An extract from the fruit of the chaste tree, Vitex agnus castus, is an effective treatment for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), according to researchers at the Institute for Health Care and Science, Hüttenberg, Germany (BMJ. 2001;322:134-137). The plant, which contains iridoids and flavonoids (in the fruit) and compounds with biochemical similarity to sex hormones (in the leaves and flowers), has been used traditionally to treat PMS symptoms.
In the study, 170 women with PMS were randomly assigned to receive a daily tablet containing V agnus castus extract or a placebo and evaluated for changes in symptoms (from baseline) after three menstrual cycles. The investigators found that patients taking the extract experienced significant improvement in five of the six self-assessment measures (irritability, mood alteration, anger, headache, and breast fullness); other menstrual symptoms, including bloating, remained unchanged by treatment.
Stephenson J. Fruit Extract for PMS. JAMA. 2001;285(6):725. doi:10.1001/jama.285.6.725-JWM10001-2-1