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What is Chasteberry?

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Updated July 30, 2008

Question: What is Chasteberry?
Answer: Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-catus) is the fruit of the chaste tree and is an herb used for the treatment of menstrual problems. Women have used chasteberry for thousands of years to help reduce the symptoms menstrual problems and to stimulate the production of breast milk. During the middle ages, monks reportedly used chasteberry to decrease sexual desire and preserve chastity. Today, chasteberry is used to reduce the symptoms of PMS and menopause, to ease breast pain, for some types of infertility, and acne.

Other names for chasteberry include chaste-tree berry, vitex, and monk’s pepper.

While chasteberry is not associated with any serious side effects, some users have experienced gastrointestinal problems, acne-like rashes, and dizziness. Certain women with hormone-related conditions such as breast cancer should not use chasteberry. Pregnant women, women using oral contraceptives, and people taking dopamine medications such as selegiline, amantadine, and levodopa should not use this herb.

Although chasteberry has shown an improvement of the symptoms of PMS in a few small studies, more research is necessary to determine the safety and effectiveness of this herb.

Always tell your doctor about any herbs, OTC medications, and vitamin or mineral supplements you take.

Source:
Chasteberry NCCAM Herbs at a Glance; NCCAM; http://nccam.nih.gov/health/chasteberry/; accessed 07/25/08.

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