Chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus) fruit extracts have been shown to reduce premenstrual symptoms of breast pain and swelling (mastodynia) and other premenstrual mental and physical symptoms.
Large amounts of prolactin are produced premenstrually and are probably the cause of mastodynia. Prolactin levels are increased by pituitary tumors(prolactinomas) during stress and in certain stages of deep sleep. Some people produce large amounts of prolactin simply as the result of their daily stress.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that can suppress prolactin levels. Chemicals like dopamine, which reduce prolactin levels, are called dopaminergic. Some diterpene chemicals, called clerodadienols, were found in Chaste tree with strong dopaminergic effects of reducing the release of prolactin.
Forskolin (from Coleus forskohlii) stimulates the release of prolactin by the pituitary. The clerodadienols from Vitex counteract the forskolin induced release of prolactin.
In one study a synthetic dopamine agonist relieved premenstrual depression, sadness, irritability, emotional reactivity, etc. The present study was done to determine whether Chaste tree fruit extracts could reduce blood levels of prolactin and reduce breast pain and other premenstrual symptoms. This study did show that Chaste tree could reduce prolactin blood levels. After three months of treatment with Chaste tree, the patient’s excessive prolactin blood level fluctuations were normalized.
CONCLUSION: Chaste tree (Vitex) was shown by the authors to reduce blood levels of prolactin. This is most likely due to the dopaminergic chemicals found in the extracts of the fruit. The study with Vitex resulted in reduced breast pain, swelling and, possibly, reduction of other symptoms. A three month treatment with Chaste tree was beneficial for people who were secretors of excessive prolactin.
NOTE: Read about the connection between high prolactin levels, autoimmune disease and the effect of Vitex agnus casti.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR FOR: A blood test for prolactin, especially premenstrually, will show if your prolactin production is high.
To read the author’s abstract of the article click on the link to the author’s title of the article above.