Chaste berry extract is a dietary supplement which comes from the berry of the chaste berry tree. Contrary to what the name implies, the plant which produces natural chaste berry is actually a shrub which also features blue and violet flowers. The name “chaste berry tree” comes from the idea held by ancient Romans and Greeks that the plant was useful for keeping people pure as well as for warding off evil spirits.
Today, chaste berry products are used for a variety of medicinal purposes, primarily for repairing hormonal imbalances in some women. Supplements are used for those who are entering menopause, as well as for those who have certain fertility issues. Unlike many other supplements used for similar purposes,including wild yam root and black cohosh, chaste berry extract affects the body indirectly and is not a hormone.
It is believed that chaste berry extract helps regulate hormonal imbalances by directly affecting the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. This results in more progesterone production and less follicle stimulating hormone production. Because many hormonal disorders, such as poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), are caused by hindered progesterone production, chaste berry extract may be a beneficial treatment option.
Using chaste berry is recommended during menopause because it helps the brain produce leveled amounts of progesterone, thus reducing some of the troubling symptoms associated with going through this change. Hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and moodiness may all be lessened by taking chaste berry regularly. Sometimes it may be used in combination with other natural herbal remedies, such as black or blue cohosh, but a doctor should be consulted before any supplements are taken.
Ancient Roman texts indicate that physicians of that time believed that chaste berry helped a woman produce more milk while she was nursing a baby. Current research has shown, however, that chaste berry extract actually has the reverse effect. Animals that were given chaste berry on a regular basis after giving birth produced much less of the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for proper milk production. These animals had drastically lower milk supplies than those who were given no supplements.
Other uses for chaste berry extract may include giving it to those with digestive upset. Some cultures have used the supplement for treating gas, colic, and painful obstructions in the digestive tract. Although the ancients believed it was effective for preventing passions from overtaking them, some studies indicate that chaste berry syrup may, again, have the opposite effect.