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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Herbal therapy - Chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus) and Premenstrual syndrome

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. It has been used in herbal medicine for thousands of year as anaphrodisiac herb and is considered as Queen herb in treating menstrual problems and discomforts by taking it in a prolonged period of time. There was report that reports 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.  β-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


Premenstrual syndrome effects over 70% to 90% of women in the US and less for women in Southeast Asia because of their difference in living style and social structure. It is defined as faulty function of the ovaries related to the women's menstrual cycle, it effects a women's physical and emotional state, and sometimes interferes with daily activities as a result of hormone fluctuation. The syndrome occurs one to two weeks before menstruation and then declines when the period starts.
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled parallel trial was conducted over 16 weeks on menopause-related symptoms with combination of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's wort) and Vitex agnus-castus (chaste tree/berry), showed a superior effect of the combination when compare to placebo in total PMS-like scores (p = 0.02), PMS-D (p = 0.006), and PMS-C clusters (p = 0.027).  significant reductions in the anxiety (p = 0.003) and hydration (p = 0.002) clusters and  suggested that the combination may be a  potentially significant clinical application for this phytotherapeutic combination in PMS-like symptoms among perimenopausal women(1). The  preliminary data of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology also support the efficacy of Chaste tree fruit (Vitex agnus) in the treatment of PMS(2). In a 1634 patients suffering from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), to test fpr the effects of Vitex on psychic and somatic complaints, on the four characteristic PMS symptom complexes depression, anxiety, craving, and hyperhydration (DACH), and on single groups of symptoms, indicated that Vitex treatment period of three menstrual cycles 93% of patients reported a decrease in the number of symptoms or even cessation of PMS complaints(3).



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References
(1) Effects of a combination of Hypericum perforatum and Vitex agnus-castus on PMS-like symptoms in late-perimenopausal women: findings from a subpopulation analysis by van Die MD1, Bone KM, Burger HG, Reece JE, Teede HJ.(PubMed)
(2) [Herbal medicine in womens' life cycle].[Article in Hebrew] by Ben-Arye E1, Oren A, Ben-Arie A.(PubMed)
(3) Treatment of premenstrual syndrome with a phytopharmaceutical formulation containing Vitex agnus castus by Loch EG1, Selle H, Boblitz N.(PubMed)