Vitex agnus-castus is a supplement derived from berries. It is also called Vitex, Chaste Tree, or Chasteberry.
It is primarily used today to alleviate the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Vitex agnus-castus has outperformed placebo in numerous trials, and has been shown to be effective at reducing hot flashes, bloating, irritability, sleep disturbances, depressions, various mood disorders and even cramping associated with premenstrual syndrome.
Though animal evidence suggests that taking Vitex agnus-castus may increase estrogen and progesterone levels, further research is needed to confirm this effect. Vitex agnus-castus has limited use outside of its effects on premenstrual syndrome.
Vitex agnus-castus acts similarly to dopamine, by reducing prolactin levels, which are elevated during premenstrual syndrome. It may also act on the opioid system by releasing beta-endorphins, something the human body lacks during premenstrual syndrome.
Though Vitex agnus-castus has been used for a long time, by people that also use birth control, further research is needed to confirm its safety. It does not appear to interact with any pharmaceuticals, but because of the lack of evidence, pregnant or lactating women should not take Vitex agnus-castus.