Monk's Pepper (Agnus castus): Beneficial effects in the management of premenstrual stress syndrome (PMS) and infertility. A study has shown that extracts of the fruit of VAC can bind to opiate receptors; this could explain why intake of VAC reduces PMS discomforts. The berries are a tonic herb for both the male and female reproductive systems.
It acts upon the pituitary gland, reducing the production of certain hormones and increasing the production of others, shifting the balance in favour of the gestagens.
This plant is commonly called monk's pepper because it was originally used as anti-libido medicine by monks to aid their attempts to remain chaste. It is believed to be a male anaphrodisiac, hence the name chaste tree. There are disputed accounts regarding its action on female libido, with some claims that it is anaphrodisiac and others that it is aphrodisiac.
Agnus castus has been used for thousands of years for its beneficial affect on the female hormonal system. Modern research has confirmed this use, the seeds being used to restore balanced functioning to the female reproductive system.
The seeds and fruits are anaphrodisiac, aphrodisiac, galactogogue, ophthalmic, sedative, stomachic, women's complaints. Prolonged usage restores corpus luteum function. Unfortunately, the berries are unlikely to be produced in the British climate.
The berries of this plant have a range of medicinal actions but possibly the most important is its ability to rectify hormonal imbalances caused by an excess of oestrogen and an insufficiency of progesterone. It acts upon the pituitary gland, reducing the production of certain hormones and increasing the production of others, shifting the balance in favour of the gestagens. Thus it has a wide application of uses in malfunctions of the feminine reproductive system and has been used with great effect in restoring absent menstruation, regulating heavy periods, restoring fertility when this is caused by hormonal imbalance, relieving pre-menstrual tension and easing the change of the menopause.
Some caution is advised since excessive doses can cause a nervous disorder known as formication, which manifests as a sensation of insects crawling over the skin.
The berries are considered to be an aphrodisiac, though other reports say that they are anaphrodisiac. The reason for this apparent disagreement is that the berries have a regulating effect on the body and so are likely to increase sexual activity in those who are not very active in this area whilst reducing it in those who are very active. The fresh berries are pounded to a pulp and used in the form of a tincture for the relief of paralysis, pains in the limbs, weakness etc..
From the Spanimax List: "15 Top Herbs II"
- The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants; Chevallier. A.
- Agnus Castus; Bartram. T.
- Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses; Bown. D.
- Growing 101 Herbs That Heal; Hartung, T.
- Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) Pharmacology and clinical indications; Wuttke, W; Jarry H, Christoffel V, Spengler B, Seidlová-Wuttke D.
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