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Chasteberry is the fruit of a small shrub-like tree known as the chaste tree. The plant is native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean. It is also known as chaste-tree berry, monk’s pepper, and vitex.
Why Chasteberry is used
Chasteberry has been in use for thousands of years as a treatment for a variety of conditions. The name chasteberry comes from a tradition among monks in medieval Europe who believed the plant could reduce sexual desire.
While the belief of the monks has not been proven, chasteberry continues to be used by women to ease menstrual symptoms. The herb appears to have indirect effects on certain hormones. It is believed to be able to ease premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and may also help ease breast discomfort that is caused by hormone fluctuations during the monthly cycle. Studies have shown that chasteberry may help reduce breast pain, water-retention, constipation, irritability, depression, anger, and headaches associated with PMS.
Chasteberry was also believed to encourage production of breast milk, but there is little evidence to support this claim.
How Chasteberry is used
Chasteberry is consumed as a liquid or pill. The ripe berries are dried then used to produce an extract.
Cautions for Chasteberry
There are no serious side effects associated with the use of chasteberry, but it can cause gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, and rashes that resemble acne. Other considerations for using chasteberry include:
• Chasteberry may affect hormone levels. Women who are pregnant or who have hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer should not take chasteberry.
• Chasteberry may affect dopamine in the brain. People who are taking medications that are related to dopamine, such as some antipsychotic medications and drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease should not use chasteberry.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about any supplements you chose to take, including chasteberry. Your doctor needs to have full information about every medication you are taking in order to provide you with the best possible care.