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Vitex agnus-castus (Chasteberry)

Vitex agnus-castus known as the chaste tree can grow as tall as 20 feet, in deciduous shrubs with small lilac flowers and palm shaped leaves. They produce purple berries, known as chasteberries, are harvested in the autumn and used for medicinal purposes. Native to Western Asia and the Mediterranean, they prefer to grow in subtropical areas and can be found in many regions around the world.1
The chaste tree was used in ancient Rome and Greece in various religious events and for medicinal purposes.2 Historically known for being an important herb for regulating and reducing sexual desire, the berries were consumed by monks to control their libido. 1 During the 6th-century BC, the tree was also viewed to ward off evil.
Chaste tree is an important herb for female hormone regulation as it can assist with balancing the female sex hormones of progesterone and estrogen in the ovaries, and is known for it’s progesterogenic effect on the pituitary gland. Clinical research have found the berries to assist in a wide array of female gynecological and menstrual cycle issues, including premenstrual syndrome, irregular menstrual cycles, menopause and infertility. The berries can also impact the male sex hormones, through their antiandrogenic effect of inhibiting male androgens.1
The berries are also known to assist in difficulties with increasing milk production and in treating facial acne.3,4
1. Chevallier, Andrew. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. DK Publishing, 1996. Print.
2. Boon, Heather and Smith, Michael. The Botanical Pharmacy: The Pharmacology of 47 Commong Herbs. Quary Health Books, 1999. Print.
3. Bone, Kerry. The Ultimate Herbal Compendium: A Desktop Guide for Herbal Prescribers. Phytotherapy Press, 2007. Print. 
4. Godfrey, Anthony and Saunders Paul R. Principles and Practice of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine: Volume I: Botanical Medicine Monographs. CCNM Press Inc, 2010. Print.


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