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Chaste Tree (Chasteberry)

Botanical name(s):

Vitex agnus-castus L. Family: Verbenaceae

Other name(s):

chasteberry, cloister pepper, hemp tree, monk's pepper, vitex

General description

Vitex agnus-castus, or chaste tree, is a shrub that bears violet flowers and berries. The medicinal parts are the dried fruit and leaves. The plant comes from the Mediterranean and western Asia. It can also now be found in southeastern parts of North America.

Chaste tree contains iridoids, flavonoids, progestins, and essential oils. This combination may help control menstrual cycles and ease menstrual pain. It may also treat some endocrine problems.

Medically valid uses

There are no valid medical uses for chaste tree.

A few studies suggest that chaste tree helps premenstrual syndrome. But the studies weren’t designed well, so the results aren’t reliable.

There is also some evidence that chasteberry may help with some types of infertility. It may also help with breast pain. But more studies are needed to confirm this. 

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

Chaste tree has been used to treat menstrual cycle problems and pain, premenstrual syndrome, and menopause. Chaste tree berries may help stimulate progesterone. This is the female hormone that’s present two weeks before menstruation. It may also help normalize estrogen and progesterone.

Chaste tree is claimed to help treat painful breasts (mastodynia). In European herbalism and medicine, vitex extracts are also used for uterine fibroid cysts. They also help boost breast milk supply in new mothers. The herb has a long history in balancing hormones. It may also help subdue excited libidos in people who wish to stay chaste.

Dosing format

Chaste tree comes in the form of tinctures, capsules, and liquid extracts. Follow the instructions on the package for the correct dose.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

Chaste tree has no serious side effects. Mild side effects can include nausea, stomach issues, diarrhea, and itchy rash.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use chaste tree. It isn’t known if chaste tree is safe for children.

You should not use chaste tree if you take dopamine receptor antagonists. These are antipsychotics and medicines used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Chaste tree berries may interact with these medicines.

You also shouldn’t use chaste tree if you take oral birth control pills, hormone replacement medicines, and other endocrine treatments. Chaste tree may interact with these medicines.

Online Medical Reviewer: Poulson, Brittany, RD
Online Medical Reviewer: Wilkins, Joanna, R.D., C.D.
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2016