Early people believed that Chasteberry could suppress sexual drive. That’s why monks used to chew on its dried berries to fulfill their vows of celibacy. But later on these claims gained disagreements from various studies.
Today, products of Chaste tree have proven significant effects on hormonal treatment and for reproductive health of women. It is used as hormonal tonic for treatment of various menstrual problems. Chasteberry has proved itself as a great help in women’s health.
What is Chasteberry?
Chasteberry, Vitex agnus-castus, also known as monk’s pepper, vitex, Abraham's Balm, and chaste tree berry, is a small shrub with silvery leaves that bears lovely violet flowers and reddish black berries. It is indigenous at the Mediterranean but also found in regions with subtropical climates. During the season of fall its berries turn ripe, and harvested to be dried that are used in medicinal purposes. Chasteberry can be made into or purchased as a tincture, tablet, liquid, capsule and dried herb/tea.
How Chasteberry Works
Unlike other herb for menopause, products of Chasteberry do not contain any hormone or hormone-like substances. It works by stimulating the pituitary gland in the brain to produce more luteinizing hormone (LH). LH will signal the brain to enhance the production of progesterone and estrogen in the ovaries, as well as prolactin that are responsible for breast milk production.
Chasteberry for Menopause
The Chasteberry due its ability to maintain the balance of hormone production, it stabilizes the decreasing estrogen hormone in menopausal women. This in turn, results to lesser severity and episodes of menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, low libido, vaginal dryness and depression. Additionally, because of its effect in prolactin, it minimizes or eliminates breast tenderness in menopausal women.
Other Uses of Chasteberry
Chasteberry products have many other health benefits aside from reducing menopausal symptoms. Some studies have proved its effect in reducing PMS (pre menstrual symptoms), it improves fertility and ovulation, regulates the menstrual cycle, reduces pain in endometriosis (pain in the pelvic), prevents prostate cancer, improves digestion, an anti-inflammatory and an efficient anti-oxidant.
Side Effects of Chasteberry
Chasteberry has no known side effects if taken in moderation. However, it should not be consumed for more than 6-8 months continuously. Overdose in Chasteberry can cause stomach upset, headache, dizziness, nausea, rash, and itchiness.
Chasteberry is also not recommended to those who are taking hormone therapies or contraceptive pills as they may cause interactions with these drugs. It is important to consult your physician before taking any supplements of Chasteberry to avoid any unwanted consequences.
Additionally, because Chasteberry affects the brain (specifically the dopamine system), those who are taking dopamine-related medications such as anti-psychotic drugs and drugs for Parkinson’s disease should not consume Chasteberry.
Buying Chasteberry Supplements
Chasteberry supplements can be found at local supermarkets, health stores, supplement suppliers and organic retailers. You can also buy it directly from a licensed naturopathic physician. Before purchasing, make sure the package have necessary guidelines like standardized amount of dosage, strength, warning, directions and should bear the name of a reputed company. However, you should first consult your doctor before taking any Chasteberry products to avoid complications if the supplement does not suit your health.
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