Related Terms

  • Abraham’s balm, Abrahams-strauch, Agneau chaste (French), Agni casti fructus (Latin), Agnocasto, agnus castus, agnus-castus, chaste berry, chaste tree, chaste tree berry, chastetree, gattilier (French), hemp tree, Keuschlammfruchte (German), kyskhedstrae (Danish), monk’s pepper, Moenchspfeffer (German), petit poivre (French), Verbenaceae (family), vitex.

Background

  • The chaste tree is native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. Its berries have long been used for a variety of abnormalities including “corpus luteum deficiency,” mastalgia (breast pain), and menstrual abnormalities.
  • Chasteberry has been shown to inhibit prolactin secretion by competitively binding to dopamine receptors. Available evidence suggests that chasteberry may be an effective treatment option for hyperprolactinemic (elevated serum prolactin levels) conditions, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Chasteberry does not appear to affect levels of luteinizing hormone or follicle stimulating hormone.
  • Currently, clinical trials have found that treatment with chasteberry has been well tolerated with minimal side effects.
  • The dried fruit of chasteberry plants has been used for thousands of years as a means of treating various ailments, ranging from impotence to breast pain. It was popular in ancient Greece and Rome to help promote celibacy. More recently, chasteberry has gained recognition for its success in alleviating some signs and symptoms of hyperprolactinemia and premenstrual syndrome. It is thought to have a normalizing effect on the menstrual cycle and has been used successfully to treat both amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) and menorrhagia (heavy menstruation).

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

    Hyperprolactinemia (excessive prolactin in the blood)

    Chasteberry may inhibit prolactin secretion, and thus has been suggested as a potential therapy in hyperprolactinemia, a condition characterized by elevated serum prolactin levels. Although preliminary evidence is promising, additional study is warranted in this area.

    Corpus luteum deficiency / luteal phase deficiency

    Corpus luteum deficiency (CLD) is a term more commonly used in Europe than in the United States, and refers to irregular development of the corpus luteumfollowing ovulation, resulting in abnormal progesterone secretion and incomplete endometrial differentiation. The term luteal phase deficiency (LPD) has also been used in this setting, and has been implicated both in infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss. The use of chasteberry for this condition remains controversial.

    Cyclic mastalgia (breast pain)

    Despite preliminary promising results, it remains unclear if chasteberry is an effective treatment in the management of cyclic mastalgia. Additional study is needed in this area.

    Irregular menstrual cycles

    It remains unclear if chasteberry is an effective therapy in the management of irregular menses. Additional study is needed in this area.

    Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

    There is limited controlled trial evidence suggesting possible benefits of chasteberry in the alleviation of symptoms of PMDD. Further evidence is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

    Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

    Most studies evaluating chasteberry in PMS have been of poor study design, although one recent trial demonstrating benefit is of high quality. Further evidence is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

  • Adults (18 years and older):

    • Some experts recommend taking chasteberry on an empty stomach in the morning for maximal benefits. However, no studies have confirmed this finding. Various doses of chasteberry have been used in studies and practice. Traditional doses have ranged from 3.5-4.5 milligrams per day of dried extract to 600 milligrams three times per day of dried fruit. Other traditional dosing includes an aqueous alcoholic extract derived from 30-40 milligrams of dried fruit daily in 50-70% alcohol (v/v); 0.03-0.04 milliliters daily of fluid extract (1:1 gram per milliliter); 0.15-0.2 milliliter daily of tincture (1:5 gram per milliliter); 2.6-4.2 milligrams daily of a dried extract (9.5-11.5:1 w/w); or 0.5-1.0 grams of dried fruit taken three times daily.
  • Children (younger than 18 years):

    • There is no proven safe or effective dose for chasteberry in children.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

  • Allergies

    • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to members of the Vitex (Verbenaceae) family or any chasteberry components. Mild skin reactions have been reported in clinical trials including eczema, itching, rash, skin eruptions, urticaria (hives) and allergic exanthema.
  • Side Effects and Warnings

    • Chasteberry is likely safe when used orally in otherwise healthy adults using appropriate doses for the short-term alleviation of signs and symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or hyperprolactinemia (elevated serum prolactin levels). Chasteberry appears to be generally well tolerated with few adverse events reported. In an observational trial of 551 patients, approximately 5% experienced side effects, which were primarily mild. However, there are no currently no available studies evaluating the long-term effects of chasteberry.
    • Rare occurrences of the following side effects have been reported: acne, alopecia (hair loss), eczema, itching, rash, skin eruptions, urticaria (“hives”), headache, vertigo, seizure, drowsiness, agitation, fatigue, sweating and dry mouth, depressed mood, increased intra-ocular pressure, tachycardia (fast heart rate), palpitations, circulatory disorders, pulmonary edema (lung swelling), diarrhea, nausea, gas/flatulence, heartburn, and vomiting, altered gonadotropin and ovarian hormone levels, hot flashes, mastalgia (breast pain), cycle changes, fibroid growth and weight gain, polyuria (frequent urination), menstrual bleeding, vaginitis (inflamed vagina), pelvic disease, and nosebleed.
    • Nevertheless, use cautiously in patients taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy.
    • Use cautiously in patients taking dopamine agonists or antagonists. Additionally, caution is advised in patients with Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses of the central nervous systems as medications used for these conditions often affect dopamine and taking them with chasteberry may increase effects and side effects.
    • Avoid using in patients with hormone sensitive cancers or conditions, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and in women undergoing in vitro fertilization.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    • Except under strict medical supervision, chasteberry should not be used in pregnancy due to potential uterine stimulatory properties. Some clinicians have used chasteberry in progesterone deficient women during their first trimester to prevent miscarriage, but it is not known if chasteberry is helpful or safe for this indication.
    • Chasteberry is not recommended in breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. Chasteberry competitively binds to dopamine receptors and has been shown to affect prolactin secretion, possibly resulting in decreased breast milk production. However, some clinicians actually use low doses to stimulate milk production with some reported benefits.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • Interactions with Drugs

    • Chasteberry has been shown to bind to D-2 receptors and therefore may alter dopaminergic effects. Caution is advised in patients with Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses of the central nervous systems as medications used for these conditions often affect dopamine and taking them with chasteberry may increase effects and side effects.
    • Chasteberry may increase plasma levels of estrogens and progesterone. Caution is advised in patients taking birth control pills or other agents that alter hormones, such as hormone replacement therapy.
  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

    • Chasteberry has been shown to bind to D-2 receptors and therefore may alter dopaminergic effects. Caution is advised in patients with Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses of the central nervous systems as medications used for these conditions often affect dopamine and taking them with chasteberry may increase effects and side effects.
    • Chasteberry may increase plasma levels of estrogens and progesterone. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that may also alter hormone levels due to possible adverse effects.

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

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    View Abstract