There is evidence to suggest that chasteberry helps improve symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome.
Chasteberry is used widely to treat infertility and for relief of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Laboratory analysis has shown that chasteberry contains hormonal precursors that can prompt hormone changes within the body by activating those receptors. Various studies have found chasteberry to be effective in reducing breast pain and other PMS symptoms, but not for symptoms of menopause.
Because of its ability to influence hormone levels in the body, chasteberry should be avoided by patients with hormone-sensitive diseases including certain types of cancers.
To ease difficult and painful menstruation
A handful of clinical trials support this use in women aged 20–40 whose ovarian function was not greatly impaired and who had no other hormone imbalances.
To prevent premenstrual symptoms
A few studies support this use in women aged 20–40 whose ovarian function was not greatly impaired and who had no other hormone imbalances.
To treat breast pain
A few clinical trials support this use for breast pain associated with menstruation.
To prevent menopausal symptoms
There is no evidence to support this claim. One study that evaluated chasteberry in combination with St. John’s wort did not find it effective for menopausal symptoms. Because chasteberry contains sex hormones like progesterone, it is not known whether it would be a safe alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
Chasteberry should be avoided by patients with hormone-sensitive disease.
Chasteberry contains sex hormones such as progesterone, and it is unknown whether chasteberry is a safe alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
Do Not Take If
You have hormone-sensitive cancer: Chasteberry has hormonal activity and can stimulate cancer.
You are taking drugs that are substrates of Cytochrome P450 enzymes CYP2C19 and CYP3A4: Chasteberry may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs.
You are taking medicines used to treat serious mental and emotional disorders (chlorpromazine, haloperidol, prochlorperazine): Chasteberry may interfere with the action of these drugs or enhance their side effects.
You are taking medicines for Parkinson’s disease: Chasteberry may interfere with the action of these drugs or enhance their side effects.
You are taking any hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives (birth control pills): Chasteberry may interfere with their effects.
The fruit of chasteberry is widely used to relieve symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome and to treat infertility. It is said to have a normalizing action on the menstrual cycle and contains non-steroidal progestins that can interact with and activate hormone receptors in the body (1).
Chasteberry has opioidergic (2), dopaminergic (3), hepatoprotective (4), and antiproliferative (5) properties in vitro. Clinical studies suggest its efficacy in reducing symptoms associated with PMS (6)(7)(8), and for the treatment of mastalgia (9). However, in combination with St. John’s wort, chasteberry was not found effective for treating menopausal symptoms (10).
Chasteberry influences hormonal activities (11)(12)(13) and should be avoided by patients with hormone-sensitive diseases.
Mechanism of Action
In vitro studies have identified several flavonoids in chasteberry, especially casticin, which exert opioidergic effects through the activation of mu- and delta-opioid receptor subtypes (MOR and DOR respectively) (2). Dopaminergic compounds, particularly clerodadienols, dose-dependently inhibit pituitary prolactin release, which could explain its effect during the premenstrual cycle when serum prolactin levels can be chronically elevated (3). Other diterpenes including rotundifuran also modulate dopamine (d2) receptors (14). Linoleic acid from chasteberry binds to estrogen receptors (ER) and can induce certain estrogen genes (12). The flavonoid apigenin was identified as the most active ER isoform-selective phytoestrogen (11), and can also induce progestogenic activity (13).
In human studies, chasteberry restores progesterone concentrations, prolongs the hyperthermic phase in the basal temperature curve, and restores the luteinizing hormone (LH)-releasing hormone (LHRH) test to normal. It is thought to act on the pituitary-hypothalamic axis rather than directly on the ovaries (11).
Chasteberry may have estrogenic (11)(12) and progestogenic (13) activity and should be avoided or used cautiously by patients with hormone-sensitive disease.
Chasteberry should also be avoided during pregnancy and lactation (17)(18).
Reported: The most frequent adverse events are nausea, headache, gastrointestinal disturbances, menstrual disorders, acne, pruritus and erythematous rash (9)(19).
Antipsychotics (Phenothiazines, Dopamine D2-Antagonists): Chasteberry may interfere with the action of these drugs or enhance their side effects (17)(20). Antiparkinson agents (Dopamine agonists): Chasteberry may interfere with the action of these drugs or enhance their side effects (17)(20). Cytochrome P450 substrates: Chasteberry inhibits CYP2C19 and CYP3A4 and may affect drugs metabolized by these enzymes (21). Hormonal therapies: Chasteberry may decrease the effects of hormone therapies (11)(12)(18). Oral contraceptives: Chasteberry may decrease the effects of contraceptives (18).