The chaste tree is native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. Its berries have long been used for a variety of abnormalities including "corpus luteum deficiency," mastalgia (breast pain), and menstrual abnormalities.
Chasteberry has been shown to inhibit prolactin secretion by competitively binding to dopamine receptors. Available evidence suggests that chasteberry may be an effective treatment option for hyperprolactinemic (elevated serum prolactin levels) conditions, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Chasteberry does not appear to affect levels of luteinizing hormone or follicle stimulating hormone.
Currently, clinical trials have found that treatment with chasteberry has been well tolerated with minimal side effects.
The dried fruit of chasteberry plants has been used for thousands of years as a means of treating various ailments, ranging from impotence to breast pain. It was popular in ancient Greece and Rome to help promote celibacy. More recently, chasteberry has gained recognition for its success in alleviating some signs and symptoms of hyperprolactinemia and premenstrual syndrome. It is thought to have a normalizing effect on the menstrual cycle and has been used successfully to treat both amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) and menorrhagia (heavy menstruation).
Abraham's balm, Abrahams-strauch, Agneau chaste (French), Agni casti fructus (Latin), Agnocasto, agnus castus, agnus-castus, chaste berry, chaste tree, chaste tree berry, chastetree, gattilier (French), hemp tree, Keuschlammfruchte (German), kyskhedstrae (Danish), monk's pepper, Moenchspfeffer (German), petit poivre (French), Verbenaceae (family), vitex.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Hyperprolactinemia (excessive prolactin in the blood)
Chasteberry may inhibit prolactin secretion, and thus has been suggested as a potential therapy in hyperprolactinemia, a condition characterized by elevated serum prolactin levels. Although preliminary evidence is promising, additional study is warranted in this area.
Corpus luteum deficiency / luteal phase deficiency
Corpus luteum deficiency (CLD) is a term more commonly used in Europe than in the United States, and refers to irregular development of the corpus luteum
Cyclic mastalgia (breast pain)
Despite preliminary promising results, it remains unclear if chasteberry is an effective treatment in the management of cyclic mastalgia. Additional study is needed in this area.
Irregular menstrual cycles
It remains unclear if chasteberry is an effective therapy in the management of irregular menses. Additional study is needed in this area.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
There is limited controlled trial evidence suggesting possible benefits of chasteberry in the alleviation of symptoms of PMDD. Further evidence is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Most studies evaluating chasteberry in PMS have been of poor study design, although one recent trial demonstrating benefit is of high quality. Further evidence is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.