The Vitex agnus-castus fruit, also known as Chasteberry, chaste berry, or chaste tree berry is an herbal remedy most commonly used to improve the female reproductive system. It is particularly effective in encouraging hormonal harmony and supporting fertility, as well as easing PMS & menopausal symptoms.
Chasteberry is also used as a natural remedy for insect bites, acne, headaches, and colds.
As to whether it is safe to take during pregnancy, opinions within the health and midwifery professions are divided.
Here’s what we know.
It Eases Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
One of the most well-researched benefits of chasteberry is its effectiveness in reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) such as pelvic discomfort, irritability, premenstrual acne, cravings, and migraines.
Studies have shown that chasteberry reduces levels of the hormone prolactin, which in turn helps to rebalance hormones like estrogen and progesterone, thus relieving PMS symptoms. It is also known to ease breast tenderness linked to menstruation.
In one recent study, 93% of women who took chasteberry over three consecutive months reported an overall improvement in PMS symptoms.
Helps Reduce Menopause Symptoms
The hormone-balancing abilities of chasteberry are also known to relieve menopausal symptoms such as mood swings, pelvic discomfort, interrupted sleep, and hot flashes.
In one study, 23 women experiencing menopause symptoms took chasteberry supplements for three months and reported better moods and improved sleep. In a follow-up study, of the 52 additional women who used a chasteberry cream, 33% experienced major improvement in symptoms and 36% reported moderate improvements.
Improves Female Fertility
Due to its effect on prolactin levels, chasteberry is also believed to improve female fertility.
Women with a shorter luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, or irregular periods can experience abnormally high prolactin levels, making it more difficult for them to conceive.
In recent studies, it has been found that a natural chasteberry supplement, such as the Vitex Chasteberry Supplementfrom Intimate Rose was just as effective as pharmaceutical drugs in reducing prolactin levels. Additionally, women with luteal phase defects experienced longer and more regular menstrual phases.
Is Chasteberry During Pregnancy Safe?
During a recent study carried out by scientists from the University of Toronto, evidence showed that while chasteberry is safe for general use, more testing is needed to confirm its safety for pregnant women.
Because chasteberry can alter hormones, especially those that are important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is recommended that expectant mothers and breastfeeding mothers avoid using it.
It is also widely suggested that women with breast cancer should refrain from using chasteberry, as well as those taking birth control pills and treatment for hormone replacement.
Additionally, chasteberry can interact with medication for Parkinson’s Disease and certain antipsychotic drugs.
Vitex agnus-castus or Chasteberry is a natural remedy used to relieve symptoms of menopause and PMS, as well as improve female fertility, balance hormones, and stabilize menstrual cycles. However, it is not currently recommended during pregnancy.
If you are considering a chasteberry supplement it’s always best to speak with your healthcare provider first.
S. Ganapaty, K.N. Vidyadhar -Phytoconstituents and Biological Activities of Vitex –
M. Diana van Die, Henry G. Burger, Helena J Teede, Kerry M. Bone - Vitex agnus-astus Extracts for Female Reproductive Disorders -https://www.thieme-connect.de/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0032-1327831
Barbara Chopin Lucks - Vitex agnus castus essential oil and menopausal balance: a research update [Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12852933/
A Milewicz E Gejdel, H Sworen, K Sienkiewicz, J Jedrzejak, T Teucher, H Schmitz - Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinemia. Results of a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8369008/
Jean-Jacques Dugoua, Dugald Seely, Daniel Perri, Gideon Koren, Edward Mills -Safety and efficacy of chastetree (Vitex agnus-castus) during pregnancy and lactation - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18204102/