Vitex agnus castus

Vitex_agnus-castus

Bauer, F. (1831). Vitex agnus-castus. Retrieved from: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/scientific-resources/natural-resources/homeopathy/database/index.jsp?row=&img=2&action=browse&searchterm=&remedy=&remcode=30

Botanical Name: Vitex agnus castus
Common name: Chaste tree, vitex, Monk’s pepper (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 220)
Family: Labiatae (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 220)
Parts used: ripe fruits (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 220)

History/Folklore: The herb has being used traditionally for gynaecological conditions such as promoting menstruation (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 220). The berries have long been considered a symbol of chastity, and were used in the Middle ages to suppress sexual excitability and was used by wonks to suppress libido (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 489). The Eclectics used the herb as a galactagogue, emmenagogue, to ‘repress the sexual passions’, for impotence, sexual melancholia, sexual irritability, melancholia and mild dementia (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 489).

Constituents: Essential oil (incl. monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, sabinene, cineole, β-caryophyllene & trans-β-farnesence); Flavonoids (incl. methoxylated flavones such as casticin, eupatorin and penduletin) and other flavonoids incl. vitexin and orientin; iridoid glycosides (incl. aucubin and agnuside); diterpenes (incl. rotundifuran, vitexilactone, vitetrifolin B and C and viteagnusins A-I) (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 491)

Actions

  • Prolactin inhibitor (Braun & Cohen, 2007, pp. 220-221; Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 489)
  • Dopamine agonist (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 489)
  • Oestrogen-receptor binding (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 221)
  • Increases progesterone levels (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 221)
    • By enhancingcorpus luteal development via dopaminergic activity on the anterior pituitary (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 489)
  • Opioid receptor (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 221)
    • Vitex works on the μ-opiate receptor, which is the primary action site for β-endorphon (in vivo), a peptide which assists in regulating the menstrual cycle through inhibition of the hyperthalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 221)
  • Galactagogue (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 489; Hoffmann, 2003, p. 595)
  • Antitumor (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 493)
  • Antimicrobial (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 493)
  • Uterine tonic (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 595)

Indications

  • Premenstrual syndrome (Braun & Cohen, 2007, pp. 221-222; Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 489)
  • Mastalgia (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 222)
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 222; Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 489)
  • Poor lactation (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 222; Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 489)
  • Fertility disorders (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 222)
  • Acne vulgaris (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 223)
  • Menopausal symptoms (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 223)
  • Help expel placenta after birth (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 223)
  • Fibroids (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 223)
  • Premature ovarian failure (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 223)
  • Cystic hyperplasia of the endometrium (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 489)

Dosage & Preparation:

  • Liquid extract (1:2): 1.0-2.5mL/day or 6-18mL/week (Bone, 2003, p. 143)
  • Tincture (1:5 in 60%): 2.5mL/tds (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 596)

Cautions

  • Traditionally not recommended in pregnancy (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 223)

Contraindications

  • Oestrogen or progesterone sensitive tumors (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 223)

Interactions

  • May have an antagonistic reaction on dopamine receptor antagonists (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 223)
  • Oral contraceptives may interfere with the effectiveness of Vitex (Braun & Cohen, 2007, p. 223)
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