Scientific Name: Vitex negundo, Vitex agnus castus
Name: Vitex, Five leaved chaste
Sanskrit Name: Nirgundi
Nepali Name: Simali
Other Names: Five Leafed Chaste Tree, Chasteberry, Nirgundi, Sambhalu, vitex, Agnus-castus, chaste tree, monk’s pepper, cloister pepper, Indrani, Nirgandhi, Nochi
This plant is indigenous to the Mediterranean countries and Central Asia. It is also found in parts of India, Nepal and in Burma. The dried fruit, which has a pepper-like aroma and flavor, is used in western herbalism.
Parts Used: Roots, flowers, leaves, seed
Chasteberry has not been significantly investigated for its therapeutic effects. However, preliminary investigations do indeed show the presence of compounds which are able to adjust the production of female hormones.
It is thought to contain a progesterone-like compound The chemical constituents are the monoterpenes agnuside, eurostoside, and aucubin. Chasteberry also contains the flavonoids casticin, chryso-splenol and vitexin.
Animal studies have shown that extracts of Agnus castus can stimulate the release of Leutenizing Hormone (LH) and inhibit the release of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). Another study found that extracts of Chasteberry can stimulate the release of Leutenizing Hormone (LH) and inhibit the release of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). This hormonal effect has been confirmed in another laboratory report which suggests that the volatile oil has a progesterone-like effect.
Thus, Vitex's benefits stem from its actions upon the pituitary gland—specifically on the production of luteinizing hormone. This increases progesterone production and helps regulate a woman’s cycle. Vitex also keeps prolactin secretion in check. The ability to decrease excessive prolactin levels may benefit infertile women
Therapeutic Uses :
Amenorrhea, Catarrh, Cholera, Colic, Diarrhea, Dysmenorrhea, Dyspepsia, Ear,disorders, Endometriosis, Fever, Fibrocystic Breast Disease, Headache, Heart,Disease, Hemicrania, Hemorrhoids Infertility (Female), Liver disorders, Malaria,,Menopause, Menorrhagia (Heavy Menstruation), Menstrual Difficulties,(Secondary Amenorrhea), Nausea, Premenstrual Syndrome, Rheumatism,Skin diseases, Ulcers, Worms.
A study conducted in London (double blind study) showed a 60% group reduction or elimination of PMS symptoms such as anxiety, nervous tension, insomnia, or mood changes, from subjects who were taking dried agnus castus capsules.
Employing an aqueous extract from the fruit, a 1979 study reported good results on premenstrual water retention. Women were able to sustain a good level of milk production for breast feeding while taking this herb. While it took some time for the drug to take effect, the women were able to continue the use of the drug for months without harmful side effects.
Leaves are insect repellents. It is also useful for rheumatic swellings. Root juice is said to increases the growth of hair. Decoction of leaves may improve eyesight.
Leaf Juice: 10-20 ml
Root Bark powder: 3-6 gm
Seed powder: 3-6 gm
With its emphasis on long-term balancing of a woman’s hormonal system, vitex is not a fast-acting herb. For premenstrual syndrome or frequent or heavy periods, vitex can be used continuously for four to six months. Women with amenorrhea and infertility can remain on vitex for twelve to eighteen months, unless pregnancy occurs during treatment.
Ayurvedic Preparations: Nirgundi Kalpa, Nirgundi tail