Chasteberry Health Benefits
Chasteberry health benefits include properties that may lower estrogen levels and help in the fight against prostate cancer and treatment for BPH. Also known as vitex or monk’s berry, chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) is the fruit of a small shrub-like tree that is native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean.
The name chasteberry is believed to come from reports in the Middle Ages. That’s when monks considered one of the chasteberry health benefits to include an ability to decrease libido. Today, researchers have discovered that chasteberry may indeed have an effect on hormone levels.
Studies show chasteberry may reduce estrogen levels while increasing levels of the hormones progesterone and prolactin. The herb may achieve this possibly by inhibiting the release of follicle-stimulating hormone and by stimulating the luteinizing hormone. (Mills 2000; Brown 1994; Merz 1996)
Chasteberry health benefits may extend to the prostate. A Swiss study explored the effect of a chasteberry extract on the growth and cell death of three different human prostate cell lines: two for prostate cancer and one for BPH. Scientists tested the samples in various ways and found that chasteberry extracts contain components that inhibit proliferation and induce cell death in human prostate cell lines. The study’s authors suggested their findings indicate that chasteberry health benefits may include help in the prevention and/or treatment of BPH and prostate cancer. (Weisskopf 2005)
Chasteberry is not associated with serious side effects. However, some men may experience acne-like rashes, gastrointestinal problems, and dizziness. Before exploring chasteberry health benefits, men should consult their healthcare provider.
Brown D. Vitex agnus castus clinical monograph. Quarterly Review of Natural Medicine 1994; 2:111–21.
Merz PG et al. The effects of a special Agnus castus extract (BP1095E1) on prolactin secretion in healthy male subjects. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 1996; 104:447–53.
Mills S, Bone K. Principles and practice of phytotherapy: modern herbal medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.
Weisskopf M et al. A vitex agnus-castus extract inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis in prostate epithelial cell lines. Planta Med 2005 Oct; 71(10): 910-16