Friday, 27 June 2014

Chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus) and Menopausal symptoms

 Kyle J. Norton
Chaste tree berry is a species of Vitex agnus-castus, genus Vitex, belonging to the family Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean region, used in herbal medicine for thousands of year as anaphrodisiac herb. It is considered as a Queen herb in treating menstrual problems and discomforts by taking it in a prolonged period of time. There was report that chaste tree berry stems and leaves used by women as bedding "to cool the heat of lust" during the time of the Thesmophoria,

Chemical constituents
1.  ╬▓-citronellol
2. Labdane-type diterpenoids,
3. Halimane-type diterpenoid,
4. Oleanane-type triterpenoids,
5. Ursane-type triterpenoids,
6. Sesquiterpenoid,
7.  Flavonoid
8. Viteagnusins C, D, E, F, G, and H
9. Abietane-type diterpenoids
Menopause is the defined as a condition in which a woman is in the transition stage of permanent cessation of the ovaries functions in egg production because of less production of estrogen and progesterone, signalling the end of the reproductive phrase a woman's life. In menopause, menstruation has become irregular and slowly stop overtime, but in some women, menstrual flow comes to a sudden halt.

 In a self-administered questionnaire, containing 15 questions, sent to all gynecologists in private practice in Germany to evaluate the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the treatment of climacteric disorders, 98% of the returnees are experience with therapies of black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus) and St. John's wort(1). According to the 1Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Bundoora, although evidence from rigorous randomized controlled trials is lacking for the individual herb emerging pharmacological evidence supports a role for V. agnus-castus in the alleviation of menopausal symptoms(2). Dr. Chopin Lucks B. in the trial of two essential oils (derived separately from leaf and fruit) of Vitex agnus castus indicated that both essential oil shows a strong symptomatic relief of common menopausal symptoms(3).
Unfortunately, according to the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Agnus castus showed no significant difference in the treatment of climacteric complaints(4) with  a combination of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's wort) and Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste tree/berry) also showed the same(5).

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(1) The value of complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of climacteric symptoms: results of a survey among German gynecologists by von Studnitz FS1, Eulenburg C, Mueck AO, Buhling KJ.(PubMed)
(2) Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste-Tree/Berry) in the treatment of menopause-related complaints by van Die MD1, Burger HG, Teede HJ, Bone KM.(PubMed)
(3) Vitex agnus castus essential oil and menopausal balance: a research update [Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery 8 (2003) 148-154] by Chopin Lucks B.(PubMed)
(4) Efficacy of Cimicifuga racemosa, Hypericum perforatum and Agnus castus in the treatment of climacteric complaints: a systematic review by Laakmann E1, Grajecki D, Doege K, zu Eulenburg C, Buhling KJ.(PubMed)
(5) Hypericum perforatum with Vitex agnus-castus in menopausal symptoms: a randomized, controlled trial by van Die MD1, Burger HG, Bone KM, Cohen MM, Teede HJ.(PubMed)

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