Latin Name: Vitex agnus-castus
The chaste berry has been long been used throughout history as a female tonic: improving menstruation, fertility, milk production, and menopausal symptoms.
The listings of research below represents a compilation of scientific articles found on the species, with a very brief overview description of each article/study. Research found is catalogued by therapeutic action. This categorized compilation of research articles does not necessarily imply that there are adequate results to demonstrate safe and/or effective human use.
- Natural Medicines. (2016). Vitex agnus-castus monograph. Retrieved in June, 2017. Retrieved from www.naturalmedicines.com
- Petersen, D. (2016). Course Material: HERB503 Advanced Materia Medica II. American College of Healthcare Sciences. www.achs.edu
- The chaste tree has been used since ancient Greek times to treat menstrual issues and promote breast milk production. It has also been a symbol of celibacy throughout history, from Greek, on into medieval time, thus giving it the common name of monk’s pepper. From: Weil, A., et al. (2010). National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs. National Geographic. Washington D.C.
- Avoid use during pregnancy and lactation (Natural Medicines, 2016).
- May interfere with the following drugs: contraceptives, dopamine agonists, estrogens, metoclopramide, and anti-psychotics (Natural Medicines, 2016).
- Avoid with hormone sensitive cancers, in vitro fertilization, Parkinson’s, and psychotic disorders including Schizophrenia (Natural Medicines, 2016).
- The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle was made more regular with Vitex agnus-castus (chaste tree) extract and two women with latent hyperprolactinemia got pregnant in a randomized placebo controlled double blind study of 52 women. From: Milewicz, A., Gejdel, E., Sworen, H., Sienkiewicz, K., Jedrzejak, J., Teucher, T., & Schmitz, H. (1993). Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of luteal phase defects due to latent hyperprolactinemia. Results of a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study. Arzneimittel-forschung, 43(7), 752-756.
- Extracts from Vitex agnus-castus showed prolactin inhibition activity against rat pituitary cells in vitro and may be useful in treating hyperprolactinaemia. From: Sliutz, G., Speiser, P., Schultz, A. M., Spona, J., & Zeillinger, R. (1993). Agnus castus extracts inhibit prolactin secretion of rat pituitary cells. Hormone and metabolic research, 25(05), 253-255.
- Vitex agnus castus extract reduced cyclical mastalgia in this placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind study, and without increase adverse effects compaired to the placebo. From: Halaska, M., Beles, P., Gorkow, C., & Sieder, C. (1999). Treatment of cyclical mastalgia with a solution containing a Vitex agnus castus extract: results of a placebo-controlled double-blind study. The Breast, 8(4), 175-181.
- In a multi-center study of 1634 patients with premenstrual syndrome, a chaste berry extract reduced symptoms. Loch, E. G., Selle, H., & Boblitz, N. (2000). Treatment of premenstrual syndrome with a phytopharmaceutical formulation containing Vitex agnus castus. Journal of women’s health & gender-based medicine, 9(3), 315-320.
- In this review of multiple studies, it was concluded that dopaminergic compounds (including clerodadienols) within Vitex agnus castus improved premenstrual mastodynia and other symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. From: Wuttke, W., Jarry, H., Christoffel, V., Spengler, B., & Seidlova-Wuttke, D. (2003). Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)–pharmacology and clinical indications. Phytomedicine, 10(4), 348-357.
- In a clinical trial, Vitex agnus castus extract was compared to the serotonin reuptake inhibitor: fluoxetine in treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder and patients responded well to either treatment with no statistically significant difference between the two groups. From: Atmaca, M., Kumru, S., & Tezcan, E. (2003). Fluoxetine versus Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 18(3), 191-195.
- In a multicenter trial of Vitex agnus castus extract to treat premenstrual syndrome, symptom relief was demonstrated. From: Berger, D., Schaffner, W., Schrader, E., Meier, B., & Brattström, A. (2000). Efficacy of Vitex agnus castus L. extract Ze 440 in patients with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 264(3), 150-153.
- In a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, parallel group comparison over three menstrual cycles, Vitex agnus-castus extract was an effective and well tolerated treatment for the relief of premenstrual symptoms. From: Schellenberg, R. (2001). Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study. Bmj, 322(7279), 134-137.
- In a double-blind, placebo controlled, parallel-group, multi-center clinical trial of 217 Chinese women, Vitex agnus-castus was safe and effective in treating PMS. From: He, Z., Chen, R., Zhou, Y., Geng, L., Zhang, Z., Chen, S., … & Lin, S. (2009). Treatment for premenstrual syndrome with Vitex agnus castus: A prospective, randomized, multi-center placebo controlled study in China. Maturitas, 63(1), 99-103.
- Breast pain associated with menstrual cycle was reduced in this double-blind, placebo controlled parallel study of 97 women. From: Halaska, M., Raus, K., Bĕles, P., Martan, A., & Paithner, K. G. (1998). Treatment of cyclical mastodynia using an extract of Vitex agnus castus: results of a double-blind comparison with a placebo. Ceska gynekologie, 63(5), 388-392.
- Based on a review of data from randomized and non-randomized studies, it was determened that Vitex agnus- castus can be considered an efficient treatment of mastalgia. From: Carmichael, A. R. (2008). Can Vitex agnus castus be used for the treatment of mastalgia? What is the current evidence?. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 5(3), 247-250.
- In two human clinical studies, essential oil from the leaf and fruit of chaste tree showed reduced menopausal symptoms. From: Lucks, B. C., Sørensen, J., & Veal, L. (2002). Vitex agnus-castus essential oil and menopausal balance: a self-care survey. Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, 8(3), 148-154.
- Sixty postmenopausal women in a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study, chaste berry reduced hot flushes. From: Abbaspoor, Z., Hajikhani, N. A., & Afshari, P. (2011). Effect of Vitex agnus-castus on Menopausal Early Symptoms in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo–Controlled Study.
- In a review of research, the following herbs showed useful for treating menstrual complaints: vitamins B1 and E for dysmenorrhea, and calcium, vitamin B6, and chasteberry for premenstrual syndrome. Black cohosh showed potential for treating menopause. From: Dennehy, C. E. (2006). The use of herbs and dietary supplements in gynecology: an evidence‐based review. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 51(6), 402-409.
- Extracts of chaste berries have shown to lower stress-induced prolactin through a dopaminergic effect. From: Sliutz, G., Speiser, P., Schultz, A. M., Spona, J., & Zeillinger, R. (1993). Agnus castus extracts inhibit prolactin secretion of rat pituitary cells. Hormone and metabolic research, 25(05), 253-255.
- Agnus castus extracts demonstrated in vitro dopamine-D2 receptor binding at the human pituitary gland. From: Jarry, H., Leonhardt, S., Gorkow, C. H., & Wuttke, W. (1994). In vitro prolactin but not LH and FSH release is inhibited by compounds in extracts of Agnus castus: direct evidence for a dopaminergic principle by the dopamine receptor assay. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, 102(06), 448-454.
- Agnus castus extracts showed in vivo inhibition of prolactin release in rat pituitary cells, likely related to a dopamine effect. From: Sliutz, G., Speiser, P., Schultz, A. M., Spona, J., & Zeillinger, R. (1993). Agnus castus extracts inhibit prolactin secretion of rat pituitary cells. Hormone and metabolic research, 25(05), 253-255.
- Vitex agnus castus (monk’s pepper) was used as an effective six hour spray to keep away ticks, mosquitoes, biting flies and fleas. From: Mehlhorn, H., Schmahl, G., & Schmidt, J. (2005). Extract of the seeds of the plant Vitex agnus castus proven to be highly efficacious with repellent against ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and biting flies. Parasitology research, 95(5), 363-365.
INSECTICIDE / LARVICIDE
- Vitex trifolia and three other Vitex species showed larvicidal activity against the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus. From: Kannathasan, K., Senthilkumar, A., Chandrasekaran, M., & Venkatesalu, V. (2007). Differential larvicidal efficacy of four species of Vitex against Culex quinquefasciatus larvae. Parasitology research, 101(6), 1721-1723.
- Vitex trifolia and Vitex agnus-castus essential oils affected the growth of Spilosoma obliqua moth larvae. From: Tandon, S., Mittal, A. K., & Pant, A. K. (2008). Insect growth regulatory activity of Vitex trifolia and Vitex agnus-castus essential oils against Spilosoma obliqua. Fitoterapia, 79(4), 283-286.
- Extracts from Vitex agnus-castus: methyl 3,4-dihydroxybenzoate and 5-hydroxy-2-methoxybenzoic acid showed significant antiinflammatory activity in a cell-based contemporary assay, and both casticin and 3,3′-dihydroxy-5,6,7,4′-tetramethoxy flavon exhibited a potent lipoxygenase inhibition From: Choudhary, M. I., Jalil, S., Nawaz, S. A., Khan, K. M., & Tareen, R. B. (2009). Antiinflammatory and lipoxygenase inhibitory compounds from vitex agnus‐castus. Phytotherapy Research, 23(9), 1336-1339.
- Vitexcarpen, a new compound isolated from Vitex agnus-castus, showed activity against urease and chymotrypsin enzymes and moderate in vitro anti-inflammatory activity against activated human neutrophils. From: Ahmad, B., Azam, S., Bashir, S., Adhikari, A., & Choudhary, M. I. (2010). Biological activities of a new compound isolated from the aerial parts of Vitex agnus castus L. African Journal of Biotechnology, 9(53), 9063-9069.
- Casticin from the plant Vitex agnus-castus possessed a marked lipid peroxidation inhibitory effect. From: Hajdú, Z., Hohmann, J., Forgo, P., Martinek, T., Dervarics, M., Zupkó, I., … & Máthé, I. (2007). Diterpenoids and flavonoids from the fruits of Vitex agnus‐castus and antioxidant activity of the fruit extracts and their constituents. Phytotherapy Research, 21(4), 391-394.
- Vitex agnus-castus showed cytotoxicity against a variety of human cancer cells in vitro. From: Ohyama, K., Akaike, T., Hirobe, C., & Yamakawa, T. (2003). Cytotoxicity and apoptotic inducibility of Vitex agnus-castus fruit extract in cultured human normal and cancer cells and effect on growth. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 26(1), 10-18.
- Both 1,8-cineole and α-pinene constituents isolated from Vitex agnus-castus showed very high antimicrobial potency in vitro. From: Stojković, D., Soković, M., Glamočlija, J., Džamić, A., Ćirić, A., Ristić, M., & Grubišić, D. (2011). Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of Vitex agnus-castus L. fruits and leaves essential oils. Food Chemistry, 128(4), 1017-1022.
- Extract of Vitex agnus-castus inhibited prostate epithelial cell growth and induced apoptosis; being a potential treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia and human prostate cancer. From: Weisskopf, M., Schaffner, W., Jundt, G., Sulser, T., Wyler, S., & Tullberg-Reinert, H. (2005). A Vitex agnus-castus extract inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis in prostate epithelial cell lines. Planta medica, 71(10), 910-916.
Compiled by: Kathy Sadowski