What is Chasteberry(Vitex agnus-catus) ?
Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-catus) is a small brown berry fruit of the chaste tree which is about the size of peppercorns and smells like peppermint.Chasteberry is an herb used for the treatment of menstrual problems. Women have used chasteberry for thousands of years to help reduce the symptoms menstrual problems and to stimulate the production of breast milk. During the middle ages, monks reportedly used chasteberry to decrease sexual desire and preserve chastity. Today, chasteberry is used to reduce the symptoms of PMS and menopause, to ease breast pain, for some types of infertility, and acne.
Chemical constituents of Chasteberry(Vitex agnus-catus) Extract:
- agnus-castus contains iridoids, flavonoids, diterpenoids, progestins, essential oils, and ketosteroids. Iridoid glycosides have been isolated from the leaves and fruit of the plant and include agnuside and aucubin. Flavonoid content (including kaempferol, quercetagetin, and casticin) has been identified in chaste tree leaves, flowers, and fruits. Flavonoids were isolated from the root bark.
The alkaloid vitricine is present in the plant. Vitexlactam A, a labdane diterpene, has been isolated from the fruit of V. agnus-castus . In vitro studies show that labdane diterpenes have dopamine receptor affinity.
Clerodadienols are potent inhibitors of prolactin release. Although present in only trace amounts, progesterone, hydroxyprogesterone, testosterone, and androstenedione have been isolated from the leaves and flowers of V. agnus-castus . Numerous fatty acids also have been found
Benefits of taking Chasteberry(Vitex agnus-catus) Extract supplements:
1.Chasteberry is believed to work by suppressing the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. 1-4 Prolactin is a hormone that naturally rises during pregnancy to stimulate milk production.
>Casticin, a flavonoid isolated from Vitex rotundifolia, inhibits prolactin release in vivo and in vitro.
YE Q1, ZHANG QY, ZHENG CJ, WANG Y, QIN LP.
AIM:to investigate the anti-hyperprolactinemia activity of casticin, a flavonoid isolated from Vitex rotundifolia, and elucidate its molecular mechanism.
hyperprolactinemia (MIHP) was induced by administration of metoclopramide dihydrochloride (50 mg/kg, tid, ip, for 10 d) in SD rats and the primary pituitary cells were prepared from the pituitary glands of the SD rats. Prolactin concentrations were measured using a radioimmunoassay. Cell viability was measured using an MTT assay. The mRNA expression of estrogen receptor alpha and beta in rat pituitary cells was measured using semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis.
the level of serum prolactin in the MIHP model group was 2.1 fold higher than that in the untreated control group (P<0.01). Casticin (10, 20, and 40 mg/kg, ip, for 7 d) reduced serum prolactin levels by 33.9%, 54.3%, and 64.7%, respectively (P<0.01). The positive control drug bromocriptine 1 mg/kg decreased the serum prolactin concentration in MIHP rats by 44.9%. 17β-Estradiol (E2) significantly increased the proliferation of pituitary cells and casticin (1 and 10 micromol/L) markedly inhibited E2-induced pituitary cell proliferation by 27.7% and 42.1%, respectively. Stimulation of pituitary cells with E2 increased prolactin secretion into the cell culture supernatants, and casticin (0.1, 1, and 10 micromol/L) significantly inhibited the prolactin release stimulated by E2 in a concentration-dependent manner. Casticin (1 and 10 micromol/L) significantly inhibited ERα mRNA expression in pituitary cells stimulated with E2 (P<0.01) but increased ERβ mRNA expression at a concentration of 10 micromol/L (P<0.01). However, casticin had no effects on proliferation and prolectin release of the unstimulated primary pituitary cells in vitro.
casticin inhibited the release of prolactin from pituitary cells of SD rats stimulated with E2 in vivo and in vitro. These effects might be related with inhibiting the ERα mRNA expression and increasing the ERβ mRNA expression.
- Chasteberry extract in the manufacturing of a medication for Mastalgia — sore breasts or breast tenderness associated with PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) and menopause.
> Herbal medicine for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and associated oligo/amenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism; a review of the laboratory evidence for effects with corroborative clinical findings.
Arentz S, Abbott JA, Smith CA, Bensoussan A.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a prevalent, complex endocrine disorder characterised by polycystic ovaries, chronic anovulation and hyperandrogenism leading to symptoms of irregular menstrual cycles, hirsutism, acne and infertility. Evidence based medical management emphasises a multidisciplinary approach for PCOS, as conventional pharmaceutical treatment addresses single symptoms, may be contra-indicated, is often associated with side effects and not effective in some cases. In addition women with PCOS have expressed a strong desire for alternative treatments. This review examines the reproductive endocrine effects in PCOS for an alternative treatment, herbal medicine. The aim of this review was to identify consistent evidence from both pre-clinical and clinical research, to add to the evidence base for herbal medicine in PCOS (and associated oligo/amenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism) and to inform herbal selection in the provision clinical care for these common conditions.
We undertook two searches of the scientific literature. The first search sought pre-clinical studies which explained the reproductive endocrine effects of whole herbal extracts in oligo/amenorrhoea, hyperandrogenism and PCOS. Herbal medicines from the first search informed key words for the second search. The second search sought clinical studies, which corroborated laboratory findings. Subjects included women with PCOS, menstrual irregularities and hyperandrogenism.
A total of 33 studies were included in this review. Eighteen pre-clinical studies reported mechanisms of effect and fifteen clinical studies corroborated pre-clinical findings, including eight randomised controlled trials, and 762 women with menstrual irregularities, hyperandrogenism and/or PCOS. Interventions included herbal extracts of Vitex agnus-castus, Cimicifuga racemosa, Tribulus terrestris, Glycyrrhiza spp., Paeonia lactiflora and Cinnamomum cassia. Endocrine outcomes included reduced luteinising hormone (LH), prolactin, fasting insulin and testosterone. There was evidence for the regulation of ovulation, improved metabolic hormone profile and improved fertility outcomes in PCOS. There was evidence for an equivalent effect of two herbal medicines and the pharmaceutical agents bromocriptine (and Vitex agnus-castus) and clomiphene citrate (and Cimicifuga racemosa). There was less robust evidence for the complementary combination of spirinolactone and Glycyrrhiza spp. for hyperandrogenism.
Preclinical and clinical studies provide evidence that six herbal medicines may have beneficial effects for women with oligo/amenorrhea, hyperandrogenism and PCOS. However the quantity of pre-clinical data was limited, and the quality of clinical evidence was variable. Further pre-clinical studies are needed to explain the effects of herbal medicines not included in this review with current clinical evidence but an absence of pre-clinical data.
3.take a Chasteberry capsule daily can help infertility and minimise the risk of a miscarriage by natural increase in progesterone levels.
> Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Fertilityblend: a nutritional supplement for improving fertility in women.
Westphal LM1, Polan ML, Trant AS.
Department of Gynecology/Obstetrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
To determine the impact of nutritional supplementation on female fertility.
A double blind, placebo-controlled study of the effects of FertilityBlend for Women, a proprietary nutritional supplement containing chasteberry, green tea, L-arginine, vitamins (including folate) and minerals, on progesterone level, basal body temperature, menstrual cycle length, pregnancy rate and side-effects.
Ninety-three (93) women, aged 24-42 years, who had tried unsuccessfully to conceive for six to 36 months, completed the study. After three months, the FertilityBlend (FB) group (N = 53) demonstrated a trend toward increased mean mid-luteal progesterone (P(ml)), but among women with basal pretreatment P(ml) < 9 ng/ml, the increase in progesterone was highly significant. The average number of days with luteal-phase basal temperatures over 98 degrees F increased significantly in the FB group. Both short and long cycles (< 27 days or > 32 days pretreatment) were normalized in the FB group. The placebo group (N = 40) did not show any significant changes in these parameters. After three months, 14 of the 53 women in the FB group were pregnant (26%) compared to four of the 40 women in the placebo group (10%; p = 0.01). Three additional women conceived after six months on FB (32%). No significant side-effects were noted.
Nutritional supplements could provide an alternative or adjunct to conventional fertility therapies.
>Phytochemicals and reproductive function in wild female Phayre’s leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus phayrei crepusculus).
Lu A1, Beehner JC, Czekala NM, Koenig A, Larney E, Borries C.
Female reproduction is known to be influenced by food availability and its impact on energetic status. However, emerging evidence suggests that the phytochemical content of food may also be an important factor. Here, we investigated this hypothesis, presenting 20 months of data on fecal progestin (fP) patterns in wild female Phayre’s leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus phayrei crepusculus). We examined whether (a) the availability of Vitex (a plant known to contain phytochemicals) might be linked to seasonal fP levels, (b) fP levels were associated with female reproductive performance, and (c) reproductive performance might also be linked with energetic status (as measured by physical condition). We collected fecal samples (N=2077) from 10 adult females to analyze estrogen (fE) and progestin (fP) metabolites, behavioral data from 7 cycling females to determine receptivity, and monthly data on Vitex availability and female physical condition. Seasonally elevated fP levels were found in all females, with higher levels when Vitex leaves and fruits were abundant. During the period of high progestins, females had longer cycle lengths and follicular phases, while receptive periods did not change. Nevertheless, when ovulations occurred, females were more likely to conceive. On the other hand, conceptions were also more likely when physical condition was improving, suggesting that the effects of phytochemicals and energetic status on reproduction may be difficult to separate. Although our results support the predicted effects of Vitex on endocrine and reproductive function, future studies with detailed feeding data and chemical analyses of plants are needed to confirm this finding.
>Recurrent breast pain.
Side effects and safety of Chasteberry(Vitex agnus-catus) Extract:
Special Precautions & Warnings:
>Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Using vitex agnus-castus during pregnancy or breast-feeding is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. The concern is that vitex agnus-castus can interfere with hormones. Don’t use vitex agnus-castus if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
>Hormone-sensitive condition such as endometriosis; uterine fibroids; or cancer of the breast, uterus, or ovaries: Vitex agnus-castus can affect hormones and might affect estrogen levels. Don’t use vitex agnus-castus if you have a hormone-sensitive condition.
>In vitro fertilization: Vitex agnus-castus can interfere with the effectiveness of in vitro fertilization. Don’t use vitex agnus-castus if you are undergoing this procedure.
>Parkinson’s disease. Vitex agnus-castus contains chemicals that affect the brain. These chemicals affect the brain similarly to some medications used for Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, vitex agnus-castus might affect therapy for Parkinson’s disease.
>Schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. Vitex agnus-castus seems to affect a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Some medications for mental disorders help to decrease dopamine. Therefore, taking vitex agnus-castus might affect therapy for certain mental disorders.
Dosage of Chasteberry(Vitex agnus-catus) Extract supplement:
Crude herb extracts are typically used in doses of 20-240 mg per day up to 1800 mg per day in 2-3 divided doses.