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Chasteberry

Chasteberry is a fruit that grows on flowering shrubs near riverbanks in parts of Asia and the Mediterranean. The fruit is dried and put into:

  • Liquids
  • Capsules
  • Tablets

Chasteberry is also sometimes called Monk's pepper.

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Why do people take chasteberry?

In ancient times, people thought chasteberry reduced sexual desire. Monks in the middle ages used the fruit to promote chastity.

Chasteberry is also an age-old folk remedy for helping new moms make more breast milk. However, this is no longer recommended because it is thought to be likely unsafe. It should be avoided in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

Today, the supplement is widely used in Europe to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some current research supports such use. Scientists think the supplement tells the body to make less of a hormone called prolactin. Too much prolactin can cause PMS symptoms such as:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Irritability
  • Depressed mood

Some small studies show that chasteberry can significantly reduce PMS symptoms. One study found that chasteberry cut PMS symptoms by 50% in more than half of the women who took it. Larger long-term studies are needed.

Typical dosages that have been used range from 20 to 40 milligrams of chasteberry extract a day. However, as with many supplements, optimal doses have not been established for any condition. And the quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely from maker to maker. This makes it hard to establish a standard dose.

Chasteberry also comes in a liquid form.

Other research hints that chasteberry might help with the following conditions, although the evidence is weak:

  • Infertility
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Menopause symptoms

Can you get chasteberry naturally from foods?

Chasteberry supplements are made from the dried fruit of the chasteberry bush. It is manufactured in pill or liquid form.

What are the risks of taking chasteberry?

No serious side effects of chasteberry have been reported.

The side effects of chasteberry may include:

  • Acne
  • Headache
  • Menstrual bleeding
  • Rash
  • Stomach upset
  • Weight gain
  • Dizziness

Research sponsored by the FDA Office of Women's Health shows that high doses of chasteberry may damage the liver.

Chasteberry can affect levels of hormones that play a key role in pregnancy, breastfeeding, menstruation, and even some breast cancers. You should not take chasteberry if you:

Chasteberry may interfere with medicines that affect levels of a brain substance called dopamine. Do not take chasteberry if you take:

  • Certain antipsychotic drugs
  • Parkinson's disease drugs

Always tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking, including natural ones and those bought without a prescription. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with any medications.

Supplements are not regulated by the FDA.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on December 17, 2012

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