Chasteberry for treating PMS

THE herb chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus [VAC]) is native to the Mediterranean region. The Greeks named it from agnos castus, meaning ‘chaste’, and it was used by priests and nuns to help suppress sexual desires. 

Hippocrates recognised its use for treating “imbalances of the female reproductive tract and to facilitate birthing and milk-production”. Specifically he notes, “If blood flows from the womb, let the woman drink dark wine in which the leaves of the chaste tree have been steeped.” Today, GPs in Germany commonly prescribe an extract of VAC for PMS.1

A number of randomised control trials (RCTs) and a systematic review demonstrate VAC can be of benefit for PMS compared with placebo. The systematic review assessed 17 RCTs for various herbal remedies and found the four trials testing for VAC consistently reported ameliorating PMS better than placebo.2 An extract of VAC was compared to placebo in two RCTs for women suffering