Native to the Mediterranean region, the chaste tree is a small shrub that bears violet flowers and very dark red berries which are similar to peppercorns in shape and flavor. The ripe berries are dried and used medicinally.
In medieval times, chasteberry was thought to suppress the libido of both females & males. Monks attempting adhere to their vows of celibacy once chewed the dried berries throughout the day in hopes of lowering their libido. Today, it’s clear that the herb does not affect sexual drive, but chasteberry does have an important role to play in supporting reproductive health. This herb is well known as a great regulator for women. Used over time it works to support healthy hormone levels, which goes such a long way to health and vitality!
Vitex contains no hormones itself, but instead influences healthy hormonal activity by stimulating the pituitary gland to produce more luteinizing hormone (LH),in turn, signals the ovaries to produce more of the hormone progesterone. Adequate progesterone levels are needed to regulate excessive estrogen in the body. Chasteberry also helps lower elevated levels of prolactin.
Vitex has been used traditionally in the following ways:
To Reduce PMS Symptoms. Chasteberry helps to normalize the ratio of progesterone to estrogen before menstruation which helps reduce symptoms of PMS.
Minimize fibrocystic breast symptoms. This herb’s ability to lower prolactin concentrations and restore the estrogen-progesterone balance offers relief from tender, swollen breast tissue that many women experience in the second phase of their menstrual cycles.
Promote fertility and regulate ovulation. Women with too much prolactin and not enough progesterone often don’t ovulate regularly, making it difficult to become pregnant. Chasteberry can help to lower prolactin levels and aid in the normal functioning of the ovaries, making conception more likely.
Support healthy menopause. Vitex works to stabalize declining hormone levels that sometimes occur in the years leading up to, and following, menopause which helps alleviate symptoms such as mild depression, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sweating. For these purposes it is sometimes combined with other herbs such as dong quai or black cohosh.
Vitex is also useful in relieving the pain of endometriosis.