Chasteberry (Vitex Agnus-cactus)
The Chasteberry (vitex) tree is native to southern Europe, the Mediterranean and Western Asia. Chaste trees have blue or lavender flowers. The fruits of the tree are small, pea-sized berries that smell and taste like pepper. Once the leaves fall off the tree, the Chasteberries are collected, dried, and ground.
Throughout the millennia, Chasteberries have been used to treat an assortment of menstrual and reproductive symptoms. As its name implies, Chasteberries are reputed to restrain the sexual desire of both men and women. This effect is due to a repression of libido acting in the higher centers of the brain. It specifically targets the hypothalamic-pituitary pathway and thus alters the distribution of hormones by the gland. The benefits of Chasteberries are due to its action on the pituitary gland and the production of luteinizing hormone (LH), one of the steroid hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
The active ingredients in Chasteberries are believed to reside in its aromatic oils. They contain iridoid glycosides or monoterpenes. These compounds include agnusides, eurostoid, and aucubin, progesterone-like substances.
It has been reported that extracts of Chasteberries stimulate the release of luteinizing hormone and inhibit the release of follicle stimulating hormone by the pituitary.
The German Commission E suggests a daily dose of 30 mg to 40 mg of Chasteberries. Chasteberry is used to treat PMS.