The oddly named chaste berry – also known as monk’s pepper – is likely given that name because of its effects on hormones. For men, that might mean a lower libido and a more ‘monk-like’ behaviour, for women, that could mean helping with symptoms of PMS and menopause.
What is chaste berry used for?
Chaste berry is most commonly used to treat hormonal-related issues in women, such as menstrual problems, and symptoms of menopause.
What’s the history of chaste berry?
Chaste berry comes from a shrub that comes from the Mediterranean and southern Asia, but now is also grown in southern states in the USA. The name – agnus castus – is from the Greek and means chaste. Monks in the middle ages apparently used the fruit to help them keep to their vow of celibacy. It was also used in ancient Greece to treat symptoms of PMS.
What’s the best way to take chaste berry?
Chaste berry comes in the form of tablet or capsule, liquid extract as well as an essential oil and also within cream. Of these chaste berry products, dried fruit extracts and dried herb/fruit have been researched and 30-40mg of dried fruit extract, 1g of the dried fruit per day are considered safe levels.
Essential oils should be inhaled using a carrier (oil) and not applied directly or undiluted to the skin.
Does chaste berry really work?
There are no large-scale controlled tests that show significant results for the efficacy of chasteberry in terms of relieving symptoms of menstruation, menopause or infertility. There has been one study, however, of more than 1000 participants that showed 93% of women found relief of PMS symptoms while taking a supplement. As this study didn’t have a control group (participants who took a placebo treatment), it’s difficult to say whether this effect was down to the chaste berry or simply placebo effect. Most of the research to date has been on the relief of PMS, rather than menopause.
Anecdotally, however, chaste berry – in the form of supplements and also cream-based treatment – does seem to help some people reduce the symptoms of menopause, reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
Researchers theorise that the berry contains active ingredients which reduce the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. This may help balance progesterone and oestrogen levels, possibly increasing luteinizing hormone, too. By adjusting hormonal levels in this way it could be that it helps relieve hormone-related symptoms in pre-menstrual women and menopausal women.
How long does chaste berry take to work?
According to anecdotal reports and product manufacturers, it can take around two weeks to notice a difference, and up to three months to achieve a full effect.
From two weeks and up to three months, for hormonally related problems. Many women report a reduction in PMS symptoms after just two weeks.
Where can I get chaste berry?
The dried fruit and extract in capsule or tablet form are available online and in healthfood shops.
What are the side effects of chaste berry?
There have been reports of upset stomach when ingesting chaste berry or rash when exposed directly to chaste berry. But these are rare.
Are there any contraindications when taking chaste berry?
As chaste berry may have an impact on your hormones, it’s essential you see your GP before taking it if you are undergoing any kind of hormonal treatment. Also, if you are taking antipsychotic drugs or medications for Parkinson’s disease you should check with your GP before taking chaste berry as it may interfere.
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