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 declared to deal with infertility and to decrease signs that might take place before or throughout a lady’s menstrual period, such as headaches and irregular bleeding. Monk’s pepper may affect levels of reproductive hormonal agents in the blood. It is a kind of phytomedicine. Also called chaste tree berry and vitex. (1 )

Further overview

Order: mint order of blooming plants (lamiales).

Family: mint family (lamiaceae).

Subfamily: viticoideae.

Genus: vitex.

Origin and distribution:

Mediterranean region throughout southwest asia towards krim and as much as pakistan.

Effective active 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– also when it comes to 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 comes from the truth that the medical plant was believed to decrease the sex drive in the middle ages. According to medieval sources, they were used as an anaphrodisiac, i.e. The reverse of an aphrodisiac. Monks are stated to have eaten the monk’s pepper fruits and slept on the leaves of the plant to decrease their libido and to reduce 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 equates something like “virginal lamb”. Nevertheless, scientific research on female clients has actually not verified the purported anaphrodisiac impact (reduction of the sex drive) of monk’s pepper fruit.

Ingredients and effect of monk’s pepper

Vitex agnus-castus contains, among others, vital oils, diterpenes, flavonoids and iridoid glycosides (for example, aucubin and agnuside). Extracts from the dried fruit of the medicinal plant are used for herbal solutions. These reduce the release of the prolactin hormone, maybe through a dopamin associated mechanism of action. Prolactin is responsible for the growth of the female breasts during pregnancy. Throughout the breastfeeding duration, prolactin makes sure that breast milk is produced. Researchers have been able to show that pms syndrome and an irregular cycle in females may be connected with an increased level of prolactin. (3 ).

In addition

Chastetree is a non-native shrub or tree which does best in hot weather. In cooler climates, it can be severely pruned to the ground and will normally regrow. It can suffer winter season dieback or will die to the ground in usda zones 5 and 6; however, the roots frequently survive and rise several feet of new growth the list below year. Pruning can be done in early spring as blooming happens on new wood. Due to this characteristic, dieback will not impact flowering. Prune faded flowers to promote continuous flowering. Blooming will be more spectacular if the plant is heavily pruned after blooming.

This tree is resistant to damage by deer and is reasonably salt tolerant. It has great drought tolerance once established. It freely reseeds and can become weedy.

In warmer climates, it can be trained to grow as a little, single trunk tree or a large shrub. Although usually 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 growth rate can add up to 24 inches annually in height.

Some smaller sized 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 tall as 25 to 30 feet with the very same spread. There are likewise many cultivars of numerous sizes in between.

This plant has the possible to become intrusive, specifically in southern areas of the nation. Its dry fruit can be a litter issue.

Bugs, illness, and other plant issues: thrips can cause damage. It is the only recognized host for hyalesthus obsoletus and can be used as a biological control agent by planting it around vineyards to trap this cicada. Root rot can occur in too moist soils. (4 ).

Enhances conditions impacting women’s reproductive systems

Vitex agnus-castus is especially understood for its capability to improve conditions affecting a lady’s reproductive system.

Alleviates signs of premenstrual syndrome (pms)

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

These include:.

  • Irregularity
  • Irritability
  • Depressed mood
  • Migraines
  • Breast pain and inflammation

Scientists believe that vitex works by reducing levels of the hormone prolactin. This helps rebalance other hormones, including estrogen and progesterone– hence decreasing pms symptoms.

In one research study, women with pms took vitex agnus-castus throughout three consecutive menstruations. In total, 93 percent of those provided vitex reported a decrease in pms symptoms, including:.

  • Anxiety
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Cravings

However, the research study didn’t consist of a control group, and placebo results can’t be ruled out.

In two smaller studies, females with pms were provided 20 mg of vitex agnus-castus each day or a placebo for three menstrual cycles.

Twice as lots of women in the vitex group reported a decrease in symptoms including irritation, mood swings, headaches and breast fullness, compared to those given the placebo.

Vitex agnus-castus also appears to help reduce cyclic mastalgia, a kind of breast pain connected to menstruation. Research recommends that it may be as effective as common drug treatment– but with far fewer side effects.

However, two recent reviews report that although vitex appears helpful in reducing pms symptoms, its benefits might be overestimated.

Better-designed studies may be required previously strong conclusions can be made.

May reduce menopause symptoms

The hormone-balancing effects of vitex agnus-castus may also assist ease signs of menopause.

In one study, vitex oils were provided to 23 ladies in menopause. Women reported enhanced menopause signs, consisting of better state of mind and sleep. Some even regained their period.

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

However, not all research studies have observed advantages. One recent and bigger double-blind, randomized, controlled trial– the gold requirement in research– offered women a placebo or a daily tablet including a combination of vitex and st. John’s wort.

After 16 weeks, the vitex supplement disappeared reliable than the placebo at reducing hot flashes, depression or any other menopausal signs.

Keep in mind that in lots of research studies reporting advantages, women were offered with supplements that combined vitex agnus-castus with other herbs. For that reason, it’s difficult to isolate the impacts of vitex alone.

May enhance fertility

Vitex may improve female fertility due to its possible effect on prolactin levels.

This may be specifically real in women with luteal phase problem, or a shortened 2nd half of the menstruation. This disorder is connected to unusually high prolactin levels and makes it tough for ladies to become pregnant.

In one research study, 40 women with unusually high prolactin levels were provided either 40 mg of vitex agnus-castus or a pharmaceutical drug. Vitex was as effective as the drug in reducing prolactin levels.

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

Yet another study offered 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, females in the vitex group experienced an improved hormonal agent balance– and 26 percent of them became pregnant. In comparison, only 10 percent of those in the placebo group conceived.

Keep in mind that the supplement held a mix of other components, making it challenging to isolate the impacts of vitex.

Irregular periods can also hamper females in planning a pregnancy. Three extra studies report that vitex is more efficient than a placebo in improving menstruations in females with irregular durations.


Vitex agnus-castus may decrease signs of pms and menopause, though study outcomes are combined. By possibly decreasing prolactin hormonal agent levels and supporting menstrual durations, it might also enhance fertility.

Helps prevent insect bites

Vitex may also assist keep a variety of pests at bay.

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

Another study revealed that a spray including vitex and other plant extracts safeguarded versus head lice for a minimum of 7 hours.

Research even more reveals that vitex may eliminate lice larva and hinder adult lice reproduction.


Vitex agnus-castus may offer some security versus insects, particularly mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas, and head lice.

Other prospective advantages

Vitex might also use a variety of fringe benefits, consisting of:.

Decreased headaches. In one research study, women vulnerable to migraines offered vitex daily for 3 months lowered the variety of headaches they experienced during their menstrual cycles by 66 percent (28trusted source). Nevertheless, the study didn’t consist of a control group, making it difficult to know whether vitex was responsible for these benefits.

Antibacterial and antifungal effects. Test-tube studies show that vital oils made from vitex may battle harmful fungi and bacteria, consisting of staphylococcus and salmonella germs (29trusted source, 30trusted source). Keep in mind that vital oils need to not be consumed, and vitex supplements are unlikely to lower the threat of infections.

Reduced swelling. Test-tube and animal studies recommend that substances in vitex may have anti-inflammatory homes. However, their effects aren’t stronger than those of aspirin.

Bone repair. In one research study, women with bone fractures given a mix of vitex and magnesium had actually somewhat increased markers for bone repair work than those given a placebo.

Epilepsy prevention. Animal studies suggest that vitex might reduce the possibility of epileptic seizures.

That stated, research study supporting these benefits is limited. More studies are needed before strong conclusions can be drawn.


Vitex may offer multiple other benefits, but the evidence is weak. More research is required prior to any claims can be made.

Typical myths

Vitex has actually been traditionally utilized to deal with a wide array of conditions. Nevertheless, a lot of its uses are currently unsupported by clinical proof.

The most popular unverified uses include:

Breastfeeding. While an old research study postulated that vitex might increase milk supply in nursing ladies, the general proof is weak and controversial.

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

Treating endometriosis. Vitex may normalize hormonal imbalances, which might in theory reduce signs of endometriosis, a female gynecologic condition. Nevertheless, no studies validate this.

Baldness avoidance. The hormone-balancing effects of vitex are sometimes declared to increase hair growth in men. However, no research can be discovered to support this claim.

Acne treatment. 3 studies assert that vitex may reduce acne faster than standard treatments. Nevertheless, these research studies are years old. Newer research hasn’t confirmed these impacts.


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

Inadequate proof to rate effectiveness for …

Bleeding. Research suggests that taking vitex agnus-castus 3 times daily from the first daily of menstruation up until day 8 of the cycle for four cycles reduces bleeding triggered by an intrauterine device.

Persistent breast pain. Early research recommends that vitex agnus-castus alone or in a service including vitex agnus-castus plus 5 other herbs (mastodynon, bionorica ag) may alleviate frequent breast discomfort. Other early research study recommends that taking vitex agnus-castus daily for 3 months is as reliable for decreasing breast pain as the medication flurbiprofen.

  • Enlarged prostate.
  • Eye discomfort.
  • Increasing lactation.
  • Menopausal symptoms.
  • Avoidance of miscarriage.
  • Other conditions.

Possibly inefficient for …

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


The berry of the chaste tree includes a number of active constituents: flavonoids (i.e., casticin, kaempferol, orientin, quercetagetin, and isovitexin), iridoid glycosides (i.e., agnuside and aucubin), and important oils (i.e., limonene, cineol, pinene, and sabinene). Chasteberry reveals main dopaminergic activity in vitro and in vivo. This dopaminergic result inhibits basal- and thyrotropin-releasing hormone– stimulated prolactin release.

Chasteberry’s healing effects are attributed to its indirect results on numerous hormones, particularly prolactin and progesterone. This hormone effect appears to be dose-dependent: low doses of extract have resulted in decreased estrogen levels and increased progesterone and prolactin levels, perhaps triggered by an inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (fsh) and stimulation of luteinizing hormone (lh) levels. Nevertheless, in some studies of persons receiving higher dosages, fsh and lh levels remained the same, while prolactin release was reduced. These effects might describe why lower doses of the herb may promote breast milk production, whereas greater doses seem to have the opposite result. (7 ).

Severe side effects of chasteberry– the mediterranean herb

1. May trigger acne

Acne is amongst the most typical unfavorable effects of chasteberry. The herb also causes an erythematous rash, which is inflammation of the skin identified by increased blood flow to the shallow capillaries.

2. May cause an indigestion

Though not serious, making use of chasteberry might cause an upset stomach. Other related gastrointestinal complaints may include queasiness. However, this is only based upon anecdotal proof, and research study has not established this reality.

3. Can lead to problems during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Using chasteberry during pregnancy and breastfeeding is questionable. There is poor proof to support if making use of chasteberry during pregnancy can in fact avoid miscarriages.

Though in particular little research studies, making use of chasteberry seemed to assist achieve pregnancy, its usage during pregnancy and breastfeeding is thoroughly dissuaded as its effect on babies has not been well documented.

4. May cause issues throughout breast cancer

Chasterry has phytoestrogenic properties. It can simulate the results of estrogen in the body, a hormonal agent that contributes in the advancement of females’s breasts. This way, it may disrupt specific cancers. For this reason, individuals with hormone-sensitive cancers, like that of the breast, must consult their medical professional prior to utilizing it.

5. Can hinder specific drugs and therapies

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

Chasteberry can likewise interfere with progesterone, a hormonal agent utilized in hormonal agent replacement therapy. For this reason, women undergoing treatment needs to stay away from the herb and speak with their physician. (8 ).

You need to only take chasteberry under the supervision of your healthcare supplier. Although uncommon, chasteberry does produce adverse effects in some taking it, consisting of lightheadedness, acne-like rash, stomach upset, diarrhea, weight gain, insomnia, hair loss, headache and heavy menstrual periods. It can cause an allergic reaction. Notify your physician instantly if you develop hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the mouth and face while taking chasteberry. (9 ).

Just how much do we know?

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

What have we found out?

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

Researchers have actually studied chasteberry for infertility in women, however there isn’t adequate trustworthy proof to understand if it assists.

What do we know about safety?

When used in limited amounts, chasteberry seems usually well tolerated. Negative effects are typically mild, and might consist of nausea, headache, gastrointestinal disruptions, or itching.

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

It might not be safe for females 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 birth control pills, substance abuse to deal with parkinson’s disease, and substance abuse to deal with psychosis. If you’re taking medication, talk with your health care company prior to using chasteberry.

Bear in mind

Take charge of your health– talk with your health care suppliers about any complementary health methods you utilize. Together, you can make shared, well-informed choices. (10 ).

What are the safety measures when taking this item?

  • Constantly talk to your physician prior to you use a natural item. Some items may not mix well with drugs or other natural products.
  • Do not utilize this item if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon. Usage contraception you can rely on while taking this item.
  • Do not breastfeed while using this item.
  • Do not use this item if you have illness that are sensitive to hormonal agents. These are issues like breast cancer and prostate cancer.
  • Take extra care if you are taking drugs that contain hormones. These are drugs like contraceptive pill and hormonal agent replacement therapy.
  • Take extra care if you are taking drugs that impact dopamine levels. These are drugs like levodopa-carbidopa (sinemet), ropinirole (requip), and pramipexole (mirapex).

Take extra care and consult your doctor if you have:

  • Psychological health conditions
  • Parkinson disease
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Cancer

What should I expect?

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

When do I require to call the medical professional?

Indications of an extremely 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 immediately.

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

Modifications in menstrual periods like lots of bleeding, spotting, or bleeding between cycles. (11 ).

Indicate note

Don’t use chaste tree if you take any medicines, herbs, or other supplements. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist initially.

Chaste tree can be found in the kind of casts, capsules, and liquid extracts. Follow the guidelines on the plan for the proper dosage. (12 ).


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