What is Chasteberry?
Chasteberry, also known as Vitex, is an herbal berry native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. These medicinal berries grow on the chaste tree and have been used for their powerful healing abilities since ancient times.
While chasteberry is well known to treat a myriad of conditions associated with the female reproductive system, it is thought to be particularly effective in easing symptoms connected to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
What is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common female condition that causes a range of symptoms from physical pain to emotional fluctuations. It is thought to affect over 90% of women approximately 7-14 days before menstruation.
Exactly what causes PMS is yet to be determined, however, several scientific studies suggest a connection between the cyclical fluctuations of hormones and chemical changes in the brain pre-menstruation.
An increase in estrogen and progesterone, for example, is thought to contribute to symptoms like mood swings, and a heightened sense of stress or anxiety. Alternatively, a drop in the production of serotonin in the brain can cause food cravings, headaches, and sleep disruptions.
Chasteberry (Vitex) For Premenstrual Syndrome
Widely recommended by women’s health experts, chasteberry helps to relieve mood swings and headaches, lowers stress levels, reduces sleep disruptions, and lessens feelings of fatigue.
In addition, chasteberry reduces breast tenderness during PMS and significantly helps in managing cyclical mastalgia.
How Does Chasteberry Help With PMS?
While there is still lots to learn about how this herbal berry works against PMS, studies show that a regular chasteberry supplement, like the Chasteberry/Vitex Supplement from Intimate Rose, can help to reduce high levels of the hormone prolactin.
Lowering prolactin levels allows the reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone to rebalance.
Another theory is that chasteberry interacts favorably with the pituitary gland to reduce PMS symptoms. By rebalancing the production of luteinizing hormone while simultaneously reducing the production of follicle-stimulating hormone, a natural hormonal order is restored and symptoms are eased.
In a recent study, 93% of women who took chasteberry supplements over three consecutive months reported a significant improvement in PMS symptoms. Pelvic discomfort, irritability, premenstrual acne, and food cravings all improved notably.
Chasteberry is also known to ease breast tenderness linked to menstruation.
More commonly referred to as Cyclic Mastalgia, this form of breast tenderness comes and goes with the menstrual cycle. Also linked to high levels of the hormone prolactin, it generally flares during ovulation.
During a placebo-controlled study in 1999, however, 50% of the participants who took chasteberry supplements, for three menstrual cycles, reported significantly less breast discomfort.
Headache & Migraine Relief
Herbalists and women’s health practitioners also trust in chasteberry to relieve headaches and migraines related to the hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation.
In one scientific study,42% of women who were experiencing regular PMS migraines reported a 66% reduction in headaches after taking a daily chasteberry supplement for three months.
Clearer Skin & Less Acne
During a 2015 study, chaste berry, when taken daily, was one of many herbs to show positive impacts on reducing pre-menstrual acne. Again, the benefits were thought to stem from its natural abilities to interact with the pituitary gland and naturally lower the level of pre-menstrual prolactin.
Is Chasteberry Safe for Everyone?
While it is an effective and fast-acting natural remedy for PMS, Chasteberry can react with certain conditions or treatments.
It can react with oral contraceptives, for example, and could lower the effectiveness of the pill.
Due to chasteberry’s effect on female hormones that also relate to pregnancy and lactating, it is not recommended for pregnant women or breastfeeding moms.
Women on hormone replacement therapy may also find that a chasteberry supplement could render their therapy less effective. It is therefore suggested to primarily take it under the guidance of a doctor if hormone therapy is already in place.
How to Take Chasteberry & Possible Side Effects
For optimal results, a chasteberry supplement should be ingested, with food, for at least three months.
Although side effects are minimal, chasteberry can cause minor stomach upset or nausea in some patients. However, this is easily combatted by taking supplements that contain added anti-nausea ginger to combat stomach upset and improve digestive health, likethe Chasteberry/Vitex Supplementfrom Intimate Rose.
While studies are ongoing and we still have lots to learn, results on the effectiveness of chasteberry for managing symptoms of PMS are extremely positive.
Known to significantly relieve the intensity of mood swings, breast tenderness, pelvic discomfort, and more, chasteberry is quickly becoming the most popular natural remedy or PMS.
When considering any form of herbal supplement, it is always best to discuss it with your healthcare provider before use.
Mayo Clinic - Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): Definition
Use of Vitex agnus-castus in migrainous women with premenstrual syndrome: an open-label clinical observation - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22791378/
Halaška M, Beles P, Gorkow C, Sieder C. - Treatment of cyclical mastalgia with a solution containing Vitex agnus extract: results of a placebo-controlled double-blind study. The Breast 1999;8:175-81. - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14731436/
Hamid Nasri,Mahmoud Bahmani, Najmeh Shahinfard,Atefeh Moradi Nafchi,Shirin Saberianpour,and Mahmoud Rafieian KopaeiMedicinal Plants for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: A Review of Recent Evidences - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4740760/