Companion Botanical Closeup: Chasteberry or Vitex agnus-castus


Chasteberry is the fruit of the chaste tree, an aromatic, flowering shrub native to the Mediterranean region and central Asia. It is also known as monk’s pepper or by its Latin name, Vitex agnus-castus. It is a member of the Verbenaceae family which includes verbena and vervain. The dried fruits or berries resemble a peppercorn in both their size and their spicy aroma and flavor profiles. It became referred to as chasteberry and monk’s pepper because of its reputation as an anaphrodisiac. In other words, it was believed to decrease libido, and monks utilized it to strengthen their practice. In traditional systems of herbal medicine, chasteberry is more widely known for its ability to regulate the activity of the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. It is indicated for the relief of symptoms related to both premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and perimenopause. These symptoms include but are not limited to; breast tenderness, acne, swelling, cramping, anxiety and hot flashes. Research shows that in order to gauge effectiveness, it should be taken regularly over the course of at least 3-4 menstrual cycles. 

Because of its hormone regulating effect, chasteberry has also been used to balance hormones after discontinuing forms of birth control such as the pill or hormonal implants. Finally, scientific evidence is showing a correlation between chasteberry consumption and reduced levels of prolactin in the female body. Among other things, prolactin stimulates lactation, so mothers that are breastfeeding should avoid consuming products with chasteberry in the formula. Chasteberry is also contraindicated for pregnant women, individuals living with breast cancer, women using birth control or hormone replacement therapy or people taking prescription medications that affect dopamine levels.

The PMS and perimenopausal symptoms noted above are some of the same that women are managing with cannabis/hemp products. Taken together there exists the potential to augment the intended effects. As with all herbal remedies, each individual must experiment to discover which herbs and product formulations work best for them. If you are living with a medical condition we advise that you do so under the guidance of your healthcare professional. At Ceres Natural Remedies, we are building a collection of products to help support women’s gynecological health and wellness. We recently began stocking Sacred Moon Tincture by Z Botanicals, a Vermont based and women owned company. This tincture combines CBD derived from hemp with companion botanicals such as chasteberry, wild yam, ginger and lemon balm to help ease the transitions associated with the menstrual cycle. To learn more, visit our shop:


The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.