Chaste tree is also known as monk's pepper used to lessen menstrual disorders and enhance Pituitary function.
As early as the 16th century, it was thought to inhibit libido, thereby adopting the name. In the 1930s German researchers began studying it for use to relieve menstrual disorders.
It is the small dried ripe fruits that are used as a tonic for the reproductive system. It is secondarily know for normalizing the pituitary gland functions, especially its progesterone function. It is approved in Germany for dysmenorrhea (irregular menstrual cycles), mastalgia, and PMS . Chaste tree berry extract contains an active principle that binds to dopamine receptors in the hypothalamus/anterior pituitary, an action that inhibits the release of prolactin. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that carries messages from nerve cells to other cells.
A dopamine deficiency is believed to be involved in several conditions, including Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia, in humans. This means it will interfere with the effectiveness of drugs like Pergolide (Permax). The aromatic fruit may have dopaminergic properties; it inhibits the secretions of prolactin by the pituitary gland. (Amenorrhea can be associated with elevated blood levels of prolactin, and drugs that reduce prolactin concentrations can normalize the menstrual cycle.)
Sources: American Botanical Council, 1995. Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine, Principles and Practice, edited by Allen M. Schoen and Susan G. Wynn, Mosby, Times Mirror Company, 1998.
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