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Uses and Side Effects of Chasteberry Extract

Sonia Nair
Derived from the berries of the plant Vitex agnus-castus, chasteberry extract is widely used as a herbal remedy for various ailments, especially those affecting women.
Chasteberry is a plant with aromatic leaves and flowers. Native to the Mediterranean region, this shrub is also found in certain parts of Africa and Asia. Chasteberry plant produces upright clusters of bluish violet flowers, and is often grown for ornamental purposes.
Though the leaves and flowers of chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) are used for medicinal purposes, the berries are highly valued for their therapeutic properties. The brownish berries resemble peppercorns in appearance, and are used both in fresh and dried form.
It is said that this plant has been used for medicinal purposes for a very long time. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans are believed to have used chasteberry for therapeutic purposes. Today, chasteberry is widely used in the form of liquid extract, powder, capsules, and tincture.

Uses and Benefits

Chasteberry is one of those plants, that have been used through the centuries for its so-called medicinal properties. The name chasteberry is derived from the ancient belief that this herb can reduce sexual desire, and thereby help to remain chaste.
It is said that the wives of ancient Roman soldiers used chasteberry for this purpose. Even the monks of the Middle Ages used chasteberry for the same purpose. That's why chasteberry is also known as monk's pepper.
The berries are consumed as such, or in the form of herbal tea. While there is no scientific evidence to prove that use of chasteberry is beneficial for reducing libido, it is also claimed that this herbal remedy is useful for increasing sexual desire.
Chasteberry is believed to be highly beneficial for treating gynecological problems, and so is referred to as the women's herb. It is said to be effective in countering premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and the related symptoms. It is used for treating heavy bleeding, breast pain, menstrual pain, and irregular cycles.
Chasteberry extract is also believed to be useful in treating hormonal imbalance in women. It is said that the flavonoids and alkaloids in this herb jointly act to maintain regular hormone levels. So, this herb is used for treating fibrocystic breasts, endometriosis, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Chasteberry is used for boosting progesterone levels, that is found to be hindered in women with PCOS and certain other gynecological conditions, like menopause. So, this herb is used for boosting fertility, preventing miscarriage, and treating recurrent yeast infections. Even high levels of prolactin (hyperprolactinemia) is treated with chasteberry extract.
It is also a popular herbal remedy for migraines, anxiety, depression, and prostate problems. While chasteberry is found to be useful for relieving the symptoms of PMS, its effectiveness in countering menopause symptoms, PCOS, and prostate problems, are still under evaluation.

Does Chasteberry Extract Cause Side Effects?

Even though chasteberry is not found to cause significant side effects in its users, some of them may experience mild itching and rashes. Other side effects include nausea, headache, and changes in the menstrual cycles. This extract must be avoided by pregnant women.
Those who are taking hormone replacement therapy, or other products with synthetic hormones (like birth control pills), must avoid chasteberry. It has also been noted that women with uterine or breast cancer should not use this herbal medicine.
In short, chasteberry is a herb that is being used for treating certain gynecological problems. Even though it is considered safe, it is always advisable to use chasteberry according to the instructions of a qualified herbal practitioner.
You may also seek the opinion of your physician before starting any treatment using chasteberry extract. Make sure to intimate the herbal practitioner about your medical history and the current medication.
Disclaimer: This story is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.