Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden
Agnus castus (latin for ‘pure lamb’), Vitex agnus-castus, is also sometimes known as chaste berry, chaste tree or lilac chaste tree. It is native to North Africa, parts of Asia from Cyprus to Uzbekistan and much of Europe, and naturalised elsewhere.
Agnus castus is a deciduous shrub which reaches a height and spread of 3m (9ft). It is hardy in the UK, where it flowers in September to October, but is unlikely to produce fruit here. Of course, this may change with the climate.
Agnus castus should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding or by anyone trying for a baby.
Do not exceed the stated dose; reduce the dosage or discontinue if you get a sensation of insects crawling on the skin, a symptom of excessive use.
The name chaste tree comes from the use of this herb by monks, who used to chew it to reduce sexual desire. It is still used for the same purpose, although only in those who have a real problem with this; in those with a low sex drive, it’s likely to have the opposite effect and is sometimes used as an aphrodisiac.
It’s also used in both sexes for acne, colds, dementia, eye pain, headaches, inflammation and swelling, joint conditions, migraine, nervousness, spleen disorders and upset stomach.
It is not used in aromatherapy.
If you are able to produce fruit from the chaste tree, it’s important that you grow it organically to avoid contaminating the fruit with chemicals that you don’t want in your remedies. To find out more about organic gardening, visit the Gardenzone.