Chaste tree : Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Chaste tree Uses, medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

The chaste tree is native to the entire Mediterranean, western Asia, and northwestern India. The leading suppliers are Albania and Morocco. The plant prefers to grow in coastal areas and on the banks of rivers and streams. Monk’s Pepper is also grown as an ornamental plant.

The ripe, dried fruits are used as a drug.

Monk’s Pepper: Special Characteristics

The chaste tree is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 6 m high. The twigs are light brown and have felty hairs when young. The leaves resemble a hand with 5-7 lanceolate fingers up to 10 cm long.

The small flowers can be purple, pink, blue or, rarely, white; they are usually terminal and densely grouped in spike-like inflorescences with small four-seeded drupes.


drupes as medicine

The ripe and dried stone fruits are brownish/red-black to olive-black. They are elongated to spherical, and the diameter is usually between 3 and 5 mm.

The fruits are usually two-thirds cup-shaped, enclosed by the lighter, hairy calyx remains. The approximately 1 mm long fruit stalk is sometimes still present.

Smell and taste of chaste tree

Monk’s Pepper exudes an aromatic, sage-like smell. The taste of monk’s Pepper is quite similar to regular Pepper; it tastes spicy and hot.

Chaste tree – application

Chaste tree fruits are crushed mainly to relieve women’s ailments before and during menstruation. These complaints are usually based on a shift in the female hormonal balance, such as an increased estrogen level.

Chaste tree for menstrual cramps

Typical women’s ailments include menstrual cramps and irregularities in menstrual bleeding, such as lengthening of menstrual cycles (oligomenorrhea), shortening of menstrual cycles (polymenorrhea) or absence of menstrual bleeding ( amenorrhea ).


Application for “women’s ailments”

The so-called premenstrual syndrome, which is accompanied by anxiety, restlessness, headaches, nervousness, depression and exhaustion immediately before menstruation, can also be treated with chaste berry.

Monk’s Pepper is also effective in the treatment of hypofunction of the corpus luteum, feelings of tension and swelling in the breasts (mastodynia) or menopausal symptoms (menopausal symptoms). Here, the drug can have beneficial effects on the hormonal balance, especially in the period just before menopause (pre-climacteric).

Chaste tree for breastfeeding women

Monk’s pepper fruits also have a supportive effect when weaning or when milk production (agalactia) is insufficient after birth. However, the effect of Agni casti fructus has yet to be proven for this.


Monk’s Pepper in folk medicine and homeopathy

In folk medicine, the drug used to be used as an anaphrodisiac – for example, in the Middle Ages, taking it was supposed to make it easier for nuns and monks in cloisters to keep their vows of chastity. The fruits were also used as a pepper substitute. This also earned the plant the name “chaste tree” or “monk’s pepper”.

In homoeopathy, chaste tree is used to treat depression, impotence and poor milk production.

Ingredients of chaste tree

Monk’s pepper fruits contain small amounts of essential oils (0.3-1.2%) of variable composition, iridoid glycosides, flavones and flavonoids, and the bitter substance castin and fatty oils.

Chaste tree: what indication?

In the following cases, a chaste tree can be used for herbal medicine:

  • women’s disease
  • menstrual cramps
  • menopausal symptoms
  • Disruption of menstrual bleeding
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • chest pain

Chaste tree – dosage

Aqueous-alcoholic extracts from the crushed fruit are taken as a liquid or dry extract, available in capsule or tablet form.

Chaste tree: in what dose?

The average daily dose recommendations vary between a maximum of 3 g of the crushed fruit per day and 30-40 mg of the dried fruit in extracted form. The fruits should be taken continuously for at least three months to obtain a satisfactory effect.


Monk’s Pepper – preparation and storage

The administration in the form of tea is rare since the components responsible for the effect are poorly soluble in water.

The drug should be stored dry and protected from light.

When should you not take chaste trees?

The drug should not be taken during pregnancy and lactation, as well as during puberty. It is also contraindicated in patients with pituitary tumours, breast cancer (mammary carcinoma) and in patients with hormone-dependent diseases.

A doctor should always be consulted before taking Vitex agnus castus supplements. 

Monk’s Pepper – synonyms

German plant name: chaste tree

German synonyms of the plant: Chaste tree, Chaste shrub, Chaste mud, Tanis, Abraham’s bush, Garbage

Latin plant name: Vitex agnus-castus L.

German drug name: chaste berry fruits

German synonyms of the drug: chaste fruit

Latin drug name: The fruit of the chaste lamb

Latin synonyms of the drug: Berries of the chaste Lamb, Seed of the chaste lamb

English name: Chaste tree (plant); Agnus castus fruit, Chaste berry, Monk’s Pepper (drug)

Plant family Latin: Verbenaceae

Plant family German: Verbena family


Monk’s Pepper – effect

Monk pepper fruits have a calming effect on the hormonal balance. There is evidence that the positive effect of Agni casti fructus is due to a previously unknown compound in the fruit, which has a so-called dopaminergic effect on the pituitary gland ( pituitary gland ), which ultimately results in the inhibition of the release of the hormone prolactin.

Effect of chaste tree: prolactin

Prolactin is a hormone produced in the cells of the anterior pituitary gland. It is responsible for the growth of the mammary glands in pregnant women and milk secretion during lactation. It also suppresses ovulation and thus has a contraceptive effect.

Ultimately, a psychological component is also attributed to prolactin, such as the triggering of brood care behaviour.

According to other authors, chaste tree fruits not only inhibit prolactin release but also balance the prolactin level. This means that prolactin release is inhibited when the prolactin level is high and promoted when the prolactin level is too low. This adjustment normalizes the secretion of gonadotropins – hormones that are responsible for a regular menstrual cycle.


Chaste tree – possible side effects

Occasionally, when taking monk‘s Pepper, itchy exanthema (skin rash) can occur; Occasionally, headaches and gastrointestinal complaints occur. Toxicology studies are not available to date.

Interactions with chaste tree

Due to the dopaminergic effect of chasteberry, the administration of dopamine receptor antagonists (e.g. neuroleptics or antiemetics, i.e. drugs to suppress nausea and vomiting) could lead to a mutual weakening of the effect.



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