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 hypothyroidism.
Alternatives and Adjuncts:
Topic Specific References:
- Monk’s pepper (Vitex agnus-castus) [Ref]
- 7 Steps To Heaven—How To Increase Your Libido Naturally [Ref]
- Chasteberry [Ref]
- Herbal Remedies Info [Ref)
- Chasteberry [PubMED)
- Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)–pharmacology and clinical indications [PubMED)
- Safety and efficacy of chastetree (Vitex agnus-castus) during pregnancy and lactation [PubMED)
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.