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Monk’s pepper


    An extract made from the fruit of the chaste tree (vitex agnus-castus) discovered in parts of asia and europe. It is claimed to treat infertility and to reduce symptoms that may take place before or during a lady’s menstrual duration, such as headaches and irregular bleeding. Monk’s pepper may impact levels of reproductive hormonal agents in the blood. It is a type of phytomedicine. Also called chaste tree berry and vitex. (1 )

    More introduction

    Order: mint order of blooming plants (lamiales).

    Family: mint family (lamiaceae).

    Subfamily: viticoideae.

    Genus: vitex.

    Origin and distribution:

    Mediterranean area across southwest asia towards krim and as much as pakistan.

    Reliable ingredients:

    Important oil, flavonoids, iridoid glycosides, sesquiterpenes, triterpenes (2 ).

    Chasteberry, monk’s pepper, agnus castus– the history of the plant names

    There are typically intriguing stories behind the name of a plant– likewise in the case of monk’s pepper. The part of the name “pepper” stems from the fruit, which appear like peppercorns and taste hot. But why “monk”? This name most likely originates from the truth that the medicinal plant was believed to reduce the libido in the center ages. According to medieval sources, they were utilized as an anaphrodisiac, i.e. The reverse of an aphrodisiac. Monks are stated to have actually eaten the monk’s pepper fruits and slept on the leaves of the plant to diminish their libido and to suppress the “wicked sins of the flesh”. This is also shown in traditional names of the plant such as chaste tree or chasteberry. The latin name agnus castus has a comparable meaning and translates something like “virginal lamb”. However, scientific research study on female clients has actually not verified the purported anaphrodisiac result (decrease of the libido) of monk’s pepper fruit.

    Components and effect of monk’s pepper

    Vitex agnus-castus contains, among others, necessary oils, diterpenes, flavonoids and iridoid glycosides (for instance, aucubin and agnuside). Extracts from the dried fruit of the medicinal plant are used for organic solutions. These reduce the release of the prolactin hormonal agent, perhaps by means of a dopamin related system of action. Prolactin is accountable for the development of the female breasts during pregnancy. During the breastfeeding duration, prolactin ensures that breast milk is produced. Scientists have actually had the ability to reveal that pms syndrome and an irregular cycle in females might be connected with an increased level of prolactin. (3 ).


    Chastetree is a non-native shrub or tree which does best in hot weather. In cooler environments, it can be seriously pruned to the ground and will typically regrow. It can suffer winter dieback or will die to the ground in usda zones 5 and 6; however, the roots frequently make it through and rise several feet of brand-new development the list below year. Pruning can be done in early spring as flowering occurs on brand-new wood. Due to this characteristic, dieback will not impact blooming. Prune faded flowers to promote continuous blooming. Flowering will be more amazing if the plant is heavily pruned after blooming.

    This tree is resistant to damage by deer and is reasonably salt tolerant. It has excellent drought tolerance once developed. It freely reseeds and can end up being weedy.

    In warmer environments, it can be trained to grow as a little, single trunk tree or a big shrub. Although generally grown as a 10-15 foot shrub, in tree form it can reach heights of as much as 20 feet. This long-lived specimen’s quick development rate can add up to 24 inches per year in height.

    Some smaller cultivars like ‘blue diddley’ and ‘blue puffball’ can be grown as 3 to 6 foot shrubs; other cultivars such as ‘cooke’s blue’, ‘cooke’s pink’, or ‘cooke’s purple’ can grow as high as 25 to 30 feet with the same spread. There are also lots of cultivars of various sizes in between.

    This plant has the potential to end up being invasive, specifically in southern locations of the country. Its dry fruit can be a litter problem.

    Insects, diseases, and other plant problems: thrips can cause damage. It is the only known host for hyalesthus obsoletus and can be utilized as a biological control representative by planting it around vineyards to trap this cicada. Root rot can take place in too moist soils. (4 ).

    Enhances conditions impacting females’s reproductive systems

    Vitex agnus-castus is especially known for its ability to improve conditions affecting a woman’s reproductive system.

    Eases signs of premenstrual syndrome (pms)

    One of the most popular and well-researched characteristics of vitex agnus-castus is its ability to decrease signs of pms.

    These include:.

    • Constipation
    • Irritability
    • Depressed state of mind
    • Migraines
    • Breast discomfort and inflammation

    Scientists think that vitex works by reducing levels of the hormone prolactin. This assists rebalance other hormonal agents, including estrogen and progesterone– thus reducing pms signs.

    In one study, women with pms took vitex agnus-castus during 3 successive menstrual cycles. In overall, 93 percent of those offered vitex reported a decline in pms symptoms, including:.

    • Anxiety
    • Anxiety
    • Cravings

    However, the research study didn’t include a control group, and placebo impacts can’t be dismissed.

    In 2 smaller sized research studies, females with pms were provided 20 mg of vitex agnus-castus daily or a placebo for 3 menstruations.

    Two times as many ladies in the vitex group reported a reduction in signs including irritability, state of mind swings, headaches and breast fullness, compared to those provided the placebo.

    Vitex agnus-castus likewise appears to help reduce cyclic mastalgia, a kind of breast discomfort connected to menstruation. Research recommends that it might be as efficient as common drug treatment– however with far fewer adverse effects.

    Nevertheless, 2 recent evaluations report that although vitex appears handy in lowering pms signs, its advantages might be overstated.

    Better-designed studies may be required in the past strong conclusions can be made.

    May reduce menopause symptoms

    The hormone-balancing results of vitex agnus-castus might also help alleviate symptoms of menopause.

    In one study, vitex oils were offered to 23 females in menopause. Females reported enhanced menopause signs, consisting of much better mood and sleep. Some even regained their period.

    In a follow-up research study 52 additional pre- and postmenopausal women were offered a vitex cream. Of the research study individuals, 33 percent experienced significant improvements, and another 36 percent reported moderate improvements in signs, including night sweats and hot flashes.

    Nevertheless, not all studies have observed advantages. One current and larger double-blind, randomized, controlled trial– the gold standard in research study– offered women a placebo or an everyday tablet containing a mix of vitex and st. John’s wort.

    After 16 weeks, the vitex supplement was no more efficient than the placebo at reducing hot flashes, depression or any other menopausal symptoms.

    Remember that in numerous studies reporting advantages, females were supplied with supplements that combined vitex agnus-castus with other herbs. For that reason, it’s tough to separate the effects of vitex alone.

    Might enhance fertility

    Vitex might improve female fertility due to its possible impact on prolactin levels.

    This may be particularly real in ladies with luteal phase defect, or a shortened 2nd half of the menstrual cycle. This disorder is connected to unusually high prolactin levels and makes it tough for females to become pregnant.

    In one research study, 40 ladies with abnormally high prolactin levels were given either 40 mg of vitex agnus-castus or a pharmaceutical drug. Vitex was as reliable as the drug in minimizing prolactin levels.

    In another study in 52 females with luteal phase flaw, 20 mg of vitex led to lower prolactin levels and prolonged menstrual stages, while individuals offered a placebo saw no benefit.

    Yet another research study gave 93 ladies– who had actually unsuccessfully tried to become pregnant over the last 6– 36 months– a supplement including vitex agnus-castus or a placebo.

    After 3 months, ladies in the vitex group experienced an enhanced hormone balance– and 26 percent of them conceived. In contrast, just 10 percent of those in the placebo group conceived.

    Keep in mind that the supplement held a mix of other ingredients, making it difficult to separate the results of vitex.

    Irregular periods can also obstruct ladies in planning a pregnancy. Three additional studies report that vitex is more reliable than a placebo in enhancing menstruations in females with irregular durations.


    Vitex agnus-castus might decrease symptoms of pms and menopause, though research study outcomes are mixed. By possibly reducing prolactin hormonal agent levels and stabilizing menstrual durations, it might also boost fertility.

    Helps prevent insect bites

    Vitex may also help keep a variety of insects at bay.

    In one study, an extract made from vitex seeds assisted drive away mosquitoes, flies, ticks, and fleas for about 6 hours.

    Another research study exposed that a spray containing vitex and other plant extracts safeguarded against head lice for at least seven hours.

    Research study further shows that vitex might eliminate lice larva and hamper adult lice reproduction.


    Vitex agnus-castus may provide some defense versus pests, especially mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas, and head lice.

    Other possible benefits

    Vitex may likewise use a series of fringe benefits, consisting of:.

    Minimized headaches. In one research study, ladies susceptible to migraines given vitex daily for three months decreased the number of headaches they experienced throughout their menstruations by 66 percent (28trusted source). However, the study didn’t consist of a control group, making it difficult to understand whether vitex was accountable for these benefits.

    Antibacterial and antifungal effects. Test-tube studies reveal that vital oils made from vitex may combat harmful fungi and bacteria, including staphylococcus and salmonella germs (29trusted source, 30trusted source). Remember that vital oils must not be taken in, and vitex supplements are unlikely to minimize the risk of infections.

    Minimized swelling. Test-tube and animal studies recommend that compounds in vitex might have anti-inflammatory homes. However, their impacts aren’t more powerful than those of aspirin.

    Bone repair work. In one study, ladies with bone fractures provided a mix of vitex and magnesium had actually a little increased markers for bone repair work than those offered a placebo.

    Epilepsy avoidance. Animal studies suggest that vitex might lower the probability of epileptic seizures.

    That said, research study supporting these advantages is restricted. More research studies are required prior to strong conclusions can be drawn.


    Vitex may use numerous other advantages, however the evidence is weak. More research is required prior to any claims can be made.

    Common misconceptions

    Vitex has been generally used to treat a variety of conditions. However, much of its uses are presently unsupported by clinical evidence.

    The most popular unsubstantiated uses consist of:

    Breastfeeding. While an old study postulated that vitex may boost milk supply in nursing ladies, the overall evidence is weak and questionable.

    Discomfort decrease. Though research links vitex to numbed discomfort receptors in rats, no human research studies have been done.

    Treating endometriosis. Vitex might normalize hormone imbalances, which might in theory reduce signs of endometriosis, a female gynecologic disorder. However, no studies validate this.

    Baldness prevention. The hormone-balancing impacts of vitex are sometimes declared to increase hair development in men. Nevertheless, no research can be discovered to support this claim.

    Acne treatment. Three research studies assert that vitex might decrease acne faster than traditional treatments. However, these studies are years old. More recent research study hasn’t confirmed these impacts.


    While vitex agnus-castus is used as an alternative solution to deal with numerous signs, many purported benefits are not backed by research. (5 ).

    Inadequate proof to rate efficiency for …

    Bleeding. Research suggests that taking vitex agnus-castus three times daily from the first daily of menstruation till day 8 of the cycle for 4 cycles reduces bleeding triggered by an intrauterine device.

    Frequent breast discomfort. Early research suggests that vitex agnus-castus alone or in an option including vitex agnus-castus plus 5 other herbs (mastodynon, bionorica ag) may ease frequent breast discomfort. Other early research study suggests that taking vitex agnus-castus daily for 3 months is as effective for reducing breast discomfort as the medication flurbiprofen.

    • Bigger prostate.
    • Eye pain.
    • Increasing lactation.
    • Menopausal symptoms.
    • Avoidance of miscarriage.
    • Other conditions.

    Perhaps inadequate for …

    Fractures. Research study recommends that taking a particular vitex agnus-castus extract (agnugol, goldaru drug store business, isfanhan, iran) alone or together with magnesium oxide (nature made company, usa) daily for 8 weeks does not enhance bone fracture recovery in women. (6 ).


    The berry of the chaste tree contains a variety of active constituents: flavonoids (i.e., casticin, kaempferol, orientin, quercetagetin, and isovitexin), iridoid glycosides (i.e., agnuside and aucubin), and vital oils (i.e., limonene, cineol, pinene, and sabinene). Chasteberry reveals central dopaminergic activity in vitro and in vivo. This dopaminergic impact prevents basal- and thyrotropin-releasing hormonal agent– promoted prolactin release.

    Chasteberry’s therapeutic effects are credited to its indirect results on numerous hormones, especially prolactin and progesterone. This hormonal result appears to be dose-dependent: low dosages of extract have actually resulted in decreased estrogen levels and increased progesterone and prolactin levels, potentially brought on by an inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormonal agent (fsh) and stimulation of luteinizing hormone (lh) levels. However, in some studies of persons getting higher dosages, fsh and lh levels stayed unchanged, while prolactin release was decreased. These results might discuss why lower doses of the herb might stimulate breast milk production, whereas greater doses appear to have the opposite result. (7 ).

    Serious side effects of chasteberry– the mediterranean herb

    1. May trigger acne

    Acne is among the most typical negative effects of chasteberry. The herb likewise causes an erythematous rash, which is soreness of the skin defined by increased blood circulation to the shallow blood vessels.

    2. May trigger an indigestion

    Though not serious, making use of chasteberry might trigger an upset stomach. Other related intestinal problems may include nausea. Nevertheless, this is only based on anecdotal proof, and research study has not established this truth.

    3. Can cause issues during pregnancy and breastfeeding

    Making use of chasteberry during pregnancy and breastfeeding is controversial. There is poor proof to support if using chasteberry during pregnancy can in fact prevent miscarriages.

    Though in certain small studies, using chasteberry seemed to help accomplish pregnancy, its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding is completely prevented as its result on infants has not been well documented.

    4. May cause problems during breast cancer

    Chasterry has phytoestrogenic homes. It can simulate the impacts of estrogen in the body, a hormonal agent that plays a role in the development of ladies’s breasts. In this manner, it may disrupt certain cancers. For this reason, people with hormone-sensitive cancers, like that of the breast, must consult their physician prior to utilizing it.

    5. Can interfere with particular drugs and treatments

    Chasteberry can disrupt contraceptive pill. It is known to promote fertility, and the herb might not be a great option if you are looking for contraception.

    Chasteberry can also interrupt progesterone, a hormone used in hormone replacement therapy. Hence, females going through therapy should avoid the herb and speak to their physician. (8 ).

    You ought to only take chasteberry under the supervision of your health care supplier. Although rare, chasteberry does produce adverse effects in some taking it, including lightheadedness, acne-like rash, indigestion, diarrhea, weight gain, sleeping disorders, hair loss, headache and heavy menstrual durations. It can cause an allergy. Notify your doctor instantly if you establish hives, trouble breathing, and swelling of the mouth and face while taking chasteberry. (9 ).

    Just how much do we understand?

    There’s not a great deal of strong research on the efficiency of chasteberry for any condition. We do have some clear safety details on the herb.

    What have we found out?

    Preliminary studies suggest that chasteberry might be useful for symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and for breast discomfort related to the menstruation, but the evidence is not conclusive.

    Scientists have actually studied chasteberry for infertility in ladies, however there isn’t enough trustworthy evidence to understand if it assists.

    What do we know about security?

    When utilized in restricted amounts, chasteberry seems typically well endured. Adverse effects are generally moderate, and might include queasiness, headache, intestinal disturbances, or itching.

    Taking chasteberry during pregnancy or while breastfeeding may not be safe.

    It might not be safe for ladies with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer, to take this herb. It’s possible that chasteberry may interact with some medications, such as contraceptive pill, drugs used to deal with parkinson’s illness, and substance abuse to deal with psychosis. If you’re taking medication, talk with your health care supplier prior to utilizing chasteberry.

    Bear in mind

    Organize your health– talk with your healthcare suppliers about any complementary health techniques you utilize. Together, you can make shared, knowledgeable choices. (10 ).

    What are the preventative measures when taking this product?

    • Always consult your medical professional prior to you utilize a natural product. Some items might not blend well with drugs or other natural items.
    • Do not utilize this item if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon. Use contraception you can rely on while taking this product.
    • Do not breastfeed while using this item.
    • Do not utilize this item if you have health problems that are sensitive to hormones. These are problems like breast cancer and prostate cancer.
    • Take additional care if you are taking drugs which contain hormonal agents. These are drugs like contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy.
    • Take extra care if you are taking drugs that affect dopamine levels. These are drugs like levodopa-carbidopa (sinemet), ropinirole (requip), and pramipexole (mirapex).

    Take additional care and contact your physician if you have:

    • Psychological health conditions
    • Parkinson illness
    • Agitated legs syndrome
    • Cancer

    What should I watch for?

    • Upset stomach
    • Tiredness
    • Acne
    • Modifications in sexual capability or desire
    • Rash

    When do I require to call the doctor?

    Signs of a really bad reaction. These include wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat. Go to the right now.

    • Extremely bad throwing up
    • Really bad loose stools
    • Extremely bad headache

    Modifications in menstrual durations like great deals of bleeding, spotting, or bleeding between cycles. (11 ).

    Point to keep in mind

    Do not use chaste tree if you take any medicines, herbs, or other supplements. Consult your doctor or pharmacist initially.

    Chaste tree comes in the form of casts, capsules, and liquid extracts. Follow the instructions on the bundle for the right dosage. (12 ).


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