Nutritional Supplements Library
Chasteberry (Latin name- Vitex)
What is Chasteberry?
Chasteberry is a plant. It is also known as vitex or Monk's pepper. Because at one point Vitex was thought to lead to loss of libido, it has earned the nickname "chaste tree". This medicinal plant is native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia where it has a long history of use by herbal healers, including Hippocrates and Dioscorides. Ancient uses for chasteberry included birth control and suppression of libido, especially in monks. It grows to heights between 6 and 25 feet.  The fruit of the plant is primarily used and appears as tiny black peppercorns, possessing a pepper-like aroma and flavor. The leaves are occasionally used medicinally and appear as 2 - 6 inch long leaflets that are dark green above and gray underneath. Slender spikes of lavender/blue flowers are sometimes used in medicines as well. It contains several possibly active chemicals - most notably, some that affect Prolactin levels in the body. Chasteberry is believed to work by suppressing the release of Prolactin from the pituitary gland. For women who are not pregnant, high prolactin levels may be associated with breast pain and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as bloating, cramps, irritability, and mood swings.
The main active compounds in Vitex/chasteberry are found in its ripe dried fruit, and its main constituents are the flavonoids, which include casticin (the predominant flavonoid), isovitexin, and orientin. It also contains terpenes and plant steroids. Supplement form of it is available in tablets, capsules, tinctures and liquid form.
What is the effective dosage of Chasteberry/Vitex supplementation?
The effective dosage is 300 to 500 mg /1-4 ml per day in divided dosage. Generally, it should be taken in the morning to coincide with the diurnal rhythm of the pituitary gland. The effect of it does not appear quickly. It often takes up to 3 -6 months to observe benefit in the condition being treated. However, if the problem is longstanding, it may take longer.
What are the benefits of Chasteberry/Vitex supplementation?
• Chasteberry may regulate ovulation and help women who are struggling with infertility to become pregnant by correcting a condition known as luteal phase defect.
• It alleviates premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Stabilizes menstrual abnormalities
• It eases menopausal symptoms
• It helps restore fertility in women
• It is also an (mild) antioxidant. As such, it is capable of stabilizing unpaired oxygen molecules. These molecules, the result of chemical reactions that take place in the body on a daily basis, are capable of causing damage throughout the body unless they are stabilized.
What are the side effects of Chasteberry/Vitex supplementation?
Chasteberry/Vitex is well tolerated; reported adverse effects are minor and may include gastrointestinal complaints, dizziness, and dry mouth. No serious adverse effects have been documented as a result of taking chastberry.
• There haven't been any detailed studies of the safety of chasteberry.German research indicates that chasteberry is safe for the first three months of pregnancy, but is unsafe after that time as it might start the flow of milk too early. But still it is safe to consult doctor before use.