By rights, this plant should be called Vitex agnos-castus, not V. agnus-castus. We can blame Pliny for the agnus part of the name; he mistranslated the agnos centuries ago. That ancient name, Agnos, gives us a clue to the properties of the plant, and lets us know that the ancient Greeks knew all about it. Agnos means infertile. Agnos is related to hagnos, meaning chaste. Agnus castus has also been called Monk's Pepper and Cloister Pepper. This is because it was thought to help Europeans in the Middle Ages with vows of chastity, especially men, to keep their solemn vows. Agnus castus was a regular table spice on the tables of monasteries during the Middle Ages because it has been thought to dampen sex drive, especially in men. Other names that this tree has carried over the years express this as well: Chaste Lamb, Abraham's Balm, and the most popular common name currently, Chaste Tree. Found first in the Mediterranean, the ripe, dried fruit is used much as it was by the ancient Greeks. Back then it was sacred to Demeter and Hera. Later it became sacred to Ceres and used in her invocation. Associated with the Moon, it has been used for fertility and chastity magick.
The chemistry found in this herb makes the seed bitter, pungent, slightly astringent, calming, and stimulating. Some report that it cools while others find it warming. The essential oil, found at about 1.64% of the seed, includes sabinene, 1.8 cineole, alpha-pinene and glycosides, including vitexinin and vitexin.
Not to be used internally during pregnancy. Interacts with hormonal birth control methods. In animal experiments there is evidence of a dopaminergic effect of the drug; therefore, a reciprocal weakening of the effect can occur in case of ingestion of dopamine-receptor antagonists.Excerpted with permission from Materia Medica by Liz Johnson (unpublished). For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While we do not sell herbs for internal use, we recognize that once in the customerís hands, the customer will decide what to do with these products. We provide warning information, updated regularly, with this in mind. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. (Health needs should always be considered before taking herbs, supplements, or medications. Talk to someone qualified in the use of these herbs before using to affect health.)