Scientific: Vitex agnus-castus [WikiPedia]
Composition: The berries contain essential oils (e.g., limonene, sabinene, 1,8-cineole [eucalyptol], ), iridoid glycosides (e.g., agnoside, aucubin), diterpines (e.g., vitexilactone, rotundifuran), and flavonoids (e.g., apigenin, castican, orientin, isovitexin).
Appearance: Monk’s pepper
belongs to the Vitex genus and thus to the Verbena family. Its five- to
seven-fingered leaves resemble those of the hemp plant. Vitex
agnus-castus grows as a one to five metre high shrub in the entire
Mediterranean region and through to the Crimea. This medicinal plant
prefers moist soil and a warm to moderate climate. It is often found on
embankments or near water. The large, thick inflorescences consist of
numerous small blue-violet, white or pink blossoms. Seeds, which look
similar to black peppercorns, develop from the blossoms.
Parts Used: Fruit
Common Uses: Chaste tree has
traditionally been used for many conditions involving the female
reproductive and hormonal systems. It has been used to treat
premenstrual syndrome, irregular bleeding, menopausal symptoms, swelling
in the breasts, hormonal balance, heavy bleeding and frequent periods.
There is growing evidence as to the use of chaste tree for healing.
During the ancient times, people believed that it helped promote
chastity, hence its name. The Greek physician Dioscorides prescribed a
beverage made from this herb’s fruits to lower men’s libido, while at
least one modern-day natural health doctor recommends it to heighten a
woman’s sexual satisfaction. Hippocrates recommended women to take it
after childbirth. Athenian maidens, according to Pliny the Elder, would
sleep with the plant’s leaves under their bed during the festival of
Thesmophoria. This was believed to help preserve their chastity. In the
Middle Ages, monks used chasteberry to suppress their sexual desire,
which is why it’s also called monk’s pepper. “Pepper” refers not just to
the spicy flavour of the fruits but their appearance as well, which is
similar to peppercorns.
For equine supplementation, the berries are dried
and then ground into a fine powder, which most horses find palatable if
mixed with feed. The most well-known use of chaste tree berry is for
horses with symptoms of Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID),
formerly known as Cushing’s disease. The pituitary gland uses hormones
to control bodily functions, and PPID causes this gland to work
overtime, which can lead to a variety of problems, such as abnormal fat
deposits or unexplained laminitis. However, dysfunction of the pituitary
gland is connected not only with PPID, but also insulin resistance and
Alternatives and Adjuncts:
Topic Specific References:
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and
other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe
and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any
other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.
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