What really works to prevent urinary tract infections, night sweats, irregular periods, migraines, cancer, heart disease, and more.
Lorie A. Parch
1 of 9 | CHASTE TREE BERRY (Vitex agnus castus)
BEST FOR: Premenstrual syndrome. "There's very good data to suggest chaste tree berry as a general remedy for PMS," says Ellen Hughes, M.D., clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. A study of 170 women published in the British Medical Journal showed that 52 percent found relief from PMS-related irritability, mood changes, and headaches by taking this herb. It may also help regulate and normalize the menstrual cycle, according to Donielle Wilson, N.D., president of the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians, who suggests it to patients suffering from amenorrhea (no period), too-frequent periods, and symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Limited research suggests that chaste tree berry works by enhancing the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (the period between ovulation and menstruation), says Low Dog. HOW TO TAKE IT: Wilson recommends one or two capsules of dried herb standardized to 0.6 percent acubin (the active ingredient). "Capsule is preferable," she says, "because you'd have to drink about 24 ounces of tea a day—and it's difficult to find a standardized tea preparation." Alternately, you can take chaste tree berry as a tincture of 40 to 80 drops daily. SAFETY ISSUES: Rarely, the herb can cause skin rash, and it should not be taken during pregnancy or while breast-feeding. Chaste tree berry may also interfere with drugs that inhibit the effect of dopamine in the brain, such as certain antidepressants.