Vitex agnus-castus, also called Vitex, Chaste Tree, Chasteberry or Monk's Pepper, is a native of the Mediterranean region. Vitex agnus-castus is widely cultivated in warm temperate and subtropical regions for its delicate-textured aromatic foliage and butterfly attracting. It grows to a height of 1–5 meters. It requires full sun or partial shade along with well-drained soil. The leaves and tender stem growth of the upper 10 cm, along with the flowers and ripening seeds, are harvested for alternative medicinal purposes. The berries are harvested by gently rubbing the berries loose from the stem. The leaves, flowers, and berries may be consumed as a decoction, traditional tincture, cider vinegar tincture, syrup, elixir, or simply eaten straight off the plant as an alternative medicinal food. In alternative medicine, it is believed the berries are a tonic herb for both the male and female reproductive systems. The leaves are believed to have the same effect but to a lesser degree.
In ancient times it was believed to be an anaphrodisiac, hence the name chaste tree. More recently, this plant has been called monk's pepper in the thought that it was used as anti-libido medicine by monks to aid their attempts to remain chaste. There are disputed accounts regarding its actual action on libido, with some claims that it is anaphrodisiac and others that it is aphrodisiac. Clinical studies have demonstrated effectivness of standardised and controlled medications produced from extract of the plant in the management of premenstrual stress syndrome (PMS), and cyclical breast pain (mastalgia).
Vitex agnus-castus is used to alleviate symptoms of various gynecological problems, different extracts or herbal mixes may have significantly different properties and safety issues. Some of the modern uses include premenstrual syndrome, abnormal uterine bleeding disorders andmastodynia.