Monk’s Pepper

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An extract made from the fruit of the chaste tree (vitex agnus-castus) found in parts of asia and europe. It is declared to deal with infertility and to minimize symptoms that might occur prior to or throughout a female’s menstrual duration, such as headaches and irregular bleeding. Monk’s pepper might impact levels of reproductive hormonal agents in the blood. It is a type of phytomedicine. Likewise called chaste tree berry and vitex. (1 )

Further overview

Order: mint order of blooming plants (lamiales).

Family: mint household (lamiaceae).

Subfamily: viticoideae.

Genus: vitex.

Origin and distribution:

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

Efficient components:

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

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

There are frequently interesting stories behind the name of a plant– also when it comes to monk’s pepper. The part of the name “pepper” comes from the fruit, which appear like peppercorns and taste hot. However why “monk”? This name most likely originates from the fact that the medicinal plant was thought to decrease the sex drive in the center ages. According to middle ages sources, they were used as an anaphrodisiac, i.e. The reverse of an aphrodisiac. Monks are said to have actually eaten the monk’s pepper fruits and slept on the leaves of the plant to reduce their sex drive and to suppress the “reprehensible sins of the flesh”. This is also shown in standard names of the plant such as chaste tree or chasteberry. The latin name agnus castus has a similar significance and equates something like “virginal lamb”. However, clinical research on female clients has actually not verified the supposed anaphrodisiac impact (decrease of the sex drive) of monk’s pepper fruit.

Components and effect of monk’s pepper

Vitex agnus-castus contains, to name a few, necessary oils, diterpenes, flavonoids and iridoid glycosides (for instance, aucubin and agnuside). Extracts from the dried fruit of the medicinal plant are utilized for natural solutions. These reduce the release of the prolactin hormone, perhaps via a dopamin related system of action. Prolactin is responsible for the development of the female breasts during pregnancy. During the breastfeeding duration, prolactin guarantees that breast milk is produced. Scientists have actually had the ability to reveal that pms syndrome and an irregular cycle in ladies might be connected with an increased level of prolactin. (3 ).


Chastetree is a non-native shrub or tree which does finest in hot weather. In cooler environments, it can be seriously pruned to the ground and will typically grow back. It can suffer winter season dieback or will pass away to the ground in usda zones 5 and 6; nevertheless, the roots typically endure and rise several feet of new development the list below year. Pruning can be done in early spring as blooming takes place on brand-new wood. Due to this quality, dieback will not impact blooming. Prune faded flowers to promote constant blooming. Flowering will be more magnificent if the plant is heavily pruned after flowering.

This tree is resistant to damage by deer and is moderately salt tolerant. It has excellent dry spell tolerance when established. It easily reseeds and can become weedy.

In warmer climates, it can be trained to grow as a little, single trunk tree or a big shrub. Although normally grown as a 10-15 foot shrub, in tree form it can reach heights of up to 20 feet. This long-lived specimen’s fast development rate can add up to 24 inches each 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 tall as 25 to 30 feet with the same spread. There are likewise lots of cultivars of various sizes in between.

This plant has the possible to become intrusive, especially in southern locations of the country. Its dry fruit can be a litter problem.

Pests, diseases, and other plant problems: thrips can trigger damage. It is the just recognized 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 occur in too damp soils. (4 ).

Enhances conditions impacting ladies’s reproductive systems

Vitex agnus-castus is particularly known for its capability to improve conditions affecting a female’s reproductive system.

Alleviates signs of premenstrual syndrome (pms)

One of the most popular and well-researched characteristics of vitex agnus-castus is its capability to minimize symptoms of pms.

These consist of:.

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

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

In one research study, ladies with pms took vitex agnus-castus during 3 consecutive menstrual cycles. In total, 93 percent of those provided vitex reported a decline in pms symptoms, consisting of:.

  • Depression
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Cravings

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

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

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

Vitex agnus-castus likewise appears to help in reducing cyclic mastalgia, a type of breast pain linked to menstruation. Research suggests that it might be as reliable as typical drug treatment– but with far fewer adverse effects.

However, two recent evaluations report that although vitex appears valuable in reducing pms signs, its advantages may be overstated.

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

May reduce menopause signs

The hormone-balancing effects of vitex agnus-castus may likewise assist relieve signs of menopause.

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

In a follow-up research study 52 additional pre- and postmenopausal women were given a vitex cream. Of the research study participants, 33 percent experienced major improvements, and another 36 percent reported moderate improvements in signs, consisting of night sweats and hot flashes.

However, not all research studies have actually observed benefits. One current and larger double-blind, randomized, controlled trial– the gold requirement in research– offered females a placebo or a day-to-day tablet consisting of a mix of vitex and st. John’s wort.

After 16 weeks, the vitex supplement disappeared efficient than the placebo at lowering hot flashes, anxiety or any other menopausal signs.

Bear in mind that in many studies reporting advantages, females were provided with supplements that combined vitex agnus-castus with other herbs. Therefore, it’s tough to isolate the results of vitex alone.

Might improve fertility

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

This might be especially true in women with luteal stage problem, or a reduced 2nd half of the menstruation. This disorder is linked to unusually high prolactin levels and makes it difficult for ladies to conceive.

In one study, 40 women 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 reducing prolactin levels.

In another study in 52 women with luteal phase problem, 20 mg of vitex resulted in lower prolactin levels and prolonged menstrual stages, while individuals given a placebo saw no advantage.

Yet another study offered 93 females– who had unsuccessfully tried to conceive over the last 6– 36 months– a supplement containing 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, just 10 percent of those in the placebo group conceived.

Bear in mind that the supplement held a mix of other components, making it hard to separate the effects of vitex.

Irregular durations can likewise hinder females in preparing a pregnancy. 3 extra studies report that vitex is more effective than a placebo in improving menstruations in females with irregular periods.


Vitex agnus-castus might lower symptoms of pms and menopause, though research study outcomes are combined. By potentially reducing prolactin hormone levels and stabilizing menstrual durations, it might likewise enhance fertility.

Helps prevent insect bites

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

In one study, an extract made from vitex seeds helped repel mosquitoes, flies, ticks, and fleas for about six hours.

Another research study revealed that a spray containing vitex and other plant extracts secured versus head lice for at least seven hours.

Research study even more reveals that vitex might kill lice larva and restrain adult lice reproduction.


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

Other possible benefits

Vitex may also use a variety of additional benefits, consisting of:.

Lowered headaches. In one study, women vulnerable to migraines provided vitex daily for 3 months reduced the variety of headaches they experienced during their menstruations by 66 percent (28trusted source). Nevertheless, the research study didn’t include a control group, making it impossible to know whether vitex was accountable for these benefits.

Anti-bacterial and antifungal impacts. Test-tube studies show that important oils made from vitex may battle harmful fungi and germs, including staphylococcus and salmonella germs (29trusted source, 30trusted source). Bear in mind that necessary oils ought to not be consumed, and vitex supplements are not likely to reduce the threat of infections.

Lowered swelling. Test-tube and animal research studies recommend that compounds in vitex may have anti-inflammatory residential or commercial properties. However, their results aren’t more powerful than those of aspirin.

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

Epilepsy avoidance. Animal studies recommend that vitex might minimize the possibility of epileptic seizures.

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


Vitex might offer multiple other advantages, however the proof is weak. More research is required before any claims can be made.

Typical misconceptions

Vitex has been traditionally used to treat a wide variety of conditions. Nevertheless, a number of its usages are presently unsupported by clinical proof.

The most popular unverified usages include:

Breastfeeding. While an old study postulated that vitex might improve milk supply in nursing females, the general evidence is weak and controversial.

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

Treating endometriosis. Vitex might normalize hormone imbalances, which could theoretically reduce symptoms of endometriosis, a female gynecologic disorder. Nevertheless, no studies verify this.

Baldness avoidance. The hormone-balancing impacts of vitex are sometimes claimed to increase hair development in guys. However, no research study can be found to support this claim.

Acne treatment. Three research studies assert that vitex may reduce acne faster than conventional treatments. Nevertheless, these research studies are years old. More recent research study hasn’t verified these effects.


While vitex agnus-castus is utilized as an alternative remedy to treat various symptoms, lots of purported 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 very first daily of menstruation up until day 8 of the cycle for four cycles lowers bleeding brought on by an intrauterine device.

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

  • Bigger 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 business, isfanhan, iran) alone or together with magnesium oxide (nature made company, U.S.A.) daily for 8 weeks does not improve bone fracture recovery in women. (6 ).


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

Chasteberry’s therapeutic impacts are attributed to its indirect effects on numerous hormonal agents, specifically prolactin and progesterone. This hormonal result seems dose-dependent: low doses of extract have led to decreased estrogen levels and increased progesterone and prolactin levels, possibly caused by an inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (fsh) and stimulation of luteinizing hormonal agent (lh) levels. Nevertheless, in some studies of individuals getting higher dosages, fsh and lh levels remained the same, while prolactin release was reduced. These effects may discuss why lower doses of the herb might stimulate breast milk production, whereas higher doses appear to have the opposite effect. (7 ).

Serious side effects of chasteberry– the mediterranean herb

1. May cause acne

Acne is among the most typical negative impacts of chasteberry. The herb likewise triggers an erythematous rash, which is inflammation of the skin characterized by increased blood flow to the superficial blood vessels.

2. May trigger an upset stomach

Though not serious, the use of chasteberry might trigger an upset stomach. Other related intestinal grievances might include queasiness. Nevertheless, this is only based upon anecdotal evidence, and research has actually not established this reality.

3. Can cause issues during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Using chasteberry during pregnancy and breastfeeding is questionable. There is poor evidence to support if the use of chasteberry during pregnancy can really prevent miscarriages.

Though in specific small research studies, using chasteberry seemed to assist achieve pregnancy, its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding is completely discouraged as its impact on infants has not been well recorded.

4. May cause issues during breast cancer

Chasterry has phytoestrogenic homes. It can imitate the results of estrogen in the body, a hormone that contributes in the advancement of women’s breasts. In this manner, it may interfere with certain cancers. Hence, people with hormone-sensitive cancers, like that of the breast, need to consult their medical professional before utilizing it.

5. Can hinder specific drugs and therapies

Chasteberry can interfere with contraceptive pill. It is known to promote fertility, and the herb might not be a good option if you are looking for birth control.

Chasteberry can likewise disrupt progesterone, a hormone utilized in hormone replacement therapy. Thus, women undergoing therapy should avoid the herb and talk to their physician. (8 ).

You must just take chasteberry under the guidance of your health care service provider. Although rare, chasteberry does produce adverse effects in some taking it, including dizziness, acne-like rash, indigestion, diarrhea, weight gain, sleeping disorders, hair loss, headache and heavy menstrual durations. It can trigger an allergic reaction. Inform your doctor instantly if you develop hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the mouth and face while taking chasteberry. (9 ).

How much do we know?

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

What have we found out?

Preliminary studies recommend that chasteberry might be practical for symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and for breast pain related to the menstrual cycle, however the evidence is not definitive.

Scientists have studied chasteberry for infertility in females, however there isn’t sufficient trusted evidence to know if it assists.

What do we know about security?

When utilized in minimal quantities, chasteberry seems generally well endured. Negative effects are generally moderate, and may consist of queasiness, headache, intestinal disturbances, or itching.

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

It may not be safe for women with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer, to take this herb. It’s possible that chasteberry might engage with some medicines, such as contraceptive pill, drugs used to treat parkinson’s illness, and drugs used to treat psychosis. If you’re taking medicine, talk with your healthcare company before utilizing chasteberry.

Bear in mind

Take charge of your health– talk with your healthcare service providers about any complementary health techniques you use. Together, you can make shared, educated choices. (10 ).

What are the preventative measures when taking this product?

  • Always talk to your doctor prior to you use a natural product. Some products might not mix well with drugs or other natural items.
  • Do not use this item if you are pregnant or plan to conceive soon. Usage birth control you can rely on while taking this product.
  • Do not breastfeed while utilizing this product.
  • Do not utilize this product if you have health problems that are sensitive to hormones. These are issues like breast cancer and prostate cancer.
  • Take additional care if you are taking drugs which contain hormonal agents. These are drugs like birth control pills and hormonal agent replacement treatment.
  • Take additional care if you are taking drugs that affect dopamine levels. These are drugs like levodopa-carbidopa (sinemet), ropinirole (requip), and pramipexole (mirapex).

Take extra care and contact your physician if you have:

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

What should I watch for?

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

When do I need to call the doctor?

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

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

Changes in menstrual periods like great deals of bleeding, finding, 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 healthcare provider or pharmacist initially.

Chaste tree comes in the form of tinctures, capsules, and liquid extracts. Follow the instructions on the plan for the appropriate dosage. (12 ).


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