One of the fascinating things about the study of herbal medicines is getting to see how a single plant has been perceived and used across various regions, herbal traditions, and time periods. Frequently, plants are known universally for their core characteristics and are applied throughout various traditions in similar ways. However, there are examples of herbs that have widely diverse and hotly debated indications; chaste tree, also known as Vitex agnus castus, is one such herb.
Chaste Tree Berry
Chaste tree medicine comes from shrubby bushes or small trees with tender leaves and speckled flowers. The berry is the most common part of the plant used today although in Ancient Greece the leaves were added to wine, and the branches used to make furniture.
Grows in Shrubby Bushes
An herb's common name can tell us a lot about its history. The "chaste" in chaste tree berry refers to the berry's legendary capacity to curb sexual appetites, particularly in men. Both Pliny, the Roman documenter of natural medicine, and Dioscorides, the Greek physician, noted this effect in their works. This quality of the chaste berry made it useful for young vestal virgins wishing to protect themselves from overly amorous suitors. These women would place the foul smelling branches of this tree on their beds and carry it around with them as a symbol. The common names Monk's Pepper and Monk's Protector tell of its history as an herb used in monasteries and convents to guard the vow of chastity.
The Temple of the Vestal Virgins in Rome
Today, on the other hand, Vitex agnus-castus is very famous for helping women cultivate fertility, balance menstrual cycle irregularities, encourage healthy milk production, support healthy shedding of the uterine lining, and manage menopausal discomforts. These days you can find Vitex listed on practically every herbal formula that says "Woman" on it!
Have you ever received conflicting recommendations about how and when to use Vitex? The truth is, there is disagreement in the herbal community surrounding the specific applications of this herb. Some say it is strictly for boosting progesterone, some say it is over promoted, and some say it influences the pituitary, resulting in normalization of estrogen and progesterone balance. According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, "A decline in progesterone is the first hormonal change to cause symptoms in a woman approaching menopause." With this information, many holistic practitioners view Vitex as an ideal choice for supporting menopausal discomforts. However, it is not recommended if a woman is already taking Hormone Replacement Therapy.
WishGarden's Hot Flash
WishGarden's Hot Flash Formula contains: Black Cohosh root, Raspberry leaf, Vitex (chaste) fruit, Wild Yam root, Borage aerial, Bugleweed aerial, Burdock root, Lemon Balm leaf. Accompanying Vitex in this blend are 7 energetically cooling herbs that nourish the nervous system, liver, thyroid and uterus. Vitex helps with longterm regulation, and thus it is recommended to take for 2-6 months for best results. Other herbs in the formula provide quicker symptom relief. Dosage for Hot Flash Formula is 2-3 droppers full, in water for taste, 3x day. Results are better when taken consistently for 3 to 4 weeks or longer.
WishGarden Herbs' formulas containing Vitex:
Fertility Prep Mother's Cordial, Hot Flash! Soothing Tonic, Monthly Rescue For Problem Menses, PMS Emotional Radical Rescue!, Progesteronic Support Hormonal Tonic, ReBalance Postpartum Hormonal, Wise Changes Reproductive Tonic, and WombKind Hormone Tonic
Written by Christina Bertelli, Certified Clinical Herbalist
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.