An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.
Chaste Tree - Vitex agnus-castus - family: Verbenaceae (Verbena Family).
This is an aromatic deciduous shrub or tree that grows to a height of about twenty-five feet. It has large hand-shaped compound leaves with narrow pointed dark green leaflets. In the summer and autumn it produces spikes of small fragrant lilac flowers. Later in the autumn it produces tiny, reddish-black fruits. Known to the ancient Greeks as a symbol of chastity and as a medicinal herb. Fruits are used as a traditional European folk remedy for menstrual difficulties and paralysis. Also, fruits have been used as a traditional European folk method to reduce male sexual desire; hence the folk name of Monk's Pepper. Modern western use of fruits as a remedy for acne, insomnia, heavy menstrual flow, menopause, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Modern Japanese (Kampo) use of fruits as a remedy for migraine headaches. Modern American and European folk use of fruits as a remedy for female infertility, lack of menstruation (amenorrhea), male infertility and problems of menopause. Approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for menopause and pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Modern American folk use in support of prostate cancer treatment. Note: do not use if pregnant or nursing. Note: excess dose may produce a nerve reaction with unpleasant sensations on the skin. Native to Europe, the Mediterranean area and western Asia. Cultivated as an ornamental in North America. At least two cultivars exist.
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Web page last updated on 20 May 2003.