Before you turn to drugs to treat gynecological conditions as common as premenstrual symptoms or as troubling as infertility, here’s yet another way herbs can help your health. According to an article in Alternative and Complementary Therapies by Tieraona Low Dog, recent studies on the herb vitex agnus-castus, or chaste tree, report that regular doses of chaste tree berry extract can help treat PMS and irregular menses as well as aid infertility. This confirms what previous studies and practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine have known for years.
Interestingly, chaste tree’s efficacy lies in its regulation of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, as opposed to its ancient reputation of ensuring chastity. Steven Foster says in his article “Vitex: A Vital Herb for Women” that ancient Greeks’ understanding of chaste tree was incorporated into festivals honoring Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, fertility and marriage.
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German researchers have picked up where the Greeks left off with numerous studies of chaste tree and an approval by the German Commission E for the herb’s treatment of PMS, cyclical mastalgia and menstrual irregularity. A recent study cited in Michael Castleman’s article “Time Tested Herbs” reported that 93 percent of its 1,634 participants experienced partial to complete relief of their PMS symptoms.
As with all medicinal herbs, it’s important to follow the dosage instructions and to realize that it may take some time to experience the benefits. Linda B. White’s article “Women’s Herbal Wisdom” advises that it may take at least three months of a daily dose of chaste tree berry extract before you see any relief.