Chaste Tree (Vitex)

Latin name: Vitex agnus-castus

Common names:  Chaste Berry, Monk’s Pepper

Ayurvedic names: Indrani

Chinese names: Jing li, Sheng ji mei, Zhen jie shu; Huang jing zi, Huangjing (Vitex negundo)

Bangladesh names: Nishinda

Arabic names:    شجرة العفه (shajarat al’iffah)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Verbenaceae (Verbena)

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Fruit

Collection: Autumn (berries ripe)

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 12 to 15 feet

Actions: Emmenegogue, tonic, prolactin inhibitor, dopamine agonist, galactagogue

Known Constituents: Iridoid glycosides including aucbin (.3%) and agnoside (.6%), flavanoids including casticin, isovitexin and orientin, essential oil including monoterpens and sesquiterpens, methoxylated flavones including casticin

Constituents Explained:


height: a shrub that grows 3-5m

It was once indigenous to Europe, but is now used in many places round the world.  Th eberries are a black sphere, are about 5mm in size and contain 4 seeds. The fruit is brownish to brlack.

Traditional Use:

Thought of primarily as a herb for the pituarity gland, particulary to stimulate the connection between the pituarity gland and the ovaries.  It corrects progesteron defienecy via a dopaminergic activity on the anterior pituarity, which inhibits prolactin.7

A powerful hormone regulator, it is sometimes used as an aphordiasiac, and othertimes an anaphordiasiac, meaning it helps the body regulate to its natural levels.

Because of its normalizing action on female hormones it is A popularised herb used for female complaints, especially to regulate menstraution and symptoms of premenstrual sydrome (PMS).  Some of the symptoms its emnployed for include headache, breast tenderness and acne outbreak.

Used to enhance fertility, and to help a regular menstrual cycle continue and thus delay menopause.  It’s used for premenstrual syndome sympotms such as dizziness, headaches, cravings and fluid retention.7

Believed to have a progesteone effect on the body.  Its often used to treat acne when these are linked to higher than usual male hormone levels.  Part of its positive effects are believed to be due to its ability to act on the pituarity gland.

There is a legened that in the 16th centruy make monks chewed the berry to lower their sex drive.

It was referred to in the great Greek poet Homers poem ‘Illiad’ as a herb that will ‘keep evils at bay.’

Also used to help the body return to normal when no longer taking the birth control pill.   Even though it is thought of by many as a ‘female’ herb, it has been used by men too.7

Clinical Studies:

Medical therapies have been widely used for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but in all of them side effects are predominant. Herbal remedies rarely have side effects and people have more tendencies toward them than chemical therapies. 

In a study, the therapeutic effect of Vitex agnus castus on women who had the PMS, in comparison with placebo, were investigated. In this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study, from 134 selected patients 128 women suffered from PMS were evaluated.

All patients answered to a self assessment questionnaire about their headache, anger, irritability, depression, breast fullness and bloating and tympani during the premenstrual period before the study. 

Forty drops of Vitex agnus extract or matching placebo, administrated for 6 days before menses for 6 consecutive cycles. Patients answered the self-assessment questionnaires after 6 menstrual cycles, again.

Each item rated using a visual analogue scale (VAS). The mean age was 30.77 years in the active group and 30.89 years in the placebo group. Rank of variables had significantly difference in active and placebo group before and after the study. Also, a significant differences on the use of Vitex agnus in comparison with placebo was noticed.

Vitex agnus can be considered as an effective and well tolerated treatment for the relief of symptoms of mild and moderate PMS. 

In a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind study the efficacy of a Vitex agnus castus extract-containing solution (VACS) was investigated in patients suffering from cyclical mastalgia. 

Patients had mastalgia on at least 5 days in the pre-treatment cycle. During this cycle and during treatment (3 cycles; 2 x 30 drops/day), the intensity of mastalgia was recorded once per cycle using a visual analogue scale.

After one/two treatment cycles, the mean decrease in pain intensity is higher in women taking VACS  than in placebo group. The differences of the VAS-values for VACS were significantly greater than those with placebo.

There was no difference in the frequency of adverse events between both groups and VACS appears effective and was well tolerated.


Zamani M, Neghab N, Torabian S. “Therapeutic Effect Of Vitex Agnus Castus In Patients With Premenstrual Syndrome.” 2012

Halaska M, Beles P, Gorkow C, Sieder C. “Treatment Of Cyclical Mastalgia With A Solution Containing A Vitex Agnus Castus Extract: Results Of A Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Study.” 1999 August.