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Chasteberry

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This fact sheet provides basic information about chasteberry—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.

 

Common Names:  chasteberry, chastetree, chaste tree berry, Vitex, monk’s pepper, lilac chastetree

Latin Name: 
Vitex agnus-castus

Background

  • Chasteberry is the fruit of the chaste tree, which is native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean region.
  • The plant was believed to promote chastity (hence its name). Monks in the Middle Ages reportedly used it to decrease sexual desire.
  • Chasteberry was also used for reproductive disorders.
  • Today, chasteberry is used as a dietary supplement for menstrual problems, menopause symptoms, infertility, and other conditions.
  • Chasteberry is available as a liquid extract, capsules, tablets, and an essential oil.

How Much Do We Know?

  • There’s not a lot of strong research on the effectiveness of chasteberry for any condition. We do have some clear safety information on the herb.

What Have We Learned?

  • A few preliminary studies found that chasteberry may improve some symptoms of premenstrual syndrome but the evidence isn’t firm.
  • Researchers have studied chasteberry for breast pain and infertility, but there isn’t enough reliable scientific evidence to know if it helps.
  • There’s no evidence that chasteberry helps with menopausal symptoms.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • When used in limited amounts, chasteberry appears to be generally well tolerated. Few side effects have been reported.
  • Women on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, or who have a hormone-sensitive condition (such as breast cancer) should not use chasteberry.
  • People taking dopamine-related medications, such as certain antipsychotic drugs and Parkinson’s disease medications should avoid using chasteberry.

Keep in Mind

  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.: 
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PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.

Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset

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Key References

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

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NCCIH Publication No.: 
D335
Updated: 
September 2016

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.


NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advise of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

nccih.nih.gov

This page last modified November 29, 2016