Monk’s pepper


An extract made from the fruit of the chaste tree (vitex agnus-castus) discovered in parts of asia and europe. It is claimed to deal with infertility and to reduce symptoms that might occur prior to or during a woman’s menstrual duration, such as headaches and irregular bleeding. Monk’s pepper might affect levels of reproductive hormonal agents in the blood. It is a kind of phytomedicine. Also called chaste tree berry and vitex. (1 )

Further introduction

Order: mint order of flowering plants (lamiales).

Family: mint family (lamiaceae).

Subfamily: viticoideae.

Genus: vitex.

Origin and distribution:

Mediterranean region across southwest asia towards krim and approximately pakistan.

Efficient ingredients:

Important oil, flavonoids, iridoid glycosides, sesquiterpenes, triterpenes (2 ).

Chasteberry, monk’s pepper, agnus castus– the history of the plant names

There are frequently fascinating stories behind the name of a plant– also in the case of monk’s pepper. The part of the name “pepper” originates from the fruit, which look like peppercorns and taste hot. However why “monk”? This name most likely comes from the truth that the medical plant was thought to minimize the libido in the center ages. According to middle ages sources, they were utilized as an anaphrodisiac, i.e. The reverse of an aphrodisiac. Monks are stated to have consumed the monk’s pepper fruits and slept on the leaves of the plant to diminish their libido and to suppress the “wicked sins of the flesh”. This is likewise reflected in conventional names of the plant such as chaste tree or chasteberry. The latin name agnus castus has a similar significance and translates something like “virginal lamb”. However, clinical research on female patients has actually not validated the purported anaphrodisiac impact (reduction of the sex drive) of monk’s pepper fruit.

Ingredients and effect of monk’s pepper

Vitex agnus-castus contains, among others, essential oils, diterpenes, flavonoids and iridoid glycosides (for example, aucubin and agnuside). Extracts from the dried fruit of the medical plant are utilized for organic solutions. These minimise the release of the prolactin hormone, possibly by means of a dopamin related mechanism of action. Prolactin is accountable for the development of the female breasts during pregnancy. During the breastfeeding duration, prolactin ensures that breast milk is produced. Scientists have been able to show that pms syndrome and an irregular cycle in females might be gotten in touch with an increased level of prolactin. (3 ).


Chastetree is a non-native shrub or tree which does best in hot weather. In cooler climates, it can be severely pruned to the ground and will usually grow back. It can suffer winter dieback or will die to the ground in usda zones 5 and 6; nevertheless, the roots typically survive and rise a number of feet of new growth the list below year. Pruning can be carried out in early spring as blooming happens on new wood. Due to this trait, dieback will not impact flowering. Prune faded flowers to promote continuous blooming. Blooming will be more amazing if the plant is greatly pruned after blooming.

This tree is resistant to damage by deer and is moderately salt tolerant. It has good dry spell tolerance as soon as developed. It freely reseeds and can end up being weedy.

In warmer environments, it can be trained to grow as a small, single trunk tree or a big shrub. Although usually grown as a 10-15 foot shrub, in tree form it can reach heights of as much as 20 feet. This long-lived specimen’s fast growth rate can add up to 24 inches each year in height.

Some smaller cultivars like ‘blue diddley’ and ‘blue puffball’ can be grown as 3 to 6 foot shrubs; other cultivars such as ‘cooke’s blue’, ‘cooke’s pink’, or ‘cooke’s purple’ can grow as high as 25 to 30 feet with the very same spread. There are likewise lots of cultivars of numerous sizes in between.

This plant has the prospective to become intrusive, especially in southern areas of the nation. Its dry fruit can be a litter problem.

Bugs, illness, and other plant problems: thrips can trigger damage. It is the only recognized host for hyalesthus obsoletus and can be used as a biological control agent by planting it around vineyards to trap this cicada. Root rot can happen in too damp soils. (4 ).

Improves conditions affecting females’s reproductive systems

Vitex agnus-castus is particularly understood for its ability to improve conditions affecting a woman’s reproductive system.

Alleviates signs of premenstrual syndrome (pms)

One of the most popular and well-researched characteristics of vitex agnus-castus is its ability to decrease signs of pms.

These include:.

  • Constipation
  • Irritation
  • Depressed state of mind
  • Migraines
  • Breast discomfort and inflammation

Researchers believe that vitex works by reducing levels of the hormonal agent prolactin. This assists rebalance other hormonal agents, including estrogen and progesterone– therefore reducing pms symptoms.

In one study, females with pms took vitex agnus-castus during 3 consecutive menstrual cycles. In total, 93 percent of those given vitex reported a reduction in pms symptoms, consisting of:.

  • Depression
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Yearnings

However, the study didn’t consist of a control group, and placebo impacts can’t be ruled out.

In two smaller sized research studies, ladies with pms were given 20 mg of vitex agnus-castus daily or a placebo for three menstruations.

Twice as many ladies in the vitex group reported a decrease in signs consisting of irritability, mood swings, headaches and breast fullness, compared to those provided the placebo.

Vitex agnus-castus also appears to help in reducing cyclic mastalgia, a type of breast discomfort linked to menstruation. Research study suggests that it might be as efficient as common drug treatment– but with far fewer negative effects.

However, 2 recent reviews report that although vitex appears helpful in lowering pms symptoms, its benefits may be overstated.

Better-designed studies might be needed in the past strong conclusions can be made.

May minimize menopause signs

The hormone-balancing impacts of vitex agnus-castus may likewise assist eliminate symptoms of menopause.

In one research study, vitex oils were given to 23 women in menopause. Ladies reported enhanced menopause symptoms, including much better state of mind and sleep. Some even regained their duration.

In a follow-up research study 52 additional pre- and postmenopausal women were given a vitex cream. Of the research study individuals, 33 percent experienced significant enhancements, and another 36 percent reported moderate enhancements in signs, consisting of night sweats and hot flashes.

Nevertheless, not all research studies have actually observed benefits. One recent and larger double-blind, randomized, controlled trial– the gold standard in research– provided ladies a placebo or an everyday tablet consisting of a mix of vitex and st. John’s wort.

After 16 weeks, the vitex supplement was no more efficient than the placebo at minimizing hot flashes, anxiety or any other menopausal symptoms.

Bear in mind that in lots of research studies reporting benefits, females were supplied with supplements that mixed vitex agnus-castus with other herbs. For that reason, it’s hard to separate the effects of vitex alone.

Might improve fertility

Vitex may improve female fertility due to its possible result on prolactin levels.

This might be specifically real in ladies with luteal phase flaw, or a shortened 2nd half of the menstruation. This disorder is connected to unusually high prolactin levels and makes it tough for ladies to conceive.

In one research study, 40 females with abnormally high prolactin levels were provided either 40 mg of vitex agnus-castus or a pharmaceutical drug. Vitex was as efficient as the drug in reducing prolactin levels.

In another research study in 52 women with luteal stage flaw, 20 mg of vitex resulted in lower prolactin levels and extended menstrual phases, while individuals provided a placebo saw no advantage.

Yet another research study offered 93 ladies– who had unsuccessfully tried to conceive over the last 6– 36 months– a supplement consisting of vitex agnus-castus or a placebo.

After 3 months, women in the vitex group experienced an enhanced hormonal agent balance– and 26 percent of them conceived. In contrast, just 10 percent of those in the placebo group became pregnant.

Remember that the supplement held a mix of other active ingredients, making it difficult to separate the results of vitex.

Irregular periods can also hamper ladies in planning a pregnancy. Three additional research studies report that vitex is more efficient than a placebo in improving menstruations in ladies with irregular durations.


Vitex agnus-castus might minimize symptoms of pms and menopause, though research study results are combined. By potentially decreasing prolactin hormone levels and supporting menstrual periods, it may also boost fertility.

Helps prevent insect bites

Vitex might also help keep a range of pests at bay.

In one study, an extract made from vitex seeds helped fend off mosquitoes, flies, ticks, and fleas for about six hours.

Another study revealed that a spray containing vitex and other plant extracts protected against head lice for a minimum of 7 hours.

Research even more reveals that vitex may eliminate lice larva and hamper adult lice reproduction.


Vitex agnus-castus might offer some security versus bugs, particularly mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas, and head lice.

Other prospective advantages

Vitex might likewise provide a variety of additional benefits, including:.

Decreased headaches. In one research study, women prone to migraines given vitex daily for three months minimized the number of headaches they experienced during their menstruations by 66 percent (28trusted source). Nevertheless, the study didn’t consist of a control group, making it difficult to understand whether vitex was responsible for these benefits.

Antibacterial and antifungal impacts. Test-tube studies reveal that essential oils made from vitex might battle damaging fungi and germs, consisting of staphylococcus and salmonella germs (29trusted source, 30trusted source). Keep in mind that necessary oils ought to not be taken in, and vitex supplements are not likely to decrease the danger of infections.

Lowered swelling. Test-tube and animal studies suggest that substances in vitex may have anti-inflammatory residential or commercial properties. However, their impacts aren’t stronger than those of aspirin.

Bone repair work. In one study, ladies with bone fractures given a mix of vitex and magnesium had a little increased markers for bone repair work than those offered a placebo.

Epilepsy prevention. Animal studies recommend that vitex may decrease the possibility of epileptic seizures.

That said, research study supporting these benefits is restricted. More studies are required before strong conclusions can be drawn.


Vitex may provide several other advantages, however the proof is weak. More research study is required prior to any claims can be made.

Common misconceptions

Vitex has been traditionally utilized to deal with a wide range of conditions. However, many of its usages are currently unsupported by clinical evidence.

The most popular unverified usages consist of:

Breastfeeding. While an old research study postulated that vitex may enhance milk supply in nursing ladies, the general evidence is weak and questionable.

Pain decrease. Though research links vitex to numbed discomfort receptors in rats, no human studies have been done.

Treating endometriosis. Vitex might stabilize hormone imbalances, which could theoretically minimize symptoms of endometriosis, a female gynecologic condition. Nevertheless, no studies confirm this.

Baldness avoidance. The hormone-balancing impacts of vitex are sometimes claimed to enhance hair growth in guys. Nevertheless, no research can be found to support this claim.

Acne treatment. Three research studies assert that vitex might minimize acne faster than standard treatments. Nevertheless, these research studies are years old. Newer research hasn’t confirmed these results.


While vitex agnus-castus is utilized as an alternative remedy to treat numerous signs, lots of supposed advantages are not backed by research. (5 ).

Insufficient proof to rate efficiency for …

Bleeding. Research study suggests that taking vitex agnus-castus 3 times daily from the very first daily of menstruation until day 8 of the cycle for 4 cycles decreases bleeding brought on by an intrauterine device.

Frequent breast discomfort. Early research recommends that vitex agnus-castus alone or in an option including vitex agnus-castus plus 5 other herbs (mastodynon, bionorica ag) may alleviate reoccurring breast pain. Other early research study recommends that taking vitex agnus-castus daily for 3 months is as effective for lowering breast discomfort as the medication flurbiprofen.

  • Enlarged prostate.
  • Eye pain.
  • Increasing lactation.
  • Menopausal signs.
  • Avoidance of miscarriage.
  • Other conditions.

Possibly inadequate for …

Fractures. Research recommends that taking a particular vitex agnus-castus extract (agnugol, goldaru drug store business, isfanhan, iran) alone or together with magnesium oxide (nature made business, U.S.A.) daily for 8 weeks does not improve bone fracture healing in women. (6 ).


The berry of the chaste tree includes a number of active constituents: flavonoids (i.e., casticin, kaempferol, orientin, quercetagetin, and isovitexin), iridoid glycosides (i.e., agnuside and aucubin), and vital oils (i.e., limonene, cineol, pinene, and sabinene). Chasteberry shows main dopaminergic activity in vitro and in vivo. This dopaminergic impact inhibits basal- and thyrotropin-releasing hormonal agent– stimulated prolactin release.

Chasteberry’s healing results are credited to its indirect results on various hormonal agents, specifically prolactin and progesterone. This hormone result appears to be dose-dependent: low doses of extract have actually resulted in reduced estrogen levels and increased progesterone and prolactin levels, perhaps caused by an inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (fsh) and stimulation of luteinizing hormonal agent (lh) levels. However, in some studies of individuals getting higher dosages, fsh and lh levels stayed unchanged, while prolactin release was decreased. These results may describe why lower dosages of the herb might stimulate breast milk production, whereas greater doses appear to have the opposite effect. (7 ).

Serious adverse effects of chasteberry– the mediterranean herb

1. May trigger acne

Acne is among the most typical unfavorable effects of chasteberry. The herb likewise triggers an erythematous rash, which is redness of the skin characterized by increased blood circulation to the superficial blood vessels.

2. May cause an upset stomach

Though not serious, making use of chasteberry may cause an indigestion. Other related intestinal complaints may consist of queasiness. Nevertheless, this is just based on anecdotal evidence, and research study has actually not developed this reality.

3. Can result in problems during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Using chasteberry during pregnancy and breastfeeding is questionable. There is poor evidence to support if using chasteberry during pregnancy can in fact prevent miscarriages.

Though in specific little research studies, the use of chasteberry appeared to assist attain pregnancy, its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding is completely dissuaded as its result on babies has not been well documented.

4. May cause issues throughout breast cancer

Chasterry has phytoestrogenic residential or commercial properties. It can mimic the results of estrogen in the body, a hormone that contributes in the advancement of ladies’s breasts. In this manner, it may hinder certain cancers. For this reason, individuals with hormone-sensitive cancers, like that of the breast, should consult their medical professional prior to using it.

5. Can interfere with certain drugs and therapies

Chasteberry can hinder birth control pills. It is known to promote fertility, and the herb may not be a great choice if you are trying to find birth control.

Chasteberry can likewise interfere with progesterone, a hormonal agent utilized in hormonal agent replacement treatment. For this reason, ladies going through treatment needs to avoid the herb and speak with their doctor. (8 ).

You should just take chasteberry under the supervision of your health care company. Although rare, chasteberry does produce side effects in some taking it, including dizziness, acne-like rash, indigestion, diarrhea, weight gain, sleeping disorders, hair loss, headache and heavy menstrual durations. It can cause an allergic reaction. Inform your physician right away if you establish hives, trouble breathing, and swelling of the mouth and face while taking chasteberry. (9 ).

Just how much do we know?

There’s not a lot of strong research on the effectiveness of chasteberry for any condition. We do have some clear safety information on the herb.

What have we learned?

Preliminary studies suggest that chasteberry might be useful for signs of premenstrual syndrome and for breast pain related to the menstruation, but the evidence is not conclusive.

Scientists have actually studied chasteberry for infertility in ladies, but there isn’t sufficient reliable proof to understand if it assists.

What do we understand about safety?

When utilized in limited quantities, chasteberry seems normally well tolerated. Negative effects are generally moderate, and might consist of queasiness, headache, gastrointestinal disturbances, or itching.

Taking chasteberry during pregnancy or while breastfeeding may not be safe.

It might not be safe for females with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer, to take this herb. It’s possible that chasteberry may connect with some medicines, such as contraceptive pill, drugs used to treat parkinson’s illness, and drugs used to treat psychosis. If you’re taking medicine, talk with your health care service provider prior to using chasteberry.

Bear in mind

Take charge of your health– talk with your healthcare providers about any complementary health approaches you utilize. Together, you can make shared, educated choices. (10 ).

What are the safety measures when taking this item?

  • Constantly contact your medical professional before you utilize a natural item. Some products may not mix well with drugs or other natural products.
  • Do not use this product if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant quickly. Use contraception you can rely on while taking this item.
  • Do not breastfeed while utilizing this product.
  • Do not use this item if you have health problems that are sensitive to hormones. These are issues like breast cancer and prostate cancer.
  • Take additional care if you are taking drugs that contain hormones. These are drugs like birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.
  • Take extra care if you are taking drugs that affect dopamine levels. These are drugs like levodopa-carbidopa (sinemet), ropinirole (requip), and pramipexole (mirapex).

Take additional care and contact your medical professional if you have:

  • Mental health conditions
  • Parkinson disease
  • Agitated legs syndrome
  • Cancer

What should I expect?

  • Upset stomach
  • Tiredness
  • Acne
  • Changes in sexual capability or desire
  • Rash

When do I need to call the doctor?

Signs of an extremely bad response. These consist of wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat. Go to the right now.

  • Extremely bad throwing up
  • Extremely bad loose stools
  • Really bad headache

Modifications in menstrual durations like lots of bleeding, identifying, or bleeding in between cycles. (11 ).

Indicate note

Do not use chaste tree if you take any medicines, herbs, or other supplements. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist first.

Chaste tree comes in the type of tinctures, pills, and liquid extracts. Follow the guidelines on the package for the right dose. (12 ).


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1 thought on “Monk’s pepper”

  1. Where do you recommend purchasing chaste tree berries in a liquid form or what form is best? I need to reduce my male sexual appetite. Any help?


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