Keep reading to learn about the benefits of chasteberry for PMS and more.
Among the vast and varied staples that line an herbalist’s arsenal, chasteberry takes center stage when it comes to hormonal well-being. Peppery in taste and historically compelling, it’s a trusted ally for menstrual relief. Indeed, it just may be the superhero of your monthly cycle’s dreams.
Read on to see why chasteberry earns its rightful place on the top shelf of our apothecary.
What Is Chasteberry?
Chasteberry (aka vitex) is native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean. Belonging to the Verbenaceae family, the deciduous chaste tree (though it’s really more of a shrub) produces gorgeous violet flowers and medicinal berries that resemble peppercorns.
Chasteberry contains numerous medicinal constituents that give the plant its unique and powerful healing ability. Among them are:
- essential oils
The medicinal use of chasteberry dates back to ancient Greece. It flirts with celebrity, making an appearance in The Iliad, as well as writings from Pliny the Elder. Then, perhaps the most intriguing lore is that monks used it in monasteries to subdue sexual desires. (Spoiler alert: This isn’t a thing.) For that reason, it’s also known by the name “monk’s pepper.”
While this claim of lowering libido is now debunked, chasteberry is touted as one of the most effective herbs to relieve PMS symptoms.
Chasteberry for PMS
While this herb boasts a multitude of benefits, it’s perhaps best known for its power against PMS.
Chasteberry can help improve a range of PMS symptoms from moodiness to bloating. There’s also evidence that it can aid in the relief of menstrual-related:
- sleep issues
Plus, it has a particularly good track record when it comes to treating cyclical mastalgia, or menstrual-related breast pain.
How Chasteberry Works
There’s still some mystery to the mechanism by which chasteberry works. However, scientists suspect that by decreasing levels of prolactin (a stress hormone influenced by the menstrual cycle) via dopaminergic activity (say that 10 times fast), the plant helps in the management of cyclic mastalgia.
In other words, chasteberry influences dopamine production, which may have a positive effect on relieving breast tenderness.
Another theory on why chasteberry improves symptoms of PMS is that it ups the production of luteinizing hormone, while simultaneously reducing the production of follicle stimulating hormone in the pituitary gland. This helps to balance sex hormones by lowering estrogen levels and increasing progesterone levels.
Simply put, chasteberry helps regulate hormones in people who menstruate, therefore decreasing the side effects of PMS and other hormone-related issues.
Other Benefits of Chasteberry
In addition to the benefits of chasteberry for PMS, here are a few other ways in which this herb is potently protective.
It May Relieve Candida Overgrowth
Chasteberry is a powerful antimicrobial, as well as a valuable weapon against conditions that have become resistant to chemical solutions.
Studies show that this plant is particularly successful in treating drug-resistant candida albicans. For those who are unfamiliar, candida overgrowth is the most common culprit of vaginal yeast infections.
If you ask me, chasteberry really deserves a parade and a key to the city.
It May Help Clear Acne
Then, while the verdict is still officially out, a few studies suggest that its hormone-balancing properties may help clear acne.
Once proven, chasteberry should probably just start its own cult.
who should (and Shouldn’t) take it
As effective as it is, some people shouldn’t take chasteberry for PMS.
First, there’s one very important red flag: Chasteberry may render oral contraceptives less effective. Sadly, if you’re on the pill, you’ll likely want to skip this herbal supplement for now. Or, at the very least, if you’re mixing the two and are sexually active, be sure to back it up with a second form of contraception.
Then, it’s not recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, it hasn’t been confirmed as safe for children.
Finally, for patients on hormone replacement therapy, a doctor’s supervision is also mandatory, as it may make hormone therapies less effective.
Otherwise, if none of these conditions apply, chasteberry may be a beneficial ally in your monthly battle against PMS.
How To Take It
You can take chasteberry for PMS in capsule or tincture form. Note that it’s best to take capsules with food. Another option is to take dried chasteberry to ingest the fruit in all of its glory.
Generally, side effects of chasteberry are mild (if present at all). That said, some potential side effects include upset stomach, rash, dizziness, hair loss, and fatigue.
Also, if you take chasteberry while on your period, it can potentially affect your flow.
While we could sing the praises of chasteberry for PMS all day long, this is one plant that speaks for itself. The next time PMS rears its ugly head, take a deep breath and reach for your new best friend.
Looking for more period support? Check out these vitamin recommendations for hormonal imbalance and five natural ways to relieve period cramps.