I found it used as an ingredient in mascara on http://www.ulta.com. But as for a traditional use cosmetically, there’s not much.

Using Vitex for Wellness

No single constituent has been identified as accounting for vitex’s biological activity. The volatile components of the fruits of two varieties of Vitex agnus-castus L. (Verbenaceae) were obtained by hydrodistillation and identified by GC and GC-MS. Altogether 41 components were identified. The examined oils show a significant antibacterial activity.[3]

Vitex is a slow-acting herb. It is usually recommended to allow three full cycles for the plant to really work its magic, and many women take it for up to several years. In the thousands of years that it has been in use, there are no reports of even the mildest side effects. Vitex is a safe, gentle, and effective remedy, with something to offer women in every cycle of life.

Extract of the seeds of the plant Vitex agnus castus proven to be highly efficacious as a repellent against ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and biting flies.[4]

vitex - Agnus Castus
one of the vitex shrubs at OurHerbFarm

Dose

  • Dried Berries: 500 – 3000mg
  • Dried Berry Tea: 1 tsp in 1 cup twice daily
  • Tincture: 1.0 – 2.5mL (1:2)

Safety

  • Should be avoided by women taking oral contraceptive, during pregnancy and, because of the inhibitory effect on prolactin secretion, during lactation (reduces/interferes with milk supply). Small doses however may increase lactation.[5]
  • In the case of lactation, theoretical and expert opinion conflict as to whether chaste tree increases or decreases lactation.

References:

  • Blumenthal, M., et al., eds. S. Klein, trans. German Commission E Therapeutic Monographs on Medicinal Herbs for Human Use.
    Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998.
  • Jessica Godino – Red Moon Herbs
  • Chemical composition and antibacterial activity of essential oil from fruits of Vitex agnus-castus L. (Verbenaceae) growing in Turkey
    F. Senatore, F. Napolitano, and M. Ozcan Dung
    Journal of Essential Oil Bearing Plants Vol. 6 , Iss. 3,2003
  • Mehlhorn, H., Schmahl, G. & Schmidt, J. Parasitol Res (2005) 95: 363. doi:10.1007/s00436-004-1297-z
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3841997/
  • Chaste Berry: Snapshot | Socratic Life. Retrieved September 18, 2014, from https://socraticlife.com.au/2014/06/09/chaste-berry/