Agnus castus health benefits: mainly for women

Agnus castus is sometimes called the lilac chaste tree

Agnus castus is sometimes called the lilac chaste tree

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.

Agnus castus is mainly used to bring female hormones into balance. It has been shown to relieve infertility due to hormonal problems (if used for an extended period). It is also helpful as a birthing aid, for easing the menopause and relieving PMS, regulating heavy periods (menorrhagia) and restoring missing ones (amenorrhea). Men use it to increase urine flow and reduce BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia/enlargement). Please ensure you get a cancer check before using it for the latter purpose.

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.

I offer Periagna® (Agnus castus) 400mg capsules and Agnus Castus seed in my online store.

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.

Bog Myrtle health benefits: for memory loss and dementia

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Bog myrtle with female flowers, male catkins inset

Bog myrtle with female flowers, male catkins inset

The bog myrtle, Myrica gale (perhaps labeled with the older names Gale palustris or Myrica palustris), is also known as bayberry and sweet gale. It’s a hardy deciduous shrub which can reach a height and spread of 5′ (160cm), and is native to Europe, Asia and North America. It is not related to the common myrtle or the lemon myrtle.

As you might expect from its name, bog myrtle will only grow where the soil is wet, or at least moist. It’s happy in any soil, even soil which is very acid, and will grow in full sun or partial shade. If you want to produce fruit, you will need both a male and a female plant, but as the leaves are the part used in medicine, this is not essential unless you want to process the fruits to produce wax, which can be used to make naturally fragrant candles.

As bog myrtle is difficult to raise from seed, you will probably find it easier to buy a cutting or small plant from a nursery, and if you want fruit, you will need to buy one male and one female to ensure this.

Bog myrtle is an abortifacient, and is therefore not suitable for use during pregnancy or by anybody trying for a baby.

Leaves may be chewed raw or used to make a standard infusion. To make this, use 30g (1 ounce) of dried or 3 handfuls of fresh to 570ml (2.5 US cups, 1 UK pint) boiling water. Allow to stand for 3-4 hours and then strain. The dose is 75ml (1/3 US cup, 3 fl oz) up to 3 times a day. Do not exceed the stated dose.

Bog myrtle is used to promote menstruation, as a tonic especially useful during illness or stressful periods, and as a treatment for memory loss and the early signs of dementia.

As with all herbs intended for use as remedies, bog myrtle should be grown organically so as to ensure its active constituents are not weakened or entirely eliminated by the influence of foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic bog myrtle visit the Gardenzone.