The British Medical Journal last week published a study on the agnus castus fruit, also known as "Chaste tree", showing that more than half the women who took it had a 50 per cent or greater improvement in the symptoms of premenstrual symptoms.
Agnus castus (Vitex agnus castus) is a small tree native to southern Europe and western Asia. It has been used for ailments including haemorrhage, fevers and headaches, treating irregular periods and restoring fertility.The plant contains compounds similar in structure to sex hormones. One of these reduces prolactin levels in the body slightly, which both alleviates the symptoms of PMS and may also help increase fertility. The plant also contains a substance which controls lutenising hormone. This in turn increases progesterone production which keeps the menstrual cycle regular.
The study followed 178 women diagnosed with PMS who suffered symptoms such as unstable mood, anger, anxiety, tiredness, sleep disorders and bloating. They took one 20mg tablet a day throughout three monthly cycles, and the treatment was especially effective for irritability, mood alteration, anger, headache and breast fullness.
The authors say that, following the positive results, agnus castus should now be considered by medical practitioners as a therapeutic option for women suffering from PMS.