Vitex agnus castus (Chaste tree)

What is Vitex agnus castus?

Vitex agnus castus, also known as Chaste tree, is a small shrub with purple flowers that is native to Greece and Italy.  Extracts of Vitex agnus castus are made from the plant’s fruit and may be used for the relief of premenstrual syndrome.

The history of Vitex agnus castus use

The peppery fruit of Vitex agnus castus has been used medicinally for at least two thousand years. Chaste tree, the plant’s common name, is derived from the traditional belief that it promoted chastity.1  Vitex agnus-castus berries were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to suppress sexual desire - and they were also used by monks in the Middle Ages for the same function.1

In the era of Hippocrates, Vitex agnus-castus was also used as a treatment for birth-related complications, including to restrict post-pregnancy bleeding.1 The Germans used Vitex agnus-castus during World War II to help stimulate breast milk production in women who were having trouble lactating due to stress.1

Today, Vitex agnus-castus is used primarily to help relieve pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and other menstrual cycle irregularities.

The specific extract used by Flordis

The specific Vitex agnus castus extract used by Flordis is known as Ze 440.  Ze 440 is manufactured in Switzerland under specific production methods. This individual and highly technical process helps ensure a consistent form and amount of Ze 440 is used in every formulation - meaning each final product will contain the same high quality active ingredient.

Natural medicines can vary considerably depending on how they are produced. Flordis believes it’s the science behind growing, harvesting and processing that delivers the true health benefits of natural medicine. That’s why in the making of a Flordis medicine, careful attention is applied to plant species and growing methods through to cultivation and harvest, using precise processes to help produce consistent crops. This is continued with extracting and manufacturing of specific ingredients following a series of strict controls to help deliver a consistent medicine from one batch to the next.

It is this specific medicine that is tested in clinical trials. And it’s the same medicine that you receive, which is one of the reasons you can feel good about its effectiveness.  Flordis medicines follow processes where all of the steps involved in the growth and manufacture of the natural medicine are tightly controlled to reduce variability and to help ensure consistency.

The Vitex agnus-castus extract used by Flordis, Ze 440, has been very well researched and has demonstrated good results in clinical trials.

Flordis medicines follow processes where all of the steps involved in the growth and manufacture of the natural medicine are tightly controlled to reduce variability and to help ensure consistency.

The seed to patient journey

The extract Ze 440 comes from both wild (origin – Mediterranean) and cultivated (origin India, Turkey & Spain) Vitex agnus-castus.  The plant extract is harvested, dried and stored in accordance with guidelines on Good Agricultural and Collection Practice (GACP) for starting materials of herbal origin. These defined specifications are fulfilled for Ze 440 regardless of whether it is of wild or cultivated origin.3

How it works

The causes of PMS are seen to be many; one thought is that they are linked to hormonal changes at ovulation and changes in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). For example, some of the PMS symptoms experienced are considered to be related to increases in the level of the hormone prolactin.

Ze 440 is believed to work by influencing the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, which in turn can help reduce prolactin release and hence lessen the symptoms of PMS. 4

Key studies on Ze440

Clinical trials have demonstrated that Ze 440 is able to significantly improve PMS symptom scores. Some of the key studies include:

  • A double-blind placebo controlled trial, published in the British Medical Journal, which showed more than half of the women taking Ze 440 experienced ≥50% improvement in their PMS symptoms5
  • A multicentre randomised control trial, which showed that PMS symptoms were reduced up to three cycles after treatment6

Premular has also been assigned a ‘well established medicinal use status’ a status based on its history, evidence and excellent tolerability.

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References

1.http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/ChasteTreefruit.html 2.http://www.examiner.com/article/vitex-agnus-castus-the-herb-and-its-history  3.Data on file –Internal correspondence with manufacturer – Zeller.  4.Meier B, et al. Phytomedicine. 2000;7(5):379-381.  5.Schellenberg R et al. BMJ 2001;322:134-137.  6.Berger D et al Arch Gynecol Obstet 2000;264:150-153,EMA/HMPC/144006/2009 Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) Community herbal monograph on Vitex agnus-castus L., fructus (Nov 2010)