Guest Author - Linda Heywood
Vitex Agnus Castus is also known as Chaste Berry or Abraham’s Balm. The leaves, stems, flowers and seeds are used for medical purposes specifically for female reproductive problems. Known as Chaste Berry because it is said to be anaphrodisiac – to cool the heat of lust, it is said to be aphrodisiac too. A naughty little herb used in sexual therapy.
The medicinal compounds found in Vitex Agnus Castus are:
• Flavonoids - meaning yellow, and collectively known as Vitamin P
• Alkaloids - chemical compounds the contain basic nitrogen atoms
• Vitexin - a chemical found in Agnus Castus, bamboo leaves and passion flowers
• Casticin - is a flavonoid collected from the flowers and leaves
• Hormones - the sex hormones estradiol and testosterone.
It is believed that the chemicals in Vitex Agnus Castus work on the pituitary gland in the brain to restore hormone levels by increasing the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen and balancing excess oestrogen. It is used to alleviate gynaecological problems and to give you an example of how this herb works I am going to tell you how it affected my life.
Since I began my menses at the age of twelve they had always been heavy and irregular. I went through my teen years dreading holidays and sleep-overs because I could start bleeding at any time.
I had my first child in 1981 and for the next six years I neither took nor used contraceptives. My menses continued to be irregular and very heavy so after a little research I decided to try Vitex Agnus Castus tablets and tea bought from a health food shop.
For the first three days of taking Vitex Agnus Castus I had terrible stomach cramps but I persisted and these symptoms passed. I tried the herb in both tea and tablet form. I drank the tea during the day for a month but I have to tell you the tea is very bitter and not very pleasant to drink, so I decided to take only the tablets.
After three months the first thing I noticed was that my periods were no longer as heavy as they had been. They started coming regularly at 27-29 day intervals instead of the irregular 10 – 21 days before I started taking Vitex Angus Castus. This was encouraging and I started to look forward to my menses rather than dreading them. I carried on taking the tablets for six months.
I was totally unprepared for what happened next. I got pregnant! For six years after the birth of my first child, even though I had not been trying to conceive, I had not even had a scare. My periods were so erratic that I never actually thought I would get pregnant again, but I did. It seems the chemicals in the plant had regulated my periods and my ovulation had returned to normal. Since the birth of my second child my periods continued to be regular until I reached menopause.
Vitex Agnus Castus should not be taken during pregnancy as it can cause miscarriage and complications. I stopped as soon as I realised I was pregnant.
Vitex Agnus Castus can be bought in tincture, tea (the seeds of Vitex Agnus Castus) or tablets from most health food stores and can be found on-line.