Chaste Berry extract supplement health benefit, side effects - Does this herb help with PMS or menopause? Influence on fertility
October 23 2016 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Chaste berry herb contains several different constituents, including flavonoids, iridoid glycosides, and terpenoids. Chaste berry (the fruit of a small Eurasian tree, also called Vitex agnus) does not contain hormones. The benefits of chasteberry stem from its actions upon the pituitary gland. Chaste berry keeps prolactin secretion in check. The ability to decrease mildly elevated prolactin levels may benefit some women with breast tenderness associated with PMS. Chasteberry may also be helpful in menopause and cyclic mastalgia. New research indicates that certain compounds in the plant may have activity similar to the brain chemical dopamine.

Hormone replacement therapy and menopause
Recent studies indicate that long term replacement with Premarin (horse derived estrogens) and synthetic progesterone increases the risk for heart disease, cancer, blood clots and gallbladder disease.  The field of hormone or herbal therapy during or after menopause is very complicated and there is no consensus within the medical community regarding the best option for long term therapy. The medical community seems to be shifting its viewpoint on hormone replacement. It appears that most traditional doctors now prefer using low doses of hormones for a brief period of time to treat menopausal symptoms, but prefer not to continue hormone replacement therapy indefinitely as in the past. Chaste berry and other herbs offer some hope as weak alternatives.

Mastalgia, breast pain
Treatment of cyclical mastalgia with a solution containing a Vitex agnus castus extract: results of a placebo-controlled double-blind study.
Breast. 1999 Aug.
In a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind study the efficacy of a chaste berry extract-containing solution was investigated in patients suffering from cyclical mastalgia. Patients had mastalgia on at least 5 days in the pre-treatment cycle. During this cycle and during treatment (3 cycles; 2 x 30 drops/day), the intensity of mastalgia was recorded once per cycle using a visual analogue scale (VAS). Chaste berry appears effective and was well tolerated and further evaluation of this agent in the treatment of cyclical mastalgia is warranted.

The PMS relief herb?
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is the name of a group of symptoms that start 7 to 14 days before a period and stop soon after the period begins. Most women feel some discomfort before their periods but those with PMS may feel so anxious, depressed or uncomfortable that they can't cope at home or at work.
   PMS seems to be linked in part to changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, and perhaps partly due to elevated levels of a pituitary hormone called prolactin.
   Several studies over the past few years have indicated that extracts from chasteberry help with symptoms of PMS. In a recent study done in Germany, 86 patients with PMS were treated daily with one tablet (20 mg chasteberry extract) during three menstrual cycles. At the end of the study, many PMS-related symptoms were significantly reduced by treatment with chasteberry in the majority of the participants. No serious adverse effects were reported. The researchers say, "Extract of chaste berry  is an effective and well tolerated treatment for the relief of symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome."
   How it works is not clear, but one possibility is that it may reduce the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland.

   At least two previous studies have also shown the beneficial effects of chasteberry in relation to PMS. Other natural therapies that could be helpful include exercise, yoga, B vitamins, calcium supplements, and reduction of simple sugars, alcohol and caffeine.

Adv Ther. 2014. Efficacy and safety of Vitex agnus-castus extract for treatment of premenstrual syndrome in Japanese patients: a prospective, open-label study. Herbal medicine containing Vitex agnus-castus (VAC) extract is widely used by women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in Europe, however, in Japan, clinical evidence remains to be determined. This study attempted to investigate the efficacy and safety profiles of VAC extract in Japanese patients with PMS. A multi-center, prospective, open-label, single-arm, phase 3 study was performed in Japanese women with PMS and aged 18-44 years. The patients received Prefemin (Max Zeller Söhne AG, Romanshorn, Switzerland), containing 20 mg of VAC extract, once daily for three menstrual cycles. VAC extract improved PMS symptoms in Japanese patients, with no substantial adverse events.

Fluoxetine versus Vitex agnus castus extract in the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Hum Psychopharmacol. 2003.
Clinical trials have demonstrated that serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) and the extract of chaste berry are effective for the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). The aim of the present study was to compare the efficacy of fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), with that of the chaste berry extract, a natural choice. After a period of 2 screening months to screen the patients for suitability, 41 patients with PMDD according to DSM-IV were recruited into the study. The patients were randomized to fluoxetine or chaste berry for 2 months of single-blind, rater- blinded and prospective treatment period. At endpoint a similar percentage of patients responded to fluoxetine (68%) and chaste berry (57%). There was no statistically significant difference between the groups with respect to the rate of responders. This preliminary study suggests that patients with PMDD respond well to treatment with both fluoxetine and chaste berry. However, fluoxetine was more effective for psychological symptoms while the extract diminished the physical symptoms.

Prostate cancer
A Vitex agnus-castus extract inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis in prostate epithelial cell lines.
Planta Med. 2005. Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology, University of Basel, Schonbeinstrasse Basel, Switzerland.
Extracts of chaste berry fruits are described to have beneficial effects on disorders related to hyperprolactinemia (cycle disorders, premenstrual syndrome). A chaste berry extract has recently been shown to exhibit antitumor activities in different human cancer cell lines. In the present study, we explored the antiproliferative effects of a chaste berry extract with a particular focus on apoptosis-inducing and potential cytotoxic effects. Our data suggest that chaste berry contains components that inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis in human prostate epithelial cell lines. The extract may be useful for the prevention and/or treatment not only of benign prostatic hyperplasia but also of human prostate cancer.

Review of chasteberry side effects, safety, risks, toxicity
No major side effects or toxicity has been reported in the medical literature thus far.

Chaste Berry research studies
Chasteberry tree -- pharmacology and clinical indications.
Phytomedicine. 2003.
Extracts of the fruits of chaste tree are widely used to treat premenstrual symptoms. Double-blind placebo-controlled studies indicate that one of the most common premenstrual symptoms, i.e. premenstrual mastodynia (mastalgia) is beneficially influenced by a chaste berry extract. Premenstrual mastodynia is most likely due to high prolactin, i.e. patients release more than physiologic amounts of prolactin in response to stressful situations and during deep sleep phases which appear to stimulate the mammary gland. Premenstrually this prolactin release is so high that the serum prolactin levels often approach heights which are misinterpreted as prolactinomas. Since chasteberry extracts were shown to have beneficial effects on premenstrual mastodynia serum prolactin levels in such patients were also studied in one double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Serum prolactin levels were indeed reduced in the patients treated with the chasteberry extract. The search for the prolactin-suppressive principle(s) in chasteberry yielded a number of compounds with dopaminergic properties. The search for the chemical identity of the chasteberry dopaminergic compounds resulted in isolation of a number of diterpenes of which some clerodadienols were most important for the prolactin-suppressive effects. They were almost identical in their prolactin-suppressive properties than dopamine itself. Hence, it is concluded that dopaminergic compounds present in chasteberry are clinically the important compounds which improve premenstrual mastodynia and possibly also other symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome.

Evidence for estrogen receptor beta-selective activity of Vitex agnus-castus and isolated flavones.
Planta Med. 2003.
Recent cell culture experiments indicated that extracts of chaste berry may contain yet unidentified phytoestrogens. Estrogenic actions are mediated via estrogen receptors (ER). To investigate whether chasteberry compounds bind to the currently known isoforms ERalpha or ERss, ligand binding assays (LBA) were performed. Subtype specific ER-LBA revealed a binding of chasteberry to ERss only. To isolate the ERss-selective compounds, the extract was fractionated by bio-guidance. The flavonoid apigenin was isolated and identified as the most active ERss-selective phytoestrogen in chasteberry . Other isolated compounds were vitexin and penduletin. These data demonstrate that the phytoestrogens in chasteberry are ERss-selective.

Vitex ( Chasteberry ) Extract 5% Vitexin

Enzymatic Therapy, Chaste Berry Extract, Women's Health, 60 Veggie Caps
Enzymatic Therapy - Buy Chaste Berry Extract 225 per pill
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Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 capsule
  Amount per capsule % Daily Value
Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) Berry Extract standardized to contain 0.5% agnusides 225 mg **
**Daily Value not established.

Recommendations:  One capsule Chasteberry extract two times daily.
Supplement Facts
Serving Size 1 capsule
Chaste berry Tree 225 mg each pill
    (Vitex agnus-castus) Berry Extract
    Standardized to contain a minimum of 0.5% agnuside (1,130 mcg per capsule)
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