The healing power of Agnus Castus
Spagyric plant of the month: Vitex Agnus Castus.
Also known as Vitex, Monk’s pepper, Wild pepper, Chaste Tree, Chasteberry, Chaste lamb tree
“Take a stand – find peace and balance”
A wonderful plant for emotions and the menstrual cycle. The”go to” for luteal deficiencies i.e. too short 2nd half of your cycle, PMT, PMS, heavy periods, hormonal balance, peri menopause, andropause (oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, prolactin)
The German Commission classifies Agnus Castus as a safe herb to use in any conditions that are caused by hormonal imbalances, such as PMS, bloating, tender or painful breasts, moodiness, depression, headaches, acne etc as well as menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats PLUS it is also used to support conception and reduce the risk of miscarriage.
Vitex Agnus Castus originates from the Mediterranean but we can grow it within the UK. We tend to use the fruit and berries in plant medicine. Agnus Castus is known for gynaecological complaints, a graceful bush/small tree looks a bit like a cross between a buddleia and a hemp plant, with its purple flower cones, and soft, five-fingered leaves. It is a member of the vervain family.
Did you know that allegedly monks used it to suppress all wicked urges and nuns would line their bedding with the leaves in the hopes that the herb would help them maintain their innocence and withstand their own sexual desires? Having said this Plato the Greek philosopher and naturalist considered it an aphrodisiac.
Benefits of Vitex Agnus Castus – hormonal, skin, nervous and digestive system
It’s an adaptogen influencing the pituitary and adrenal glands
Able to both dampen and heighten sexual desire
Helps normalise hormone balance
Herbalists consider Chasteberry a natural source of progesterone that can help to balance the ratio of oestrogen to progesterone. It has been used to successfully jump start the regular menstrual cycle and can be especially useful when coming off the birth control pill.
Menstruation matters Agnus Castus contains compounds that send the pituitary gland a signal to increase luteinizing hormone production to make progesterone production spike. This helps fertility, conceptual support, pre-menopausal, peri-menopausal and menopausal women. It is a progesterone imbalance which is responsible for the feelings of anxiety, stress and panic associated with hormonal imbalances in addition to tension headaches, palpitations and digestive problems.
Miscarriage and infertility: Progesterone is needed to thicken the uterine lining, and help with luteal phase defects—the period between ovulation and menstruation during a woman’s menstrual cycle which is typically 10-17 days long.
Digestive: digestive spasms, bearing down sensations, digestive heaviness, flatulence, nausea after meals, dull pain in the liver area, congestion and soreness of the spleen, constipation with bulky stools, chronic diarrhoea in adults, irritation, anal fissures
Nervous: pains and itching, fragile nervous system, never feeling well, depressed, feel sad, old, anxious, anticipate the worst, hypochondria, mood swings, poor self esteem, interrupted sleep, headaches
Skin: premenstrual acne, multiple itching, hair loss, acne rosacea
Joints: pains in limbs and joints
Menopause – and perimenopause. The hormone balancing qualities of Agnus castus helps to counteract hot flushes and anxiety. It can be combined with other herbs such as Black cohosh, Dong Quai for maximum effect.
Men: erectile dysfunction, sexual breakdown, painful testicles, male menopause (andropause), early aging, balance testosterone levels, low libido, fertility. Use post vasectomy
Cardiovascular: anxiety in the heart region, anaemia, weak pulse
Urinary tract: urinate more during the night. Have an abundant urine which is cloudy and burning
The healing power of Agnus Castus
One study in German evaluated 1542 women who were diagnosed with PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome). The women took Agnus Castus daily for 166 days, with 90% reporting relief of symptoms after an average treatment duration of 25.3 days.
A 3 month trial by Coeugniet treated 36 patients with PMS with a dose of 40 drops of tincture per day. This produced a reduction in headaches, breast tenderness, bloating and fatigue, anxiety and mood swings.
In one clinical trial, 48 women (ages 23 to 39) who had all been diagnosed with infertility took Chasteberry once daily for three months. During the three-month trial period, seven women became pregnant, 25 women normalized their progesterone levels (32 in total)
The energy and healing power of Agnus Castus
Hippocrates commented, “If blood flows from the womb, let the woman drink dark wine in which the leaves of the Vitex have been steeped.”
Goddess connection: The female mysteries of Demeter and Persephone/ Kore celebrated during the festival of Thesmophoria, which honoured the cycles of renewal and fertility. During the 3 day ‘women’s only’ festival Agnus Castus leaves were used as bedding since they were thought to increase fertility and enhance the life-giving powers of the Goddess. I personally associate it with the Egyptian midwife – Tauret together with clary sage. Anyway, as men were absent from these festivities Agnus Castus became wrongly associated with chastity, rather than fertility.
Helps you to say “No” – deconstructing old patterns and progress from “victim” to “creativity or progression”. Put simply it acts as a doorway to rebuild at a higher vibrational levels (whether personal self-esteem/”self punishment/negative/lower energy” (note upper and lower brain)
It increases psychic receptivity and used during times of spiritual transformation and renewal.
the standard dose is 40 drops of tincture daily for at least 12 weeks. Chaste tree is a slow acting herb, it usually takes several months to show benefit, except in cases of lactation, which often improve within a few weeks.
Spagyric tincture including my TTC remedy: 45 – 60 drops per day
Dry herb – Take 2-3 mls of tincture 2-3 times per day.
Agnus Castus has never been linked to any significant side effects, but minor problems are possible. Stomach upsets, itching and rashes have been noted. Agnus Castus must not be given to pre pubescent girls nor during pregnancy although you can use it to ease post natal depression. It is important to speak with your health care practitioner before changing your health care programme.