Treatments - Chaste Tree Berry
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What is Chaste Tree Berry?

Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus) is a shrub of the Mediterranean region, this natural herb has been used for years as a treatment for hormonal imbalances. Women have found it helpful for menstrual irregularities and PMS symptoms.

There are many common names of the shrub, such as Abraham's Balm, Chaste Lamb-Tree, Safe Tree, and Monk's Pepper-Tree. It has also been called Indian-Spice, and Wild-Pepper, referring to the use of the fruits as a pepper substitute.

Chaste Tree Berry is native to West Asia and southwestern Europe. It was known in English gardens as early a 1570, and now occurs throughout the European continent. Introduced to America by European immigrants in the early nineteenth century, the shrub has become naturalized in much of the Southeastern United States. Chaste tree is a shrub growing from nine to seventeen feet tall.

What are the Uses of Chaste Tree Berry?
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS). Chaste Tree Berry is a natural flavonoid that has a progesterone like effect. It is also effective in altering the neurotransmitters that modulate hormonal levels, such as dopamine, prolactin and neuroactive flavonoids. Through these actions, Chaste Tree Berry acts to regulate heavy menstrual flow due to insufficient progesterone production and alleviate mood changes associated with erratic hormone production.

Numerous older studies in Germany have found Chaste Tree Berry or Vitex helpful for PMS. Reduction in headaches, breast tenderness, anxiety, bloating and fatigue were reported after approximately three months, with minimal side effects.

A recent study in the British Medical Journal by R. Schellenberg (1) evaluated the use of Chaste Tree berry in women with the premenstrual syndrome. They evaluated 170 women with PMS and divided them into a placebo controlled arm (84) and treatment arm (86). The mean age was 36 years with average cycle lengths of 28 days. They treated with 20 milligram tablet Chaste Tree extract or placebo for three consecutive cycles from April to December 1998.

The main outcome measures included women's self-assessment of irritability, mood alteration, anger, headache, breast fullness, and other menstrual symptoms including bloating.

The results showed a statistically significant improvement in the main outcome measures compared to placebo and over half of the women noted a 50% or greater improvement in their symptoms. The fact that it was well tolerated without significant side effects is an additional advantage No women discontinued the trial due to adverse effect.

The authors concluded that “dry extract of agnus castus fruit is an effective and well tolerated treatment for the relief of symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome”.

This is an important study for women suffering from PMS. This condition can be debilitating to many women. Often, many practitioners are consulted and multiple treatments attempted before an accurate diagnosis is made and proper treatment initiated. Although the exact cause of this condition is unknown, many treatments are advocated. This study is important because it proves the efficacy of the Chaste Tree berry, thus allowing women another natural remedy to try for PMS.

What are the recommended Preparations/Dosages?
Traditionally 20 milligram per day tablets are recommended. Manufacturer dosages vary according to their standardization. Therefore, it is prudent to read the specific dosage instructions from each manufacturer.

What about Side Effects?
Side effects are very unusual and may include gastric discomfort. In general, less than 2% of women will notice side effects, including gastric discomfort and diarrhea Fortunately, this usually does not persist. If discomfort, nausea or vomiting persist, discontinue use and see your health care practitioner.

Are there any Contraindications?
This herbal product has not been adequately studied in pregnancy and is contraindicated in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

(1) Schellenberg, R Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomized, placebo controlled study. BMJ 2001; 322:134-137