Posted on Mon, 3 Aug 09
The fruiting berries of Vitex Agnus Castus (Chaste tree) have been used as herbal medicine for more than 2,500 years. The herb was used as a remedy for female health complaints in ancient Egypt, Rome and Medieval Europe and modern research suggests Chaste tree is safe and effective for symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and breast pain (cyclical mastalgia) .
Natural PMS relief
Symptoms of PMS such as anxiety, cravings, depression, bloating, acne, weight gain and nausea will affect up to 90% of women at some point during their lives. As many as 1 in 5 women experience PMS regularly with many suffering severe and life crippling symptoms. Chaste tree has been shown to relieve many of the symptoms of PMS and is considered a safe alternative to treatments such as hormone therapy or drugs .
A clinical study published in the British Medical Journal reported a significant improvement in overall symptoms of PMS including irritability, mood changes, anger, headaches and breast fullness in women who took Chaste tree for 3 months . It was concluded that Chaste tree “is well tolerated and effective for the treatment for the premenstrual syndrome.” This finding is supported by a number of other clinical studies showing benefit in PMS sufferers [4-6].
Easing breast pain
Breast pain affects up to 30% of premenstrual women often lasting longer than 5 days a month and commonly interfering with sexual, physical, social and work-related activities . Although the exact cause of premenstrual breast pain is unknown it has been suggested to be related to high levels of the hormone prolactin. Chaste tree has been shown to lower high prolactin levels and reduce symptoms of breast pain .
A review in the journal Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine established that in a number of studies Chaste tree was found to be safe, effective and efficient for the treatment of premenstrual breast pain .
The recommended dose of Chaste tree varies but is generally around 1.5-3 grams of dried fruit or 20-40 mg of concentrated herbal extract a day. Significant symptom improvement has been demonstrated after 3 months of continuous use. While Chaste tree is considered safe the herb should be avoided in pregnancy and breast feeding .
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