Chaste tree is a bushy, deciduous shrub, probably native to the Mediterranean, but now also found in Asia and North America; it likes dry and hot climates.
Its greyish green leaves above and whitish below, are fingered, pleasantly fragrant when crumpled.
The flowers in terminal spikes are purple or purplish, the fruit that follows (purple to dark red) looks like black pepper especially when it is dry.
The medicinal parts are the leaves, the flowering tops and especially the fruits.
It is a plant used since Greek antiquity (Hippocrates), but also in Rome (Pliny), then in medieval monasteries to regulate sexual function and as anaphrodisiac in men (hence its name "l ' chaste tree ")
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
Fruits and leaves contain:
• flavonoids: casticine, vitexin, penduletin,
• iridoids: including aucuboside and agnuside,
• many diterpenes,
• essential oil (about 0.5%) containing a mixture of mono and sesquiterpenes,
• some authors add the presence of steroids.
Casticin and agnuside serve as an indicator to control the quality of the phytomedicine and to standardize chaste tree extracts.
The extract of the Chasteberry fruit prvent the release of prolactin by the pituitary gland.
Prolactin is an important hormone whose natural secretion is under the control of hypothalamus (which promotes its secretion) and dopamine (which acts as an inhibitor of its secretion).
The main targets of prolactin are the mammary gland and luteal corpus luteum (present in the ovary throughout pregnancy and temporarily during the menstrual cycle).
An hypersecretion of prolactin causes many disorders in women, including premenstrual syndrome, breast pain and sometimes infertility.
Recent studies have shown that some chaste tree diterpenes act on prolactin-secreting cells in the same way as dopamine, ie by opposing its secretion.
Chasteberry flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and chaste tree essential oil is slightly antiseptic.
Chaste tree is recommended to treat irregularities of the menstrual cycle, to limit the premenstrual syndrome and painful mastalgia (breast pain) periodically.
Other indications may be added: common acne as well as the deficiency of milk secretion in breastfeeding women.
Premenstrual syndrome :
Several studies with placebo group; treatment usually for 3 months; 30% clear improvement in symptoms and 50% partial improvement. 4 to 10% unpleasant side effects that may result in discontinuation of treatment. In some comparative studies (Chasteberry against Vitamin B6), the reduction of PMS symptoms is similar or sometimes better with chaste tree extracts.
These breast pains (usually premenstrual) are alleviated or disappear after 3 months of treatment with chaste tree extracts.
Insufficiency of milk secretion:
There is no recent study, but it is a traditional indication.
Disorders due to hyperprolactinemia:
Several studies (in Germany) show that chaste tree is very useful in case of dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea or excessive or irregular menstrual flow.
Improvement is not felt before several weeks of teatment.
Chasteberry may be useful in hormone-dependent acne, treatment must be extended for several months
Positive results have been obtained after 3 to 6 months of treatment with chaste tree, but caution should be exercised when artificial fertilization is envisaged, as these same chaste tree extracts could, it seems, prevent artificial fertilization by causing bad implantation of the fetus.
Chasteberry was traditionally used in the pre-menopausal period, but this indication is a little outdated
As often there is a lack a good standardization for this phytomedicine.
There are several pharmaceutical specialties based on chaste tree extracts (especially in Germany).
Some extracts are standardized in casticine, others in agnuside.
We can also use:
Chaste tree ethanolic tincture (1/10) : 30 drops one to three times a day.
The dry extract of Chasteberry: 3 to 5 mg per day.
The dry fruit of chaste tree: about one gram per day.
dry leaves of chaste tree: 3 to 5 grams per day
Precautions: Chaste tree seems to have an action such as dopamine (dopaminergic), so be careful when using drugs that act on the dopamine receptors. Caution also when one already uses a hormonal treatment, the extracts of chaste tree can modify the effect.
CHASTE TREE and PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME
Chaste Tree is a bushy Mediterranean shrub with purple flowers and aromatic foliage whose fruit has been known since ancient times as a regulator of sexuality and menstruation. It is indeed a useful plant to alleviate premenstrual syndrome and breast pain that accompany it in general. Some cases of female infertility have been corrected thanks to it as well as hormone-dependent acne.
Copyright 2019 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel