Using an extract of Vitex agnus castus fruit, also known as chasteberry, can reduce the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) by at least 50 per cent, say German investigators.
The researchers studied 170 women who took 20 mg daily of V. agnus castus in tablet form for three consecutive menstrual cycles, and compared them with a group taking a placebo. In the herbal group, five of six common symptoms irritability, mood alteration, anger, headache and breast fullness improved significantly. Only bloating was unaffected by the herbal treatment.
Using a scale of 0 to 10, at least a 50 per cent reduction in symptoms was reported by 52 per cent of the treated women compared with 24 per cent with the placebo.
Vitex agnus castus has long been a favourite of herbalists and naturopaths for treating PMS. The results of this study suggest that this herbal should now be considered by conventional physicians to be an effective way of managing the often difficult to treat symptoms suffered by women in the premenstrual period (BMJ, 2001; 322: 134-7).