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 decrease signs that might happen before or during a female’s menstrual duration, such as headaches and irregular bleeding. Monk’s pepper may affect levels of reproductive hormones in the blood. It is a kind of phytomedicine. Also called chaste tree berry and vitex. (1 )

More summary

Order: mint order of blooming plants (lamiales).

Family: mint family (lamiaceae).

Subfamily: viticoideae.

Genus: vitex.

Origin and distribution:

Mediterranean area across southwest asia towards krim and approximately pakistan.

Effective ingredients:

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

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

There are often interesting stories behind the name of a plant– likewise in the case of monk’s pepper. The part of the name “pepper” originates from the fruit, which look like peppercorns and taste hot. But why “monk”? This name probably stems from the truth that the medical plant was believed to lower the libido in the middle ages. According to middle ages sources, they were utilized as an anaphrodisiac, i.e. The opposite of an aphrodisiac. Monks are said to have eaten the monk’s pepper fruits and slept on the leaves of the plant to decrease their libido and to suppress the “guilty sins of the flesh”. This is likewise shown in conventional names of the plant such as chaste tree or chasteberry. The latin name agnus castus has a similar meaning and translates something like “virginal lamb”. However, scientific research on female patients has not validated the purported anaphrodisiac effect (decrease of the sex drive) of monk’s pepper fruit.

Ingredients and effect of monk’s pepper

Vitex agnus-castus consists of, to name a few, necessary oils, diterpenes, flavonoids and iridoid glycosides (for example, aucubin and agnuside). Extracts from the dried fruit of the medicinal plant are used for herbal remedies. These minimise the release of the prolactin hormone, maybe by means of a dopamin associated mechanism of action. Prolactin is accountable for the development of the female breasts during pregnancy. During the breastfeeding duration, prolactin guarantees that breast milk is produced. Researchers have actually been able to reveal that pms syndrome and an irregular cycle in women may be gotten in touch with an increased level of prolactin. (3 ).


Chastetree is a non-native shrub or tree which does best in hot weather. In cooler environments, it can be severely pruned to the ground and will typically regrow. It can suffer winter season dieback or will pass away to the ground in usda zones 5 and 6; nevertheless, the roots frequently make it through and rise numerous feet of brand-new growth the following year. Pruning can be carried out in early spring as flowering occurs on brand-new wood. Due to this characteristic, dieback will not affect flowering. Prune faded flowers to promote constant blooming. Flowering will be more amazing if the plant is heavily pruned after flowering.

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

In warmer environments, it can be trained to grow as a small, single trunk tree or a large 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 quick 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 high as 25 to 30 feet with the very same spread. There are also lots of cultivars of numerous sizes in between.

This plant has the prospective to end up being invasive, particularly in southern areas of the country. Its dry fruit can be a litter issue.

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

Enhances conditions impacting females’s reproductive systems

Vitex agnus-castus is especially known for its ability to improve conditions affecting a woman’s reproductive system.

Eases signs of premenstrual syndrome (pms)

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

These include:.

  • Constipation
  • Irritation
  • Depressed state of mind
  • Migraines
  • Breast pain and tenderness

Scientists think that vitex works by decreasing levels of the hormonal agent prolactin. This helps rebalance other hormonal agents, consisting of estrogen and progesterone– therefore lowering pms signs.

In one research study, women with pms took vitex agnus-castus throughout 3 consecutive menstrual cycles. In total, 93 percent of those provided vitex reported a reduction in pms signs, including:.

  • Depression
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Yearnings

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

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

Two times as numerous females in the vitex group reported a decrease in signs consisting of irritability, mood swings, headaches and breast fullness, compared to those provided the placebo.

Vitex agnus-castus also appears to help reduce cyclic mastalgia, a kind of breast discomfort linked to menstruation. Research recommends that it might be as efficient as typical drug treatment– but with far fewer negative effects.

However, 2 recent evaluations report that although vitex appears handy in reducing pms signs, its advantages might be overestimated.

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

May reduce menopause symptoms

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

In one study, vitex oils were offered to 23 women in menopause. Women reported enhanced menopause signs, including much better state of mind and sleep. Some even regained their duration.

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

However, not all studies have observed advantages. One recent and larger double-blind, randomized, managed trial– the gold requirement in research study– provided women a placebo or an everyday tablet consisting of a combination of vitex and st. John’s wort.

After 16 weeks, the vitex supplement was no more reliable than the placebo at lowering hot flashes, depression or any other menopausal symptoms.

Keep in mind that in lots of studies reporting advantages, women were provided with supplements that combined vitex agnus-castus with other herbs. Therefore, it’s challenging to separate the impacts of vitex alone.

Might boost fertility

Vitex may enhance female fertility due to its possible result on prolactin levels.

This might be specifically true in women with luteal phase defect, or a shortened second half of the menstruation. This condition is linked to unusually high prolactin levels and makes it challenging for women to conceive.

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

In another research study in 52 ladies with luteal stage problem, 20 mg of vitex led to lower prolactin levels and extended menstrual phases, while individuals provided a placebo saw no advantage.

Yet another research study offered 93 females– who had actually unsuccessfully attempted to become pregnant over the last 6– 36 months– a supplement containing vitex agnus-castus or a placebo.

After three months, ladies in the vitex group experienced an improved hormonal agent balance– and 26 percent of them conceived. In contrast, only 10 percent of those in the placebo group conceived.

Bear in mind that the supplement held a mix of other components, making it difficult to isolate the results of vitex.

Irregular durations can likewise hinder women in preparing a pregnancy. 3 additional studies report that vitex is more reliable than a placebo in improving menstruations in ladies with irregular periods.


Vitex agnus-castus might decrease symptoms of pms and menopause, though study results are combined. By potentially decreasing prolactin hormone levels and supporting menstrual periods, it may also improve fertility.

Helps avoid insect bites

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

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

Another study exposed that a spray containing vitex and other plant extracts secured against head lice for at least 7 hours.

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


Vitex agnus-castus might provide some defense versus pests, particularly mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas, and head lice.

Other possible advantages

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

Minimized headaches. In one research study, females vulnerable to migraines given vitex daily for three months minimized the number of headaches they experienced throughout their menstruations by 66 percent (28trusted source). Nevertheless, the study didn’t include a control group, making it difficult to understand whether vitex was responsible for these advantages.

Anti-bacterial and antifungal effects. Test-tube research studies show that necessary oils made from vitex might fight hazardous fungi and bacteria, consisting of staphylococcus and salmonella bacteria (29trusted source, 30trusted source). Keep in mind that important oils should not be taken in, and vitex supplements are not likely to minimize the risk of infections.

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

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

Epilepsy avoidance. Animal research studies recommend that vitex may decrease the likelihood of epileptic seizures.

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


Vitex might use multiple other advantages, but the evidence is weak. More research study is required before any claims can be made.

Typical myths

Vitex has been typically utilized to deal with a wide variety of disorders. However, a lot of its uses are currently unsupported by scientific proof.

The most popular unsubstantiated usages include:

Breastfeeding. While an old study postulated that vitex may increase milk supply in nursing females, the overall proof is weak and questionable.

Pain reduction. Though research links vitex to numbed pain receptors in rats, no human research studies have been done.

Treating endometriosis. Vitex might normalize hormone imbalances, which might in theory lower symptoms of endometriosis, a female gynecologic condition. Nevertheless, no studies confirm this.

Baldness prevention. The hormone-balancing results of vitex are sometimes claimed to boost hair development in men. Nevertheless, no research can be found to support this claim.

Acne treatment. Three research studies assert that vitex might minimize acne faster than conventional treatments. However, these studies are years old. More recent research study hasn’t confirmed these effects.


While vitex agnus-castus is used as an alternative solution to treat various signs, lots of supposed advantages are not backed by research study. (5 ).

Insufficient proof to rate effectiveness for …

Bleeding. Research study suggests that taking vitex agnus-castus 3 times daily from the first daily of menstruation until day 8 of the cycle for 4 cycles reduces bleeding triggered by an intrauterine device.

Recurrent breast pain. 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 frequent breast pain. Other early research suggests that taking vitex agnus-castus daily for 3 months is as efficient for reducing breast pain as the medication flurbiprofen.

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

Perhaps inefficient for …

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


The berry of the chaste tree includes 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 result prevents basal- and thyrotropin-releasing hormone– stimulated prolactin release.

Chasteberry’s restorative impacts are credited to its indirect impacts on numerous hormones, especially prolactin and progesterone. This hormonal effect appears to be dose-dependent: low dosages of extract have resulted in reduced estrogen levels and increased progesterone and prolactin levels, possibly caused by an inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormonal agent (fsh) and stimulation of luteinizing hormone (lh) levels. However, in some research studies of individuals receiving higher dosages, fsh and lh levels remained the same, while prolactin release was reduced. These results might describe why lower dosages of the herb may promote breast milk production, whereas higher dosages appear to have the opposite result. (7 ).

Serious side effects of chasteberry– the mediterranean herb

1. May trigger acne

Acne is amongst the most common adverse results of chasteberry. The herb also triggers an erythematous rash, which is redness of the skin defined by increased blood flow to the superficial capillaries.

2. May cause an indigestion

Though not serious, the use of chasteberry may trigger an indigestion. Other associated gastrointestinal grievances may consist of queasiness. Nevertheless, this is just based on anecdotal proof, and research study has not established this truth.

3. Can cause problems during pregnancy and breastfeeding

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

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

4. May cause problems during breast cancer

Chasterry has phytoestrogenic residential or commercial properties. It can imitate the impacts of estrogen in the body, a hormonal agent that contributes in the advancement of women’s breasts. In this manner, it might disrupt particular cancers. Thus, people with hormone-sensitive cancers, like that of the breast, should consult their medical professional prior to utilizing it.

5. Can disrupt certain drugs and therapies

Chasteberry can hinder contraceptive pill. It is known to promote fertility, and the herb might not be an excellent option if you are looking for contraception.

Chasteberry can also interfere with progesterone, a hormone utilized in hormone replacement treatment. Thus, females undergoing therapy must steer clear of the herb and speak to their medical professional. (8 ).

You should only take chasteberry under the supervision of your healthcare service provider. Although rare, chasteberry does produce negative effects in some taking it, consisting of lightheadedness, acne-like rash, stomach upset, diarrhea, weight gain, sleeping disorders, loss of hair, headache and heavy menstrual periods. It can trigger an allergic reaction. Notify your physician immediately if you establish hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the mouth and face while taking chasteberry. (9 ).

Just how much do we know?

There’s not a lot 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 learned?

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

Scientists have studied chasteberry for infertility in women, but there isn’t adequate reliable evidence to know if it assists.

What do we know about security?

When used in minimal quantities, chasteberry appears to be typically well tolerated. Side effects are normally mild, and might include nausea, headache, intestinal disruptions, or itching.

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

It might 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 may engage with some medications, such as contraceptive pill, substance abuse to treat parkinson’s illness, and drugs used to deal with psychosis. If you’re taking medication, talk with your health care company before utilizing chasteberry.

Keep 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, knowledgeable decisions. (10 ).

What are the preventative measures when taking this product?

  • Constantly talk to your physician prior to you utilize 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 item.
  • Do not breastfeed while utilizing this item.
  • Do not utilize this item if you have health issue that are sensitive to hormonal agents. These are issues like breast cancer and prostate cancer.
  • Take additional care if you are taking drugs which contain hormones. These are drugs like birth control pills and hormone replacement treatment.
  • Take extra 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 talk to your physician if you have:

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

What should I watch for?

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

When do I require to call the physician?

Indications of a really bad response. 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.

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

Modifications in menstrual periods like great deals of bleeding, finding, or bleeding in between cycles. (11 ).

Indicate note

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

Chaste tree can be found in the form of tinctures, pills, and liquid extracts. Follow the instructions on the package for the right dose. (12 ).


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