Vitex agnus-castusOther Names - Chaste Berry, Vitex, Chasteberry, Monk's pepper, Cloister pepper, Agnus Castus, Man jing zi
Description - Chasteberry has been used since ancient times as a female remedy. One of its properties was to reduce sexual desire, and it is recorded that Roman wives whose husbands were abroad with the legions spread the aromatic leaves on their couches for this purpose. It became known as the chasteberry tree.
The small fruits of this Mediterranean tree have been used for menstrual disorders by women since Greco-Roman times. Extract of vitex is a plant preparation which adjusts the monthly menstruation cycle on a natural basis and causes premenstrual discomforts to subside or completely disappear. An extract of vitex is approved in Germany for menstrual disorders, PMS and painful breasts.
Pharmacology - Another study found that extracts of Chasteberry can stimulate the release of Leutenizing Hormone (LH) and inhibit the release of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). This hormonal effect has been confirmed in another laboratory report which suggests that the volatile oil has a progesterone-like effect. Thus, Vitex's benefits stem from its actions upon the pituitary gland—specifically on the production of luteinizing hormone. This increases progesterone production and helps regulate a woman’s cycle. Vitex also keeps prolactin secretion in check. The ability to decrease excessive prolactin levels may benefit infertile womenActive Compounds: Iridoid glycosides which include aucbin and agnoside. Flavonoids including casticin, isovitexin and orientin.
Medicinal Uses -
Vitex is useful for the treatment of:
Chasteberry has the effect of stimulating and normalizing pituitary gland functions, especially its progesterone function. It may be called an amphoteric remedy, as it can produce apparently opposite effects though in truth it is simply normalizing. It will usually enable what is appropriate to occur. The greatest use of Chasteberry lies in normalizing the activity of female sex hormones and it is thus indicated for dysmenorrhoea, premenstrual stress and other disorders related to hormone function. Vitex may also help reduce some of the undesirable symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes associated with the reduction in the production of progesterone. May be used to aid the body to regain a natural balance after the use of the birth control pill. Several studies indicate that vitex can help control acne in teenagers, young women and men.For women who are trying to get pregnant, vitex may be helpful to help regulate the ovulatory cycle. It may be taken throughout the end of the third month of pregnancy, which may help prevent miscarriage, according to German research. After the third month it is still safe to take but is not recommended, because it may bring on the flow of milk too early.
Clinical research shows that vitex may start working to treat imbalances after about 10 days, but for full benefit it should be taken up to 6 months or longer. With PMS, a positive result may be felt by the second menstruation, but permanent improvement may take up to a year or longer
Contra-indications - Vitex should be used with caution by those who are weak or anemic. Side effects of using vitex are rare. Minor gastrointestinal upset and a mild skin rash with itching have been reported in less than 2% of the women monitored while taking vitex. Vitex is not recommended for use during pregnancy
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