Agnus castus Benefits

Agnus castus
Latin Name

Agnus castus

Also Known As

Vitex, Monk's pepper, Wild pepper, Chaste Tree


Native Mediterranean plant

Parts Used

Fruits (berries)

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

This pretty tree bears fruit that is taken as a natural aid for the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, known as PMS and PMT, and the symptoms of the menopause. It really is an all round tonic and balancer for the reproductive organs.
It has the reputation for regulating the pituary gland function, thus normalising the progesterone function and being helpful as a natural aid for conditions related to the reproductive organs.

As it normalises the activity of the female sex hormones it can have both an Aphrodisiac and an Anaphrodisiac effect, thus the origins of the plants name. It was known to put the damper on sexuality and was used by monks and nuns, taken internally and used symbolically as they prepared for chastity.

However it has also been used for gynaecological problems boosting female fertility and easing menstrual symptoms, so it would seem that its effects are to tonify and balance reproductive organs and its results are individual.

It is especially beneficial during menopausal changes and it helps regain balance in the monthly cycle after coming off the birth control pill. It also helps to boost milk production in nursing women and is safe for suckling infants.

In men Chaste tree reduces levels of Androgens, a male sex hormone, bringing balance to the libido and acting as a treatment for Acne in teenaged boys.

Typical Use

Most studies conducted have been done with Agnus Castus tincture, the standard dose is 40 drops daily for at least 12 weeks. Chaste tree is a slow acting herb, it usually takes several months to show benefit, except in cases of lactation, which often improve within a few weeks.

Agnus castus Tincture
Made with dry herb
Take 2-3 mls of Tincture 2-3 times per day.

Folklore and History

Chaste tree was well known to leading ancient Greek physicians. Hippocrates used it for treatment of injuries and inflammations. It was Dioscorides the author of De Materia Medica who saw Chaste tree's positive effect on the female reproductive system. He recommended it for nursing mothers, for expelling the placenta after birth, and controling bleeding. It was Pliny in the 1st centuary AD who recommended Agnus Castus as an Aphrodisiac, although in ancient Rome, Vestal Virgins carried a twig of the Chaste tree as a symbol of their virginity. It was used by the women of ancient Greece in their rituals to the goddess Ceres. In the middle ages Monk's ate the fruits to suppress their sexual urges. And 19th centuary American Eclectic physicians, fore runners of today's naturopaths, prescribed it to increase milk production.

Agnus castus

Bitters, alkaloids, volatile oil.


Agnus castus has never been linked to any significant side effects, but minor problems are possible. Stomach upsets, itching and rashes have been noted. Agnus Castus must not be given to prepubesant girls.