Latin Name – Vitex agnus-castus
Chasteberry is the fruit of the chaste tree, a small shrub-like tree native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean region. The dried ripe chasteberry is used to prepare liquid extracts or solid extracts that are put into capsules and tablets. The name is thought to come from a belief that the plant promoted chastity—it is reported that monks in the Middle Ages used chasteberry to decrease sexual desire.
Traditional use of chasteberry as an herbal remedy was for menstrual problems and to help stimulate the production of breast milk.
Chasteberry is used as an herbal remedy in the hope of improving menstrual problems, such as premenstrual syndrome, as well as for symptoms of menopause, some types of infertility, and acne.
In terms of research on chasteberry, a few studies of its use as an herbal remedy for premenstrual syndrome have found a benefit. However, most of these studies were not well designed, so firm conclusions about chasteberry for premenstrual syndrome cannot be drawn.
Small research studies suggest that chasteberry may help with breast pain and some types of infertility, but there is not enough reliable scientific evidence to determine whether chasteberry has any effect on these conditions.
Side Effects and Cautions Summary
- Chasteberry side effects include gastrointestinal problems, acne-like rashes, and dizziness.
- Chasteberry may affect certain hormone levels. Women who are pregnant or taking birth control pills or who have a hormone-sensitive condition (such as breast cancer) should not use chasteberry.
- Because chasteberry may affect the dopamine system in the brain, people taking dopamine-related medications, such as selegiline, amantadine, and levodopa, should avoid using chasteberry.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health to help ensure coordinated and safe care. Complementary or alternative therapy should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.
- Chasteberry (Vitex agnus castus). In: Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker; 2005:95–103.
- Chasteberry. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on July 5, 2007.
- Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on July 3, 2007.
- Chaste tree fruit. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:62–64.
For More Information
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and NCCAM, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Web site: ods.od.nih.gov
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Chasteberry fact sheet Created December 2006, Updated April 2008