Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)
Other common names: Chasteberry, chaste tree, monk’s pepper, Abraham’s balm, hemp tree, agnocasto
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Family: Lamiaceae (formerly classified under Verbenaceae)
Actions: Female reproductive tonic, hormone balancer (esp. female), analgesic (mild), galactagogue, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, can be aphrodisiac or anaphrodisiac depending on the person, insect repellent.
Harvest: Berries are harvested in autumn.
Part used: Berries
Constituents: Terpenoids, bitters, volatile oils, iridoid glycosides, alkaloids, castine, monoterpenes, flavonoids, neolignans and others.
Used to treat hormone imbalance, PMS, hormonal breast lumps, female infertility, prevent future miscarriage (do not use for this purpose without the clearance of a doctor, and stop use upon becoming pregnant), migraines, headaches, urinary retention, anxiety, acne, dementia, swelling, benign prostatic hyperplasia, hormonal depression, and menopause symptoms. It boosts dopamine and progesterone and decreases prolactin. It has also been used by some midwives to promote the flow of breast milk. As always, use caution and consult with a professional medical provider before using any herb (especially one altering hormones) during pregnancy or nursing.
Vitex can be taken in capsule form, tea decoction or tincture for several months to restore hormone balance.
Vitex berries, extract, diluted essential or infused oil or decocted tea can be applied to the skin, where it has been used to clear acne, treat insect bites, repel pests and kill parasites, among other uses.
Vitex may interact with dopamine antagonists, psychiatric medications, metoclopramide, birth control pills, and other estrogen drugs such as premarin, and other HRT meds. Do not use if pregnant or nursing without a doctor’s guidance. It can reduce testosterone, and therefore diminish male sex drive. Do not use if attempting in vitro fertilization, or if you have uterine cysts, or a history of estrogen-sensitive cancer (it is not carcinogenic, however it does alter estrogen levels and therefore can be a concern in these conditions). Rarely, it can cause weight gain, rash, stomach upset or an allergic reaction. Stop taking two weeks prior to undergoing surgery.
I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.
It is believed that the goddess Hera was born and nursed underneath a vitex tree. Monks have been given the herb to keep them from having lustful thoughts. Energetically it is highly affiliated with the female sex, bringing out the feminine power in both men and women who connect with the plant. It is used in goddess rites and fertility blessings and helps practitioners of both genders in introspective meditations.
Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.