- Chaste tree fruit
- monk’s pepper
For Patients & Caregivers
How It Works
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 chasteberry has phytoestrogenic properties, patients with hormone-sensitive cancers should consult their physicians before using it.
To ease difficult and painful menstruation
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
One study that evaluated chasteberry in combination with St. John’s wort did not find it effective for menopausal symptoms.
Do Not Take If
- 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.
- You are pregnant or nursing.
For Healthcare Professionals
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) (22), but a systematic review highlighted the need for well-designed studies for definitive conclusions (23). Chasteberry was also reported useful for the treatment of mastalgia (9) (24). However, in combination with St. John’s wort, it was shown to be ineffective for treating menopausal symptoms (10).
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). Casticin was also shown to reduce lung inflammation induced by cigarette smoke in a murine model (25) by inhibiting the numbers of neutrophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes, and by reducing the levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines.
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).
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).