Vitex Agnus Castus goes by many names, including Chastetree Berry. The small tree is indigenous to the Mediterranean area, although it can grow in temperate areas worldwide. It is an attractive bush with finger-like leaves and thin violet, blue or pink flowers.
The fruit produced by this tree is a dark brown to black berry, about the size of a peppercorn, with a spicy pepper flavor. The Chaste Berry has a long history of use in folklore. In the ancient writings of Roman Naturalist, Pliny the Elder, the name Vitex is derived from the Latin word, “vieo” which refers to weaving, since the bark of the vitex tree was used to weave baskets. The reference to ‘Chaste’ is due to references that the plant was considered Sacred to the Virgin Goddess Hestia/Vesta. It was mentioned in the 4th century BC by Hippocrates, “ the father of modern medicine”, and was indicated in The King’s American Dispensary for female balance. Its common name reflects the belief that eating the fruit decreases the libido and allows for increased chastity.
During ancient Greek and Roman times, the Priestess of the Temple would eat the berries to lessen the libido. Another name for the plant, Monk’s Pepper, came from the use by medieval monks towards a similar goal. Although scientific studies do not support the herb’s ability to decrease sex drive, modern research shows that Chaste Berry has a regulating effect on female hormones. Chaste Berry has been the subject of in depth, placebo controlled double blind studies, which have uncovered some of the specific mechanisms of action that make it so useful as a remedy for the female cycle.
Please note that this herbal remedy is often called Agnus Castus, Vitex or Chaste Berry- it’s all the same herb.
Common herbal uses include preparing tea by pouring boiled water over a teaspoon of fresh or dried Chaste tree Berries, using a liquid extract, or taking as a capsule.
This herb is not recommended for use during pregnancy.