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Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)

Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)

Key Attributes: female hormone balancer, PMS, uterine tonic, male sex drive reducer


Chaste Tree is possibly the most well known hormone balancer for women.  It is found in formulas made to address PMS, dysmenorrhea, menopause, and is useful to treat any type of imbalance caused by a disturbance in hormonal activity.  It is indicated when treating hormonal acne, during the period of rebalance experienced after discontinuing use of birth control pills, and also when trying to become pregnant, as it can increase fertility.chaste tree 150x150 Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus castus)


Chaste Tree is a member of the Verbenacea family.  It is a deciduous tree, native to woodlands and dry areas of southern Europe and western Asia.  It is easily cultivated almost anywhere, particularly southern regions of the United States.  It is often used decoratively in landscaping.

chaste tree berries Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus castus)The fruit (berry) of the plant is used medicinally, and its active constituents include iridoid glycosides, labdane diterpenes, flavonoids, and essential oil.  The actions of the herb are hormonal normalizer, uterine tonic, and galactagogue.

In the body, the action of chaste tree is on the pituitary gland.  It indirectly supports the gland’s production of progesterone, normalizing the amount of the hormone in the blood.  An imbalance of progesterone in females can be the cause of PMS and dysmenorrhea, thus chaste tree can be an effective remedy to alleviate these conditions.  Not only does it have the ability to ease symptoms, but over time can actually treat the root cause of the disorder.

During menopause, many women experience unpleasant symptoms related to the shift of balance in sex hormones.  Chaste tree can address these symptoms when they are connected to a deficiency in progesterone.  Studies have shown that it is effective to treat hormonal acne in teenage men and women.  The progesterone-enhancing affect of chaste tree renders it perfect to address unpleasant symptoms for women weening themselves off of birth control pills.

In men, chaste tree can be used as an anti-aphrodisiac.  In fact, the name “chaste tree” was given to the plant because monks in Europe traditionally used to eat the berries regularly in order to calm their libidos.  Most monasteries had several chaste trees growing on the grounds.

Chaste tree should be used with caution in pregnancy.  It is contraindicated in females who suffer from PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) as this condition generally occurs in women with low levels of estrogen and high levels of progesterone.  Chaste tree may aggravate these levels and worsen symptoms.

Dosage for chaste tree tincture is 2.5 ml 3 times per day.  To make an infusion, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp dried berries and steep 15 minutes.  This tea can be taken 3 times per day.


Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman, FNIMH, AHG

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