Chaste Tree is a medicinal plant that has been used for centuries for regulating menstrual cycles and reducing inflammation, especially in the reproductive system (1).
This small shrub (Vitex agnus-castus) is native to the Mediterranean and related to Lemon balm and Lemon Verbena grows well in arid zones with mild winters. Its slender violet flowers bloom in high summer, developing brown-black fruit the size of peppercorns following pollination. Used for their medicinal characteristics, it is for this reason that Chaste tree is often referred to as Chaste berry in herbal medicine formulas (2).
Hormone regulating actions
Known for its benefits in reducing pre-menstrual acne, fluid retention and breast tenderness, clinical trials confirm that Chaste tree works by targeting the hormonal imbalances responsible for causing these symptoms by normalising lower than normal progesterone levels and reducing normal to mildly elevated prolactin levels (1). It is this function that also supports the activity of Chaste tree as a cycle regulator used to combat menstrual disorders ranging from PMS to a complete absence of ovulation and menstruation (1).
Research suggests Chaste tree works by binding to dopamine receptors, thus leading to a reduction in hormone-related pain (e.g. in the breast and reproductive organs) without affecting the function of key ovulation hormones FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (Luteinising hormone) (1).
Clinical trial outcomes
Studied in a clinical setting, Chaste tree has been shown to reduce PMS symptoms of depression, anxiety, food cravings and fluid retention by 93% following three months of use (1, 3). This study investigated the symptoms of 1634 patients suffering from PMS symptoms, with 81% of women reporting a stark improvement in their quality of life following the 3 month treatment period (3).
Consult a trained herbalist for dosing and use
Chaste tree is a complex herb that relies on the patient taking the correct dose at the right time in order to see its indicated benefits. Some forms of infertility respond to Chaste tree very well, but dosing for all kinds of infertility should be done with caution and under the advice of a Naturopathic Practitioner trained in clinical Herbal Medicine. For the full benefits, Chaste Tree should be taken under practitioner supervision for between 3 and 9 months.