Monk’s Pepper

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An extract made from the fruit of the chaste tree (vitex agnus-castus) discovered in parts of asia and europe. It is declared to deal with infertility and to decrease signs that may occur prior to or throughout a lady’s menstrual period, such as headaches and irregular bleeding. Monk’s pepper might impact levels of reproductive hormones in the blood. It is a kind of phytomedicine. Likewise called chaste tree berry and vitex. (1 )

Further introduction

Order: mint order of blooming plants (lamiales).

Family: mint household (lamiaceae).

Subfamily: viticoideae.

Genus: vitex.

Origin and circulation:

Mediterranean area across southwest asia towards krim and approximately pakistan.

Effective active ingredients:

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

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

There are frequently fascinating stories behind the name of a plant– likewise in the case of 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 probably originates from the fact that the medicinal plant was believed to minimize the sex drive in the center ages. According to middle ages sources, they were utilized as an anaphrodisiac, i.e. The opposite of an aphrodisiac. Monks are stated to have actually eaten the monk’s pepper fruits and slept on the leaves of the plant to lessen their sex drive and to reduce the “remiss sins of the flesh”. This is likewise shown in standard names of the plant such as chaste tree or chasteberry. The latin name agnus castus has a comparable significance and translates something like “virginal lamb”. Nevertheless, scientific research on female clients has not confirmed the supposed anaphrodisiac result (reduction of the libido) of monk’s pepper fruit.

Ingredients and impact of monk’s pepper

Vitex agnus-castus consists of, among others, essential oils, diterpenes, flavonoids and iridoid glycosides (for example, aucubin and agnuside). Extracts from the dried fruit of the medical plant are utilized for organic solutions. These minimise the release of the prolactin hormonal agent, maybe via a dopamin related system of action. Prolactin is accountable for the development of the female breasts during pregnancy. Throughout the breastfeeding duration, prolactin ensures that breast milk is produced. Researchers have had the ability to reveal that pms syndrome and an irregular cycle in women may be connected with an increased level of prolactin. (3 ).

In addition

Chastetree is a non-native shrub or tree which does finest in heat. In cooler environments, it can be severely pruned to the ground and will normally grow back. It can suffer winter season dieback or will die to the ground in usda zones 5 and 6; however, the roots typically survive and push up several feet of new growth the following year. Pruning can be performed in early spring as blooming happens on brand-new wood. Due to this quality, dieback will not affect blooming. Prune faded flowers to promote constant flowering. Blooming will be more magnificent if the plant is greatly pruned after blooming.

This tree is resistant to damage by deer and is reasonably salt tolerant. It has excellent drought tolerance when developed. It easily reseeds and can end up being weedy.

In warmer environments, it can be trained to grow as a little, single trunk tree or a large shrub. Although generally 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 high as 25 to 30 feet with the very same spread. There are likewise lots of cultivars of different sizes in between.

This plant has the prospective to become intrusive, particularly in southern locations of the country. Its dry fruit can be a litter issue.

Bugs, diseases, and other plant problems: thrips can cause damage. It is the just recognized host for hyalesthus obsoletus and can be utilized as a biological control agent by planting it around vineyards to trap this cicada. Root rot can take place in too wet soils. (4 ).

Enhances conditions affecting ladies’s reproductive systems

Vitex agnus-castus is especially known for its capability to enhance conditions impacting a lady’s reproductive system.

Reduces signs of premenstrual syndrome (pms)

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

These consist of:.

  • Constipation
  • Irritability
  • Depressed mood
  • Migraines
  • Breast pain and inflammation

Scientists believe that vitex works by decreasing levels of the hormone prolactin. This helps rebalance other hormonal agents, consisting of estrogen and progesterone– thus reducing pms signs.

In one research study, women with pms took vitex agnus-castus throughout three consecutive menstrual cycles. In total, 93 percent of those given vitex reported a decrease in pms symptoms, including:.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Yearnings

However, the research study didn’t include a control group, and placebo impacts can’t be dismissed.

In 2 smaller research studies, ladies with pms were offered 20 mg of vitex agnus-castus per day or a placebo for 3 menstruations.

Twice as numerous ladies in the vitex group reported a reduction in signs including irritability, state of mind swings, headaches and breast fullness, compared to those offered the placebo.

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

However, two recent reviews report that although vitex appears practical in lowering pms signs, its advantages might be overstated.

Better-designed research studies may be needed in the past strong conclusions can be made.

May lower menopause symptoms

The hormone-balancing impacts of vitex agnus-castus might also help eliminate symptoms of menopause.

In one research study, vitex oils were provided to 23 women in menopause. Females reported improved menopause symptoms, consisting of 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 study participants, 33 percent experienced significant improvements, and another 36 percent reported moderate enhancements in signs, including night sweats and hot flashes.

Nevertheless, not all research studies have observed benefits. One current and bigger double-blind, randomized, managed trial– the gold standard in research– provided ladies a placebo or a day-to-day tablet including a combination of vitex and st. John’s wort.

After 16 weeks, the vitex supplement disappeared effective than the placebo at decreasing hot flashes, anxiety or any other menopausal symptoms.

Remember that in numerous studies reporting advantages, ladies were offered with supplements that mixed vitex agnus-castus with other herbs. For that reason, it’s tough to isolate the results of vitex alone.

May enhance fertility

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

This might be particularly true in females with luteal phase problem, or a shortened 2nd half of the menstrual cycle. This condition is connected to abnormally high prolactin levels and makes it tough for ladies to become pregnant.

In one study, 40 ladies with unusually high prolactin levels were provided either 40 mg of vitex agnus-castus or a pharmaceutical drug. Vitex was as reliable as the drug in decreasing prolactin levels.

In another research study in 52 females with luteal stage defect, 20 mg of vitex resulted in lower prolactin levels and prolonged menstrual phases, while participants given a placebo saw no advantage.

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

After three months, ladies in the vitex group experienced an enhanced hormonal agent balance– and 26 percent of them became pregnant. In comparison, just 10 percent of those in the placebo group became pregnant.

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

Irregular durations can also hinder females in planning a pregnancy. 3 additional studies report that vitex is more efficient than a placebo in enhancing menstrual cycles in women with irregular periods.


Vitex agnus-castus may reduce symptoms of pms and menopause, though research study outcomes are mixed. By potentially reducing prolactin hormonal agent levels and stabilizing menstrual durations, it may likewise enhance fertility.

Helps avoid insect bites

Vitex might likewise assist keep a range of pests at bay.

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

Another study exposed that a spray including vitex and other plant extracts protected against head lice for a minimum of 7 hours.

Research further shows that vitex might eliminate lice larva and impede adult lice reproduction.


Vitex agnus-castus might use some protection against insects, particularly mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas, and head lice.

Other prospective advantages

Vitex may likewise offer a series of additional benefits, consisting of:.

Decreased headaches. In one study, females susceptible to migraines given vitex daily for 3 months decreased the variety of headaches they experienced throughout their menstrual cycles by 66 percent (28trusted source). However, the research study didn’t include a control group, making it difficult to know whether vitex was accountable for these benefits.

Antibacterial and antifungal impacts. Test-tube studies show that important oils made from vitex may combat hazardous fungis and bacteria, consisting of staphylococcus and salmonella bacteria (29trusted source, 30trusted source). Bear in mind that vital oils need to not be taken in, and vitex supplements are not likely to decrease the threat of infections.

Lowered inflammation. Test-tube and animal research studies suggest that substances in vitex might have anti-inflammatory residential or commercial properties. Nevertheless, their impacts aren’t more powerful than those of aspirin.

Bone repair. In one study, females with bone fractures given a mix of vitex and magnesium had actually slightly increased markers for bone repair than those provided a placebo.

Epilepsy prevention. Animal research studies recommend that vitex may reduce the probability of epileptic seizures.

That said, research study supporting these advantages is restricted. More studies are needed prior to strong conclusions can be drawn.


Vitex might provide several other advantages, but the proof is weak. More research study is required before any claims can be made.

Common misconceptions

Vitex has actually been typically utilized to treat a wide array of ailments. However, many of its usages are currently unsupported by clinical proof.

The most popular unverified usages consist of:

Breastfeeding. While an old study postulated that vitex might increase milk supply in nursing ladies, the general evidence is weak and questionable.

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

Dealing with endometriosis. Vitex might normalize hormone imbalances, which could theoretically reduce signs of endometriosis, a female gynecologic disorder. However, no research studies verify this.

Baldness avoidance. The hormone-balancing results of vitex are in some cases declared to enhance hair development in guys. However, no research study can be discovered to support this claim.

Acne treatment. 3 studies assert that vitex might minimize acne faster than conventional treatments. However, these studies are years old. Newer research study hasn’t confirmed these results.


While vitex agnus-castus is utilized as an alternative solution to deal with various signs, many purported benefits are not backed by research. (5 ).

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for …

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

Frequent breast discomfort. Early research recommends that vitex agnus-castus alone or in a service including vitex agnus-castus plus 5 other herbs (mastodynon, bionorica ag) may eliminate persistent breast pain. Other early research suggests that taking vitex agnus-castus daily for 3 months is as reliable for lowering breast pain as the medication flurbiprofen.

  • Bigger prostate.
  • Eye discomfort.
  • Increasing lactation.
  • Menopausal symptoms.
  • Prevention of miscarriage.
  • Other conditions.

Potentially inefficient for …

Fractures. Research recommends that taking a particular vitex agnus-castus extract (agnugol, goldaru drug store business, isfanhan, iran) alone or together with magnesium oxide (nature made business, usa) daily for 8 weeks does not improve bone fracture recovery in females. (6 ).


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

Chasteberry’s therapeutic effects are credited to its indirect effects on numerous hormonal agents, particularly prolactin and progesterone. This hormonal result appears to be dose-dependent: low doses of extract have actually led to decreased estrogen levels and increased progesterone and prolactin levels, perhaps triggered by an inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (fsh) and stimulation of luteinizing hormonal agent (lh) levels. However, in some studies of persons getting greater dosages, fsh and lh levels stayed unchanged, while prolactin release was decreased. These results might explain why lower dosages of the herb might promote breast milk production, whereas greater doses seem to have the opposite result. (7 ).

Serious adverse effects of chasteberry– the mediterranean herb

1. May cause acne

Acne is amongst the most typical adverse results of chasteberry. The herb also causes an erythematous rash, which is soreness of the skin characterized by increased blood flow to the superficial capillaries.

2. May cause an indigestion

Though not serious, using chasteberry might cause an upset stomach. Other associated intestinal grievances might include nausea. However, this is just based on anecdotal evidence, and research study has not developed this truth.

3. Can lead to concerns 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 certain small research studies, making use of chasteberry seemed to assist accomplish pregnancy, its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding is thoroughly discouraged as its result on babies has not been well documented.

4. May cause issues during breast cancer

Chasterry has phytoestrogenic residential or commercial properties. It can mimic the impacts of estrogen in the body, a hormonal agent that plays a role in the development of women’s breasts. This way, it might disrupt specific cancers. For this reason, individuals with hormone-sensitive cancers, like that of the breast, should consult their medical professional prior to utilizing it.

5. Can hinder certain drugs and treatments

Chasteberry can hinder birth control pills. It is understood to promote fertility, and the herb might not be a good alternative if you are trying to find contraception.

Chasteberry can likewise disrupt progesterone, a hormone used in hormone replacement treatment. Hence, ladies undergoing therapy must steer clear of the herb and talk with their medical professional. (8 ).

You ought to only take chasteberry under the guidance of your healthcare provider. Although uncommon, chasteberry does produce side effects in some taking it, consisting of lightheadedness, acne-like rash, stomach upset, diarrhea, weight gain, insomnia, loss of hair, headache and heavy menstrual durations. It can trigger an allergic reaction. Inform your doctor instantly if you develop hives, problem breathing, and swelling of the mouth and face while taking chasteberry. (9 ).

How much do we understand?

There’s not a great deal of strong research on the efficiency of chasteberry for any condition. We do have some clear safety information 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 menstruation, however the evidence is not conclusive.

Researchers have studied chasteberry for infertility in females, however there isn’t enough reliable evidence to understand if it helps.

What do we know about security?

When utilized in limited quantities, chasteberry appears to be generally well endured. Negative effects are normally moderate, and might consist of nausea, headache, gastrointestinal disruptions, or itching.

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

It might not be safe for ladies with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer, to take this herb. It’s possible that chasteberry may interact 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 prior to using chasteberry.

Bear in mind

Organize your health– talk with your healthcare suppliers about any complementary health techniques you utilize. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions. (10 ).

What are the safety measures when taking this item?

  • Constantly contact your physician before you use a natural product. Some products might not blend well with drugs or other natural items.
  • Do not use this item if you are pregnant or strategy to become pregnant quickly. Use birth control you can rely on while taking this product.
  • Do not breastfeed while utilizing this product.
  • Do not utilize this item if you have health problems that are sensitive to hormones. These are issues like breast cancer and prostate cancer.
  • Take extra care if you are taking drugs which contain hormones. These are drugs like contraceptive pill and hormonal agent replacement therapy.
  • 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 additional care and talk to your medical professional if you have:

  • Mental health conditions
  • Parkinson disease
  • Uneasy legs syndrome
  • Cancer

What should I watch for?

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

When do I require to call the physician?

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.

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

Changes in menstrual periods like lots of bleeding, spotting, or bleeding in between cycles. (11 ).

Indicate keep in mind

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

Chaste tree can be found in the type of casts, capsules, and liquid extracts. Follow the guidelines on the package for the correct dosage. (12 ).


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