agnus castus

Vitex agnus-castus

Vitex agnus-castus (VAC) — commonly called just Vitex, but also called Chaste Tree, Chasteberry, or Monk's Pepper — is a native of the Mediterranean region. Refer to Vitex for other species in the genus.

Cultivation

Vitex agnus-castus is widely cultivated in warm temperate and subtropical regions for its aromatic foliage and flowers. It grows to a height of 1-5 meters. It requires full sun or partial shade along with well-drained soil.

Uses

Vitex, also a traditional plant in Africa, is a little-known fruit plant that has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

Medicinal use

Herbal medicine

The leaves and tender stem growth of the upper 10 cm (4 inches), along with the flowers and ripening seeds, are harvested for medicinal purposes. The berries are harvested by gently rubbing the berries loose from the stem. The leaves, flowers, and/or berries may be consumed as a decoction, traditional tincture, cider vinegar tincture, syrup, elixir, or simply eaten straight off the plant as a medicinal food.

The berries are considered a tonic herb for both the male and female reproductive systems. The leaves are believed to have the same effect but to a lesser degree.

This plant is commonly called monk's pepper because it was originally used as anti-libido medicine by monks to aid their attempts to remain celibate. It is believed to be an anaphrodisiac, hence the name chaste tree.

Clinical evidence

Clinical studies have shown its beneficial effects in the management of premenstrual stress syndrome (PMS). and infertility. The use of extracts of the plant is recommended in Germany.

Its mechanism of action is not well known. A study has found that treatment with higher doses of Vitex Agnus-castus caused a slight "reduction" of prolactin levels, whereas lower doses caused a slight "increase" as compared to doses of "placebo". A decrease of prolactin will influence levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen in women; and testosterone in men.

Chemical analysis

Flavonoids, alkaloids, diterpenoids, vitexin, casticin and steroidal hormone precursors have been isolated from the chemical analysis of Vitex agnus-castus. It is believed that some of these compounds work on the pituitary gland which would explain its effects on hormonal levels. A study has shown that extracts of the fruit of VAC can bind to opiate receptors; this could explain why intake of VAC reduces PMS discomforts.

Current uses

Vitex Agnus-Castus is used as an alternative medicine to alleviate symptoms of various gynecological problems

It is used in some supplements for male bodybuilders as a secondary component because of its effects on testosterone levels.

Contraindications

It is recommended that Vitex agnus-castus be avoided during pregnancy due to the possibility of complications.

References

Search another word or see agnus castuson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature