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What is Chasteberry?

In medieval times, the chasteberry (botanically known as Vitex agnus-castus) was thought to suppress the libido of both males and females. Legend has it that monks once chewed on the dried berries in an effort to adhere to their vows of celibacy. Today, it's clear that the herb does not affect sexual drive, but chasteberry does have an important role to play in treating women's reproductive-tract disorders and menstrual-related complaints. In Europe, chasteberry is now recommended more often than any other herb for relieving the symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome).

chasteberry may help to: Reduce PMS symptoms Before their periods, many women find themselves irritable, depressed, and bloated. These typical PMS symptoms may occur because of an insufficient production of progesterone in the two weeks prior to menstruation. Chasteberry helps to normalize the ratio of progesterone to estrogen, thus providing relief from these monthly discomforts. In a recent study of premenstrual women, 90% of those who took the herb reported that they experienced a reduction in PMS symptoms. Chasteberry may be as effective as another common PMS supplement--vitamin B6, which clears excess estrogen from the body--in controlling symptoms. While a German study actually found chasteberry to be superior to vitamin B6 for resolving PMS symptoms, it's worth trying the two together for maximum relief.

Minimize fibrocystic breast symptoms Many women suffer from the premenstrual breast tenderness and pain associated with fibrocystic breasts. Chasteberry's ability to lower prolactin concentrations as well as to restore the estrogen-progesterone balance may offer significant relief.

Regulate ovulation and promote fertility A woman with too much prolactin and too little progesterone in her body may not ovulate regularly. Obviously, it would be difficult to become pregnant under these conditions. Chasteberry can help to lower prolactin levels and aid in the normal functioning of the ovaries, thus providing opportunities for conception. The herb works best for women whose progesterone levels are mildly or moderately low. High prolactin levels can also cause amenorrhea (absent menstrual cycles). In such cases chasteberry may be useful in reestablishing a normal monthly cycle. Women suffering from infertility due to not only to an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone but also to high prolactin levels may benefit from chasteberry, too. In a 1988 study, 48 women (ages 23 to 39) with infertility and this type of condition--called a luteal phase defect--were given chasteberry once a day for three months. Of the 45 women who completed the study, seven became pregnant during the study. And in 25 of the women, progesterone levels returned to normal, a situation that improved the chances for future conception.

Treat menopausal difficulties Declining hormone levels in the years up to and after menopause can cause hot flashes, sweating, vaginal dryness, and even mild depression. Chasteberry (alone or combined with herbs such as dong quai or black cohosh) works to stabilize these hormone levels and can be beneficial in controlling symptoms.

Relieve the pain of endometriosis Chasteberry acts to restore hormonal imbalances responsible for endometriosis-related pain, which can be severe. It's commonly taken in combination with the herb dong quai for this purpose. Both herbs help to relax the uterus.

Control menstrual-related acne. Monthly periods involve hormonal shifts that can lead to acne. By helping to stabilize hormone levels, chasteberry may help to keep skin clear.

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Futurebiotics PMS Harmony

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