CHASTEBERRY: LADIES, MEET YOUR NEW BESTIE.
As the quintessential, fair-weather friends they are, hormones have been a focus of women’s health for centuries. The chasteberry tree, also called chaste tree or Abraham’s balm, has been a ‘ride-or-die’ for women for almost as long.
Chasteberry is native to the wet banks and rivers in Europe and the Mediterranean and can tower up to 22 feet tall. Depending on the varietal, they can produce beautiful white, blue or lavender blooms, but the secret sauce is found mostly in the red-black berry often referred to as monk pepper. Its history touts a long list of spiritual and/or medicinal uses, from warding off evil by the Greeks and Romans to treating injuries and internal inflammation by Hippocrates and Dioscorides, but it was European nuns who helped establish chasteberry as an effective therapy for hormonal issues.
One of the most well-researched attributes of chasteberry Vitex agnus-castus, is its ability to reduce symptoms of PMS which include breast pain and tenderness, migraines, depressed mood, constipation and irritability (1, 2). Researchers believe chasteberry works by decreasing levels of prolactin, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland (3). Decreasing prolactin helps rebalance other hormones, including progesterone and estrogen — thereby, reducing symptoms associated with PMS (4)… but that’s not all!
Chasteberry has proven itself to be a true friend through many seasons of female hormones changes including perimenopause, menopause and post-menopausal phases –hormone regulation is a powerful tool. Studies have shown chasteberry to improve a variety of symptoms associated with menopause and perimenopause including night sweats and hot flashes (5). And if that wasn’t reason enough, improved sleep and better mood and even instances of regaining one’s period have been reported (6).
Call it what you want: Monks pepper, Vitex agnus-castus or Abraham’s balm; we just call Chasteberry a girl’s best friend. Keep it close and stay calm, cool and collected.