What You Will Learn in This Article
- What is chasteberry?
- Traditional uses of chasteberry
- Modern uses of chasteberry, supported by science
- Biochemistry of chasteberry
- A word of caution about chasteberry adverse reactions
- How to take chasteberry
What is Chasteberry?
Chasteberry (also called chaste tree berry or vitex) is the fruit of the Chaste Tree, which is native to western Asia and southwestern Europe. Its botanical (Latin) name is Vitex agnus-castus. People have been consuming this fruit for over 2,500 years, going all the way back to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. (1) Even Plato (circa 428-348 BC) mentioned chaste berry as a potential aphrodisiac.
Traditional Uses of Chasteberry
Wise women of history used chaste berries for women’s reproductive health complaints, including menstrual flow issues and premenstrual-related symptoms, like mood disorders, breast pain, cramps, and migraines. It’s also been used to stimulate milk production in nursing mothers.
While Plato recommended taking some chasteberry to stimulate sexual desire, less is more. In higher doses, it can actually have the opposite effect. That’s why Medieval monks supposedly used chasteberry during the time of the crusades. It helped to reduce women’s sex drive while their men were away from home; hence, its nickname, monk’s pepper. However, there is no clinical data to support chaste berry for that purpose (or Plato’s either). (1)
Modern Uses of Chasteberry, Supported By Science
The most popular use for chasteberry in modern times is for premenstrual symptoms and breast pain. There are a couple of other conditions where chasteberry may be sought out, but the evidence supporting its use is limited.
The German Commission E (comparable to the United States Food and Drug Administration, FDA) has approved it for the treatment of menstrual irregularities, period-related breast pain, and PMS, so it’s commonly prescribed by family doctors and gynecologists in Germany. (1)
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Chasteberry has been studied and shown to be beneficial for PMS and its related symptoms, like mood disorders, breast pain (mastalgia), fluid retention, migraines, etc. In a study of 170 women with an average age of 36, those who had received the chasteberry over three menstrual cycles reported a significant improvement in all symptoms compared to the placebo group. (2)
A review study published in 2017 found that chasteberry was effective in treating PMS and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD — a severe form of PMS with extreme mood shifts). It helped lower inflammation and alleviate pain related to these conditions and decreased the frequency and duration of migraine attacks. (3)
The herb may work by stimulating the mu-opioid receptors of the brain to block pain. It mimics the effects of endorphins, making us feel better. (4)
Another study went on to explain that by acting like beta-endorphins, chasteberry may work by inhibiting gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in the hypothalamus, which then causes a release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland. That leads to the regulation of estrogen and progesterone production in the ovaries. (5)
The great thing about chasteberry is we know that, unlike opium from poppies, it’s been used for hundreds of years to lower pain without any addiction problems. While its pain-relieving effects only seem to apply to menstrual discomfort, chasteberry is a great natural “go-to” for PMS misery.
Chasteberry has long been used to treat breast pain associated with PMS. In a 2020 review study published in the Journal of Women’s Health, researchers included 25 studies and found that chasteberry was effective in lessening the pain and lowering blood levels of prolactin, which are associated with breast pain. The dosage ranged between 20 and 40 milligrams a day and was taken over a span of 3 months. (6)
Infertility and Miscarriage
There are several causes of infertility, and it’s thought that Chasteberry can help with a couple of causes: endometriosis and the lack of ovulation. This herb may also help stop the pattern of repeated miscarriages. However, at this point, research and evidence are still lacking.
Insufficient Milk Production
Chasteberry is sometimes used for insufficient milk production, which may improve when taken at small doses. However, researchers caution against using it for that purpose due to the lack of scientific evidence backing it up.
It’s often helpful for women going into menopause because it can raise progesterone levels, which may help ease hot flashes and night sweats. As far as research goes, there are not yet any Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) to support using chasteberry for menopause. However, many women benefit from it. In fact, many feel they can’t live without it.
Supplement companies often combine chasteberry with other herbs to create hormone-supporting formulas. In a study conducted in Israel, postmenopausal women were given a chasteberry-containing supplement twice a day for 3 months. By the end of the study, menopausal symptoms had improved significantly, including sleep issues, hot flashes, and night sweats. (7)
Biochemistry of Chasteberry
Chasteberry’s benefits for women’s health are backed up by science, yet scientists aren’t yet sure exactly how it works.
There’s some evidence that it increases dopamine and as a result, lowers prolactin, which may explain why it helps with menstrual irregularities. However, that wouldn’t make sense in the case of it stimulating milk production (in which case, it should increase prolactin). However, it may be dose-dependent, with lower amounts increasing prolactin and higher amounts doing the opposite.
Some studies also suggest it works by impacting other hormones, including luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, and progesterone.
At 400 mg daily, chasteberry supports the production of LH, which initiates ovulation. This helps increase the progesterone-to-estrogen ratio.
Adverse Reactions to Chasteberry
For some women (me included), chasteberry has the opposite effect – it causes mid-cycle spotting and my ovaries start pulsating. I know many other women who have similar reactions. It’s one of those herbs you just have to try and see how it affects you. We’re all different and we need to respect it.
How to Take Chasteberry
According to herbal reference guides, the recommended dosage of chasteberry is 30 to 40 mg once a day. However, it may be taken up to 500 to 1000 mg a day. In tincture form, the dosage is generally 0.2 mL two to three times a day but can be taken up to 3 to 5 mL a day at a 1:5 strength. Herbal practitioners often recommend taking it once daily at breakfast time.
You can find chasteberry at a dosage of 50 mg a day in our supplement, Wise Women’s Balance. Wellena’s Wise Women’s Balance (WWB) is a blend of vitamins, minerals, and botanical extracts designed to support healthy female hormone levels, both during menstruation and through menopause. It contains a synergistic blend of nutrients designed to aid the body’s natural hormonal balance.
Some of the other ingredients in this powerful formula are DIM (diindolylmethane), broccoli seed extract (glucoraphanin), and Calcium D-Glucarate. These support the liver in detoxing excess “dirty” estrogens.
Besides chasteberry, WWB also contains black cohosh to balance hormones, reduce hot flashes, and keep testosterone from converting into estrogen — reducing estrogen dominance.
B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants (green tea extract and resveratrol) further support metabolism and overall wellness.
What questions do you have about chasteberry? Have you used chasteberry with success? Leave your experience in the comments.
Learn more with Overcoming Estrogen Dominance
“The body has an amazing ability to heal. We just need to give it the right resources.”
In Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, my goal is to empower and give you the tools to take control of your hormones and health.
More than 70% of women experience estrogen dominance. The symptoms range from lumpy and fibrocystic breasts to thyroid nodules, hot flashes, fibroids, uterine polyps, painful, heavy or irregular periods to infertility and miscarriages, from mood swings to insomnia, weight gain to fatigue.
So many women have experienced the pain and frustration that comes when they feel their symptoms and complaints are dismissed or minimized. This is particularly true for women who are experiencing the symptoms of hormone imbalance. Even when doctors do offer treatment, it’s typically in the form of prescription medication or invasive surgical procedures.
In Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, I hope to show that those extreme interventions are often unnecessary, and to give women a roadmap to reverse estrogen dominance using food, herbs, supplements and natural protocols to rebalance hormones.
To get your copy of Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, go here.
- Roemheld-Hamm, Beatrix. “Chasteberry.” American family physician. 2005.
- Schellenberg, R. “Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study.” BMJ (Clinical research ed. 2001.
- Rafieian-Kopaei, Mahmoud, and Mino Movahedi. “Systematic Review of Premenstrual, Postmenstrual and Infertility Disorders of Vitex Agnus Castus.” Electronic physician. Jan. 2017.
- Webster, D E et al. “Activation of the mu-opiate receptor by Vitex agnus-castus methanol extracts: implication for its use in PMS.” Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2006.
- Webster, Donna E et al. “Opioidergic mechanisms underlying the actions of Vitex agnus-castus L.” Biochemical pharmacology. 2011.
- Ooi, Soo Liang et al. “Vitex Agnus-Castus for the Treatment of Cyclic Mastalgia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of women’s health (2002).
- Rotem, Carmela, and Boris Kaplan. “Phyto-Female Complex for the relief of hot flushes, night sweats and quality of sleep: randomized, controlled, double-blind pilot study.” Gynecological endocrinology : the official journal of the International Society of Gynecological Endocrinology. 2007.
Can you make tea with the flowers?
Hi Sara, absolutely! You can also include the leaves or root to help increase the medicinal properties. ~HB Support
Can chasteberry help with post menopausal hormonal issues and weight gain? If so, what is the recommended dosage and how long?
Is this safe to take with a history of estrogen and pr + breast cancer? I am currently reading your book, trying to treat myself naturally, without the awful pills the oncologist keeps trying to make me take!!
Hi, is it helpful for peri- menopausal women? Is there a recommendation to take in earlier in morning or evening, and how long should one be on it?
I’m currently also taking Ashwaganda and primrose oil (both in pill form) to alleviate joint pain, sleep and hot flushes, and they seem to have minimal efffect.Thanks.
Reading your article, it says that Wise women’s balance supplement has 200 mg but I see 50 mg for 2 capsule. Do I need to take 8 capsules a day ?
Hi Sylvia, Chasteberry can help raise progesterone levels which can support hormone balance post-menopause. As far as weight loss goes, since this herb can support hormone balance which in turn can support weight management, but it’s important to place the focus on other weight management strategies as well. Length would have to be determined by a clinical herbalist for these specific needs. We have seen many women in our community use Wise Women’s Balance post-menopause, the dosing information can be found above. ~HB Support
Hi Linda, it would be best to consult with an integrative practitioner, along with a clinical herbalist to determine whether this herb would be a suitable fit for you. ~HB Support
Hi Karen, this can be a wonderfully supportive herb to include during peri-menopause. We recommend taking it in the morning and consulting with a clinical herbalist to determine how long you should be taking it. The length will be determined by the dosage you are taking. Thank you! ~HB Support
Hi Emanuela, good catch! This was an error in the article. Our Wise Women’s Balance contains 100mg of Chaste extract per serving, which is two capsules. It will be best to consume the recommending serving size unless otherwise directed by a health practitioner. ~HB Support
Can I take this with ProgestPure? The ProgestPure is AMAZING and EFFECTIVE and I don’t want to stop taking it.
Is there caffeine or fructose/fructans in the ‘Wise Women’s Balance’?
Is this also good for men who might have estrogen dominance and insulin resistance, too?
Can this balance hormones after a hysterectomy due to endometrial cancer. My doctor does not want any hormone replacement.I’m completely out of balance
It seems to be for younger women. Does it help those in their 70s who have weight gain primarily around their waists and haven’t been able to get rid of it?
I am 72 and my lab work says testosterone levels is a bit high and zero estradiol. I had used bio identical HR for 20 years and discontinued about 4 months ago.
I have gained almost 15 pounds (in last 3 years) and definitely have belly fat. Can you recommend a formula to balance? I eat Whole Foods but also dairy, corn and gluten. Make all meals from scratch and organic. I exercise and am active. Thank you
Hi Monica, there are no fructose/fructans but the green tea extract does contain a small amount of caffeine. ~HB Support
Hi Virginia, this herb can be used by men or women but it will have a slightly different effect for men. ~HB Support
Hi Candi, this herb can be used in conjunction with other balancing methods i.e. diet, supplementation and lifestyle habits. It would be best to first consult with a clinical herbalist to determine whether herb would fit your needs. They have the best background to provide an accurate answer for you. ~HB Support
Hi Jackalee, it can actually be used to support women of all ages! This herb is not specifically used for weight loss, but can aid your hormones in other ways to support this process. ~HB Support
Hi Janice, elevated testosterone and recent weight gain can be supported by balancing blood sugar. If you could please send us an email at [email protected] we are happy to help provide some ideas and resources for you. ~HB Support
Hi Chasidy, you are able to take Wise Women’s Balance alongside ProgestPure. ~HB Support
Are your recipes in Estrogen Dominance book safe for men also?
Hi Vigeant, yes! Our recipes are safe for men and the whole family. ~HB Support
My prolactin level is very high that makes me discharge breast milk without breast feeding.can chaste berry help lower the prolactin level.
Hi Sed, vitex has been shown in some studies to help reduce prolactin in women with high prolactin levels. ~HB Support
Is there a certain time in our cycle that we should start taking it or anytime during our cycle is ok?
Vitex can be started at any time during the cycle and is best to continue daily for about 3 months or 3 full menstrual cycles to see its full benefit. ~HB Support
My husband has been taking 40 mg of Chasteberry in 40 mg of black cohosh to increase urine flow. What will this do to his bodily hormones. I’m worried about decrease testosterone and increased estrogen.
Hi Vanessa, these herbs can be helpful in balancing hormones even in men. These herbs can work to either support improving estrogen levels or decreasing estrogen levels depending on the body’s need. This would be a very good question to run by a functional medicine practitioner. ~HB Support
I am 55 and still in perimenopause. I started taking chasteberry to help with heavy periods and it is definitely helping with that. However I am also gaining weight rapidly despite not changing anything else. Is there any way to keep taking it but settle the weight gain?
Hi Elle, you may need to add in some liver detoxification support. Sometimes as our hormones change, if your liver is not able to detox estrogens well, sometimes your estrogen metabolites can become slightly imbalanced and “backed up” so to speak. Helping these pathways with things like broccoli sprouts and radish sprouts for their sulforaphane or taking a supplement like our Brocco Power may be of benefit to you. ~HB Support
Hi I have been taking Chasteberry and noticed some mid cycle spotting like you described for yourself. Does this mean I should not be taking chasteberry and if is not helping my hormones?
Hi Jennifer, if you are having mid-cycle spotting, this herb may not be the right hormonal support herb for you, or you need to combine it with other herbs to balance out this effect. ~HB Support
I’m 64 and still have hot flashes at night. I lost thirty pounds during 2020-2022 but suddenly my body has decided to gain some back. Activity is high level, I count calories and keep a food diary, plus I eat super healthy. Will vitex help with both hot flashes and weight gain? I’m more upset about the weight gain then the hot flashes. What do you suggest?
Hi Melissa, vitex may be a good option to try for you. You may want to give our Wise Women’s Balance a look as it also contains Black Cohosh which some women find very helpful for hot flashes. You might also look into topical progesterone like our ProgestPure oil or cream as this can sometimes be helpful in balancing the estrogen and diminishing hormonal weight gain. ~HB Support
Hi, I started taking chasteberry in November 2022. It relieves my pms symptoms I started to have when I turned 30 years old. I start to feel relief it seems immediately after taking two capsules at the same time. I then spend the rest of my day in relief not having to worry about breast tenderness, nausea, or being angry for no reason. I have regular periods, the date it used to arrive used to change. Arriving a week later than predicted almost every month. Now my period arrives on schedule every month, not a day late. I noticed it comes a day early. So far I love chasteberry and very grateful to found it to support a healthy cycle. P.S. Although I do not use this brand, I fully support the use of chasteberry to relieve pms symptoms.
Hi Dominique, that’s so wonderful to hear! WE are so happy you have had such a positive experience using chasteberry. ~HB Support
I started taking Vitex about 2 weeks ago for some dizziness suspected to be a perimenopausal symptom. The supplement is a 400mg Whole Berry capsule. It was suggested to me to take 100mg so I’ve been opening it and splitting in over 3 days. My question is dosage for whole berry vs fruit extract. Should I be taking the full 400mg since it is whole berry?
58 year old female. Post Menopausal. Just had both Oophorectomy and Hysterectomy. Hot flashes are back and very intense now. Night sweats are severe, as is the insomnia. As I have no way to stimulate estrogen levels (no ovaries), will chaste berries be of any benefit?