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Chaste Tree

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Vitex agnuscastus L. Family: Verbenaceae

COMMON NAME(S):Chaste tree, chasteberry, monk's pepper

Chaste tree is a large shrub (up to twenty-two feet tall) native to the Mediterranean and southern Europe. Although it flourishes on moist riverbanks, it is easily grown as an ornamental plant in American gardens, where its attractive blue-violet flowers are appreciated in midsummer.

History

The dried, ripe fruit is used in traditional medicine. The plant has been recognized since antiquity and described in works by Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Theophrastus. In Homer's epic, The Iliad, the plant was featured as a "symbol of chastity, capable of warding off evil. Early physicians recognized its effect on the female reproductive system, suggesting its use in controlling hemorrhages and expelling the placenta after birth. The English name"chaste tree" derives from the belief that the plant reduces unwanted libido. Monks have chewed its parts to decrease sexual desire. At least one report is available discussing the chaste tree's use in ancient medicine to the present .

Botany :- The chaste tree is a shrub that grows in moist river banks in southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. It can grow to 660 cm in height nnd blooms in summer, developing light purple flowers and palm-shaped leaves. The dark brown-to-black fruits are the size of a peppercorn. Collected in autumn, the fruits have a pepperish aroma and flavor .

Uses of Chaste Tree

Chaste tree has been used by women to balance progesterone and estrogen production and regulate menstruation. It has been used for breast pain, ovarian insufficiency, uterine bleeding, and to increase breast milk production.

Chaste-tree berries have also been used to treat flatulence, hangovers, fevers, constipation and uterine cramps.

Side Effects of Chaste Tree

Minor side effects include GI reactions, itching, rash, headaches, increased menstrual flow.

Dosage

Fruit powder-sugar/water or honey paste, decoction; powder, tincture, decoction, poultice

Many people take 40 drops (in a glass of water) of the concentrated liquid herbal extract in the morning.

Vitex is also available in powdered form in tablets and capsules, again to be taken in the morning.

With its emphasis on long-term balancing of a woman's hormonal system, vitex is not a fast-acting herb. For premenstrual syndrome or frequent or heavy periods, vitex can be used continuously for four to six months. Women with amenorrhea and infertility can remain on vitex for twelve to eighteen months, unless pregnancy occurs during treatment.

Toxicology
Chaste tree administration has not been associated with significant adverse events. In one large German market surveillance study,17 of 1542 women discontinued treatment because of an adverse event. Minor side effects include GI reactions, allergic reactions (eg, itching, rash), headaches, and menstrual flow increase. The safety of the plant has not been determined in children.

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