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Chaste Tree - The medicinal plant in women's complaints

Chaste Tree - The medicinal plant in women's complaints

The chaste tree is the plant for women's complaints of almost any kind. Whether premenstrual syndrome, breast sensitivity, menstrual disorders or painful menstrual bleeding: The chaste tree has been considered for thousands of years as a natural helper for all these complaints. Even with mental problems such as premenstrual dysphoric studies certify the chaste tree a good effect. Also during menopause or in fertility disorders, the chaste tree can be helpful.

Chaste tree: Ancient medicinal plant

The Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is a member of the mint family, as are many other spice and medicinal plants, such as basil, lavender or sage. In contrast to these rather short-lived perennials, however, the chaste tree is a shrub up to four meters high. It is widespread throughout the Mediterranean up to West Asia and feels particularly in water-rich areas such as coasts, rivers and floodplain forests.

The chaste tree has been used medicinally for millennia. According to sources, he was already a very respected plant in ancient times. While its tough and hard twigs were used to make wicker fences, the flowers, leaves and seeds, and especially the red-black colored, fleshy fruit (Agni casti fructus) were used in injuries and flatulence, but primarily in various types of gynecological disorders. In addition, the fruits served as a pepper substitute due to their spicy flavor.

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Chaste tree and its ritual meaning

The chaste tree also had a great ritual significance. The ancient Greeks used it to ward off danger, to preserve chastity, but also to increase fertility.

This is reminiscent of an ancient mysterious festival, the thesmophoria, the u. a. in Athens in honor of the fertility goddess Demeter. It is significant that only women were allowed to participate, while the men had to finance the festival.

The flowers of the monk's pepper were used by the women as jewelry, the leaves placed on their camp. This should help to remain chaste during the thesmophoria. At the same time the women hoped for a long-term increased fertility through the effect of the monk's pepper. After three days, a big banquet with dances and games was held.

The chaste tree and the love lust

In the Middle Ages, the chaste tree was used by monks and nuns to suppress their love of lust, as the German terms chaste tree, chaste lamb or chaste tree indicate. So in the monasteries drank monk's tea and the soft foliage served - as in ancient times - as a chaste bed.

On the other hand, the chaste tree was also used to increase libido. How can these conflicting fields of action be reconciled? The secret is outlined below under "Chaste Tree: The Influence of Influence".

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The ingredients

In medicine, the fruits of the monk's pepper are usually used today. They mostly come from wild collection and are mainly imported from Albania and Morocco. Although you can also use the chasteberry fruits for tea. If you want to use the chaste tree but specifically for therapeutic purposes, then extracts are much better.

Dry extracts in capsules or tinctures are available. Extracts have the advantage that in the production of all active ingredients in sufficient quantities in the corresponding preparations pass - even the insoluble or poorly soluble, which is not the case with tea.

The essential oil

Chasteberry fruits contain 0.15 to 1.8 percent of essential oil. Its main ingredient are the so-called terpenes, which are among the phytochemicals and are very sparingly soluble in water, eg. B.:

  • sabinen is responsible for the peppery taste of chaste (and also pepper) and acts against inflammation, fungi and microbes.
  • 1,8-cineol unfolds in the lungs and sinuses a bactericidal and expectorant effect and can, according to a study on Bonn University Hospital to be helpful in asthma.
  • alpha-pinene has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects, expands the bronchi at low doses and is used in traditional Chinese medicine against cancer.

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The phytochemicals

In addition, there are plenty of other phytochemicals in the chaste tree:

  • antioxidant flavonoids (eg casticin)
  • Astringent (astringent) tannins
  • diterpenes
  • Iridoids or iridoid glycosides such as aucubin and agnuside

Aucubin has an anti-inflammatory, irritating and antibiotic effect and is z. B. also contained in ribwort juice, which does not mold because of this active ingredient. Agnusid also has an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effect.

Italian researchers from the University of Messina only in 2017 have shown that chasteberry is able to prevent the formation of new blood vessels in tumor cells. A study on Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine has shown, however, that agnuside has a positive effect on the immune defense and can be helpful in the treatment of arthritis.

Crucial here is that the pharmacological effect of the monk's pepper is not attributed to individual drugs, but on the interaction of all ingredients.

Approved medical applications

The chaste tree is said to have many beneficial effects, but only a few applications are considered safe on the basis of appropriate clinical studies. These include, according to the Commission E and the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) the following:

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS, including irritability and restlessness)
  • Breast sensitivity (mastodynia)
  • Menstrual disorders (irregular menstrual period)
  • Menstrual cramps (eg painful menstrual bleeding)

The chaste tree has these very different effects, in particular because it influences the prolactin balance. Prolactin is a hormone with many functions: It is responsible for the growth of the mammary gland during pregnancy and lactation during lactation, during which time ovulation is also suppressed. In addition, the hormone has an effect on the psyche, because it contributes to the fact that humans and also animals take care of their offspring (brood care).

Prolactin is formed in the anterior lobe of the hypophysis (pituitary gland). The secretion of prolactin from the pituitary gland is influenced by various other hormones and messengers. Estrogen, for example, promotes secretion (increases the level of prolactin), dopamine inhibits it (thus lowers the level of prolactin).

The consequences of too high a prolactin level

If the prolactin levels are permanently increased, although neither a pregnancy is present nor a baby is breastfed, this can lead to health problems. It will u. a. following disorders and diseases have been associated with increased prolactin levels.

  • Inhibition of ovulation
  • Irregular or missed menstruation
  • endometriosis
  • Infertility or unfulfilled desire for children
  • Hypothyroidism
  • dopamine deficiency
  • Mental illness
  • Prolactinoma (benign tumor of the pituitary gland)
  • estrogen dominance
  • In men: testosterone deficiency, impotence, libido disorders

Too low prolactin levels are comparatively rare and can be caused by certain drugs, the z. B. be prescribed in Parkinson's disease, caused or suggest a hypofunction of the hypophysis.

How does chasteberry reduce prolactin levels?

Chasteberry inhibits the release of prolactin because the diterpenes it contains bind to the dopamine receptors (dopamine 2 receptors). They thus act similar to dopamine, thus imitating the action of dopamine. According to a study at the University of Göttingen Chasteberry is as good as dopamine for prolactin inhibition.

However, the chasteberry acts in this way only if it is in the form of extracts and in high doses, eg. B. 3 to 4 mg of a dry extract is used. For the preparation of 3 to 4 mg of dry extract is needed - in the case of 10: 1 extracts - 30 to 40 mg of the drug. 10: 1 again means that 10 parts of the plant was used for 1 part of the extract.

In extracts of this dosage, the level of prolactin decreases and the estrogen and progesterone levels regulate again. Also, only now can the FSH level rise. FSH is a hormone responsible for regular ovulation. Through all these mechanisms of action, the chaste tree can counteract the above-mentioned complaints.

If men consume chaste tree extract in appropriate dosage, this also leads to a decrease in prolactin levels. In this way, testosterone levels can be increased, increasing libido and activating sperm production.

The effect reversal

The chaste tree, however, has a completely different effect when taken in small doses. Because then the binding activity of the diterpenes is simply not enough to reduce the release of prolactin. However, it seems puzzling that, as a result, the prolactin release is actually slightly increased, which could lead to a a. Researcher from the Frankfurt University Clinic have confirmed.

They treated 20 men daily with a different dose of chaste tree special extract for two weeks.While the low dose caused a significant increase in prolactin levels, the high dose resulted in decreased prolactin release.

Pharmacologists speak in this context of a reversal of action or of a paradoxical reaction. This also explains why the chaste tree was used in ancient times both for increasing libido and for reducing it.

Nowadays, it is particularly important to the prolaktinspiegelsenkende effect, finished preparations with the chaste tree are already dosed accordingly, so you generally do not have to worry about the right dose.

In times of Viagra and CO., In which the potency of the man is written bigger than ever, libido-lowering drugs are out, which is why the research is not very busy.

Therefore, there is no scientifically verified information regarding this traditional use of the monk's pepper and the corresponding low dosage. It is possible that in the Middle Ages, the monks resorted to very low-dose extracts or to monk's tea.

In the leaflets of chervil preparations it is even to be read that there is basically no field of application in men, although these could also benefit according to studies, z. B. to increase fertility.

Chaste tree and its healing effects

Below we present the most important health problems in which the chaste tree can demonstrably help:

The premenstrual syndrome

The term premenstrual syndrome (PMS) includes many complaints that occur 4 to 14 days before the onset of menstrual bleeding. These include various physical and psychological symptoms such as cramps in the lower abdomen, headache, chest and back pain, fatigue, diarrhea, mood swings, tearfulness, etc. Every third woman of childbearing age is regularly affected. PMS will u. a. associated with a prolactin excess.

The chaste tree with its prolaktinsenkenden effect can therefore be very helpful here. Australian researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University For example, eleven studies have analyzed this. In seven of these studies, the effect of the monk's pepper on PMS could be demonstrated.

Another positive result was a placebo-controlled study that has been conducted at several clinical sites, including the Beijing Union Medical College Hospital, Participants were 217 patients with moderate to severe PMS. Some women were treated with 4 mg chasteberry extract daily, the other received a placebo.

Chasteberry therapy over three cycles resulted in a significant reduction in symptoms compared to placebo and symptoms improved by at least 60 percent.

For more helpful tips on PMS, see: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).

Premenstrual dysphoria

In many women, premenstrual syndrome is also associated with mental symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depressive moods. However, if these symptoms are so pronounced that they even lead to suicidal thoughts, it is called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), which is also attributed to a hormonal imbalance.

Conventional medicine often prescribes antidepressants in such cases. Chasteberry extract would be an ideal alternative to treat a PMDD, as a study at the UniversitĂ  degli Studi di Catania showed. The study involved 42 women aged between 18 and 49 years. They all had a PMDD diagnosis. The women were divided into two groups and received either 20 to 40 mg of fluoxetine (an antidepressant) or 20 to 40 mg of chasteberry extract for two months.

The researchers concluded that chasteberry extract was equivalent in efficacy to fluoxetine, but without the devastating side effects of the antidepressant such as: Anxiety, insomnia and nervousness. The effect is also attributed here to the lowering of the prolactin level.

Moreover, a study by American researchers from the University of Illinois revealed that ingredients of the monk's pepper bind not only to dopamine receptors, but also to opiate receptors, which could also contribute to the relief of pain and mental symptoms.

period pain

Not only before, but also during menstruation, many women suffer from various ailments, such as spasmodic abdominal pain, headache, nausea and feeling of fullness to vomiting and diarrhea.

Researcher from Nenehatun Hospital In Turkey, the effectiveness of birth control pills (active ingredient combination of ethinylestradiol and drospirenone) has now been compared with that of monk's pepper.

The study, which lasted three monthly cycles, involved 60 women suffering from severe menstrual pain. They either received the pill or a chasteberry preparation.The researchers found no difference in efficacy between birth control pills and chaste tree. But even in this case, chaste tree pepper is the better alternative, since the herbal remedy hardly leads to side effects.

Tips on how to deal with menstrual cramps in a natural way can be found here: Menstrual cramps - Gentle relief.

menstrual disorders

There are several menstrual disorders: Bleeding may be too frequent or too rare, too strong, too weak, too long or too short. You can also fail completely.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is considered the leading cause of women's cycle disorders and infertility. The disease is usually associated with only a few menstrual bleeding or the complete absence of menstruation. Male sex hormones predominate, while the typical female hormones (estrogen, progesterone) are sometimes poor. Other sequelae include severe acne, depression and hair loss.

Australian researchers from the University of Western have found that conventional conventional medical treatment often leaves much to be desired and is accompanied by numerous side effects. They have therefore tested six medicinal plant extracts for their hormonal efficacy. 33 studies were analyzed. The researchers concluded that chasteberry can have positive effects on PCOS, menstrual disorders and increased production of male hormones.

Cycle irregularities may also occur after discontinuation of hormonal contraceptives or as a result of luteal weakness. Even in these two cases, the hormonal balance can be restored more quickly with the help of the monk's pepper.

infertility

Childlessness may also be associated with a yellow body weakness. In fact, an excess of prolactin prevents the formation of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which prevents the corpus luteum from developing properly.

Chasteberry is traditionally used for a long time in infertility. At present, this application is not one hundred percent certain, but there are already studies that confirm this effect. For example, German researchers from the Medical University In Hamburg, 52 women with luteal weakness and a low prolactin level are divided into two groups. Some of the patients received 3 mg of chaste tree extract (strotan) daily, the other a placebo.

After a three-month therapy, the women of the chasteberry group found that the prolactin level had dropped and the luteal weakness was corrected. Two women became pregnant at this time. In the placebo group, however, everything remained the same.

Many more ideas for increasing your fertility can be found at: Children's desire? How to promote your fertility.

Menopausal symptoms

The menopause also bring many complaints for many women due to the hormonal change, which are referred to as climacteric syndrome. These include z. As hot flashes, sweats, gastrointestinal problems, sleep disorders, mood swings to depression.

The hallmark of menopause is not only a drop in estrogen levels, but also a decrease in progesterone levels. As the latter often sinks faster and faster than the estrogen level, estrogen dominance may develop. This does not mean that estrogen levels must be excessive, but that the estrogen / progesterone ratio is no longer in equilibrium and there is too much estrogen relative to progesterone.

Instead of a conventional medical side effect hormone replacement therapy could be used here as a trial, the chaste tree, which can regulate the hormone levels from the joints. It lowers prolactin levels, which results in activation of the body's own progesterone production. As a result, the estrogen dominance is contained. However, nature-identical hormone preparations are now available, which can be used in severe menopausal symptoms.

Hot flashes and night sweats

It may also be useful to combine different medicinal plants in order to achieve the best possible effect. Israeli researchers from the Felsenstein Medical Research Center have found that a plant extract containing chasteberry, grape-silver candle, Chinese angelica, milk thistle, meadow clover and American ginseng can significantly reduce the discomfort during menopause or even disappear.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 55 women aged between 44 and 65 years. They all suffered from menopausal symptoms, but were otherwise healthy. While only a minor improvement in the symptoms was registered in the placebo group, clear signs of success were found in the extract group:

After the three-month intake, the hot flashes were reduced by 73 percent and night sweats by 69 percent.Thanks to the healing plant combination, the sleep quality was also greatly improved. Furthermore, in 47 percent of the women, the hot flashes completely disappeared. In addition, no adverse events were observed in any of the study participants.

The study also showed that efficacy has steadily increased over the course of three months. Thus, the reduction in hot flashes after two weeks was only 25 percent. This clearly shows that it takes a while for the medicinal plants to fully develop their effect.

Chaste tree in veterinary medicine

Chasteberry is one of those remedies that are also used in the treatment of animals - eg. B. in fertility or behavioral disorders (aggressiveness) - have a long tradition. Today, chaste tree pepper is an alternative remedy especially for Cushing syndrome (CS). This affects in particular horses and ponies (Equines CS), but also dogs (Canines CS) and cats (Felines CS).

The CS is a hormone disorder of the adrenal cortex, which is associated with too high a cortisol level. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including changes in the coat, hoof disease, tendonitis, lethargy, bone problems and / or depressive behavior.

Unfortunately, the CS is currently an incurable disease in animals, but with the right therapy, the affected four-legged friends can enjoy a life free from symptoms for many years. Most of the drug is administered pergolide, but with some side effects such. As loss of appetite and apathy can go along.

Studies have shown that chasteberry is an interesting alternative, whether in combination with conventional medicines or even as sole therapy. A study at the Free University of Berlin, in which 38 horses and ponies participated, showed that the symptoms could be significantly improved by the monk's pepper-containing test preparation. Of course, the therapy must be discussed with the attending veterinarian.

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Chaste tree: side effects, contraindications and interactions

The chaste tree is usually very well tolerated. Only rarely can it z. As come to itchy rashes, indigestion or headache. Adverse effects usually appear right at the beginning of treatment.

Since chaste tree influences the sex hormones, it should not be taken during puberty and pregnancy. The same applies to existing diseases whose course can be influenced by sex hormones, such. As breast cancer and tumors of the pituitary gland.

Furthermore, breastfeeding women are advised against, since chasteberry extract can lower milk production. However, an investigation at the Sabzevar University of Medical Sciences In 2017, it can be seen that chasteberry can even increase milk production.

In addition, chasteberry extract is not recommended if dopamine antagonists (eg neuroleptics), dopamine agonists (prolactin inhibitors), estrogens and antiestrogens are taken, as they may interact.

In these cases, it is essential to consult your doctor or alternative practitioner before using chaste tree preparations.

Bear in mind that a chaste tree preparation must always be taken for at least three months before it can develop its full effect. In addition, it is usually recommended to take the chaste tree as much as possible at the same time of day.

Other interesting women's issues can be found at the following links:

  • Wild yam root is effective against osteoporosis and estrogen dominance
  • Mugwort - women's herb & digestive elixir
  • Depression due to vitamin D deficiency in polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Contraception with plants

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