Vitex agnus castus L. (Vitex) [Verbenaceae] is a deciduous shrub that is native to Mediterranean Europe and Central Asia.
Traditionally, Vitex fruit or Chastberry has been used for many hormone-related gynecologic conditions for centuries.
[1-4] It is well-tolerated with limited side adverse effects. The common side effects of chasteberry include nausea,
headache, gastrointestinal complaints, dizziness, dry mouth, menstrual disorders, acne, pruritus and erythematous rash.
Drug-herb interaction has not been reported, but caution is needed if taking with dopamine agonists or antagonists. [1,4]
Without scientific evidence, chaste fruit or its berry has been used to enhance breast milk production (i.e. galactagogue)
and reduce sexual desire.  There are some literature supporting its benefits on cyclical breast discomfort and
premenstrual syndrome, limited supports its uses in menstrual irregularities and fertility disorders.  The German
Commission E has approved the use of VAC for irregularities of the menstrual cycle, premenstrual disturbances and
Potential Health Benefits of Vitex Agnus-castus Fruit Extract
Extracts of Vitex agnus-castus fruits (VACF) are described to have beneficial effects on disorders related to
hyperprolactinemia (cycle disorders, premenstrual syndrome). 
Treatment of 121 patients suffered from premenstrual syndrome with Vitex agnus castus extracts could decrease the
symptoms of prementstrual syndrome (PMS) with a well-tolerance.  An extract of Vitex agnus castus was also shown to
be effective in treating women suffered from moderate to severe premenstrual syndrome in a double-blind, placebo
controlled study in China. No serious side effects were found in the study.  Premenstrual mastodynia has been
suggested related to latent hyperprolactinemia, excessive release of prolactin in response to stress and during deep
sleep phase to stimulate the mammary gland.  Researchers found treatment of patients suffered from this conditions
with the vitex extract resulted in reduction of the serum prolactin levels. They also found this prolactin-suppressive effects
are related to dopaminergic properties of a number of compounds in Vitex agnus castus.While, researchers from
University of Illinois at Chicago found that extracts of haste-tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus L.)at 46 +/- 3 microg/ml could
displace 50% of estradiol from ERalpha and 64 +/- 4 microg/ml from ERbeta. 
A Vitex agnus-castus fruit extract was shown to exhibit antitumor activities in different human cancer cell lines.
Researchers from University of Basel, Switzerland, further explored the antiproliferative effects of the extract with a
particular focus on apoptosis-inducing and potential cytotoxic effects. They found that the Vitex agnus-castus fruit extract
inhibited proliferation of three different human prostate epithelial cell lines (BPH-1, LNCaP, PC-3) in a
concentration-dependent manner with IC (50) values below 10 microg/mL after treatment for 48 h. Part of the cells were
undergoing apoptosis. The VACF-induced decrease in cell number was partially inhibited by Z-VAD-fmk, indicating a
caspase-dependent apoptotic cell death. However, the concentration-dependent LDH activity of Vitex agnus-castus fruit
extract treated cells indicated cytotoxic effects as well. Thus, the extract may be useful for the prevention and/or treatment
not only of benign prostatic hyperplasia but also of human prostate cancer. 
REFERENCE  Roemheld-Hamm B. Chasteberry.Am Fam Physician. 2005 Sep 1;72(5):821-4.  Mancho P, Edwards
QT.Chaste tree for premenstrual syndrome. An evolving therapy in the United States.Adv Nurse Pract. 2005
May;13(5):43-4, 46.  Daniele C, et al, Vitex agnus castus: a systematic review of adverse events. Drug Saf.
2005;28(4):319-32.  Wuttke W, et al, Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)--pharmacology and clinical indications.
Phytomedicine. 2003 May;10(4):348-57.  Weisskopf M, et al, A Vitex agnus-castus extract inhibits cell growth and
induces apoptosis in prostate epithelial cell lines. Planta Med. 2005 Oct;71(10):910-6  Liu J,et al, Isolation of linoleic
acid as an estrogenic compound from the fruits of Vitex agnus-castus L. (chaste-berry).Phytomedicine. 2004
Jan;11(1):18-23. Prilepskaya VN,et al, Vitex agnus castus: Successful treatment of moderate to severe premenstrual
syndrome.Maturitas. 2006 Sep 8.  van Die MD, Burger HG, Teede HJ, Bone KM. Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste-Tree/Berry)
in the treatment of menopause-related complaints. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):853-62.  He Z, Chen R,
Zhou Y, Geng L, Zhang Z, Chen S, Yao Y, Lu J, Lin S. Treatment for premenstrual syndrome with Vitex agnus castus: A
prospective, randomized, multi-center placebo controlled study in China. Maturitas. 2009 May 20;63(1):99-103. Epub 2009
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Vitex [Chaste tree, Monk's pepper; Vitex
agnus-castus] Side Effects and Benefits