Vitex Agnus castus
Agnus Castus Berries Hormone balancing
The herb is mainly known as a remedy used by women. I will concentrate on its effects for PMT and menopause - its main uses today.
The effect it has on female hormones is largely a balancing effect. This 'normalising' influence makes it useful in a wide range of situations. And it can be helpful for a large proportion of the time - some studies indicate improvements in symptoms for 90% of sufferers from PMT.
Some women use Agnus castus to help with pre-menstrual symptoms. It's also been tried as a treatment for symptoms of the menopause.
The name 'Agnus Castus' derives from the Greek for 'chaste'. According to Pliny, writing in the first century, Greek women wishing to preserve their chastity placed leaves of this plant on their beds and slept on them.
Also known as “Chaste Tree”, “Chasteberry”, “Abraham’s balm” and “Monk’s Pepper” the Vitex agnus-castus is a naturally found in the Mediterranean and African regions. It is well known since ancient times when it was used for its anaphrodisiac properties – from where it derives its “chaste” name. Its medicinal uses found mention in treatments used by Hippocrates and Dioscorides.
The herb is used to primarily treat ailments related to the female reproductive system, such as regularising hormones and menstrual cycle, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, relieve menstrual cycle pain and assist in birthing. It is considered as the best option for endometriosis and uterine fibroid cysts. Vitex agnus-castus is safe during pregnancy and is known to improve milk production in lactating women.
The medicinal uses of this herb extend to treatment of acne (causes by hormonal imbalance), catarrh, female infertility, PMS, heavy menstruation and menopause.
The herb is an exceptionally potent insect and snake repellent. In many regions in India it is used to keep snakes away from entering homes.
The use of Vitex agnus-castus is contradicted for women who are already undergoing treatment for hormone replacement or are pregnant.