Agnus castus exerts a balancing effect on the activity of the female sex hormones. This may also be of benefit in those suffering from fibroids and endometriosis,under the supervision of a Healthcare Professional.
Agnus castus: what does it do?
Agnus castus is a shrub that grows in Mediterranean countries and central Asia. It is also known as chaste-berry, as eating the seeds was originally believed to reduce libido.
Agnus castus has been used for centuries to help female gynaecological issues and is a traditional herbal medicine to help relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as irritability, mood swings, headaches, bloating and breast tenderness.
Agnus castus berries are usually dried out, then made into either a powder (taken as capsules) or a tincture. It can also be used as an essential oil.
Benefits of Agnus castus
Agnus castus is thought to have an impact on hormone-producing areas of the brain, such as the pituitary gland, which then leads to a reduction in prolactin, a hormone that may be involved in PMS. Agnus castus is most often taken for PMS, but research shows it may also be helpful for other hormonal conditions including menopause and female fertility issues:
Agnus Castus and PMS
A study found that agnus castus could offer relief from mild to moderate PMS symptoms, including headaches, depression and bloating while another study reported in 2000 that the herb could reduce – and in some cases, entirely stop – PMS symptoms.
Agnus Castus and Menopausal symptoms
According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2009, there is enough ‘emerging pharmacological evidence’ to recommend agnus castus as a way to manage menopause symptoms, particularly the PMS-like symptoms that occur during the perimenopause.
An earlier 2003 study concluded that applying agnus castus essential oil to the skin could ease symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep patterns and irregular periods.
Agnus castus and Fertility problems
Agnus castus could improve female fertility, particularly in women who have a shortened second-half of their menstrual cycle. Several studies have found that agnus castus can rebalance hormones and lengthen menstrual cycles, regulate periods and even lead to successful pregnancies.
Agnus castus Dosage
How much agnus castus is safe to take?
The European Medicines Agency suggests that 20mg a day of agnus castus is safe to take, to treat PMS. However, you should not take it for more than three months without advice from your GP or a healthcare professional, or if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.
Some known side-effects of agnus castus include allergic reactions, such as swelling and difficulty breathing, headaches, nausea and stomach aches, and irregular periods. If you experience any of these side effects, stop taking agnus castus and seek medical attention – particularly if you’re having an allergic reaction.
Because of the herb’s effect on the pituitary gland, those with a pituitary disorder should not take it without talking to their doctor first. If you’re taking any other hormone medications, such as the contraceptive pill or hormone-replacement therapy (HRT), do not take agnus castus without proper medical advice from your GP or a healthcare professional.