Chasteberry, scientifically known as Vitex agnus-castus, is the fruit of the chaste tree native to the Mediterranean region. The ancient Romans and Greeks believed that the fruit promoted chastity (hence the name) and was used to suppress sexual desires. Chasteberry is available as a liquid extract, capsules, tablets, and an essential oil.
Although chasteberry has been in use for treating various health issues like menstrual problems, menopause symptoms, and infertility, many side effects have been reported. Let’s examine the possible side effects of chasteberry.
12 Possible Side Effects Of Chasteberry
1. May Cause Rashes
Chasteberry may cause allergic reactions like the development of rashes on the skin. Therefore, if you are consuming chasteberry for the first time, it is always advised to have the fruit in small quantities. If you observe any appearance of rashes on your body, stop eating them and consult the doctor immediately and follow the prescribed medication to treat the rashes.
2. May Cause Headaches
Chasteberries may also cause severe headaches in some people. If you already have an existing condition of a migraine, you should avoid eating this berry as it may make the condition worse.
3. May Cause Acne
Chasteberries cause changes in your hormone levels and this may lead to acne breakouts. Hormonal acne can affect adults of any age and is most commonly seen in women.
Hormonal imbalance may aggravate acne by increasing skin inflammation, oil production in the pores, clogged skin cells, and acne-producing bacteria.
4. May Cause Mild Insomnia
Chasteberry is known to bind to dopamine receptors. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. A lack of dopamine may lead to Parkinson’s disease and may cause you to be more prone to addiction.
Since chasteberry affects the brain, it may cause changes in your sleep patterns resulting in mild insomnia. If you observe sleeplessness after eating chasteberries, try to avoid them.
5. May Affect Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
Pregnant women and breastfeeding women should strictly avoid this fruit as it is known to cause serious problems due to the effects on their hormones and uterus. Chasteberry is known to bind to dopamine receptors and affect the production of prolactin – a protein that enables milk production in mammals, causing a decrease in breast milk production.
The use of chasteberry by pregnant and lactating women has been controversial and until further evidence, it should not be encouraged to be consumed during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
6. May Worsen Hormone-Sensitive Conditions
Chasteberry affects the hormone balance of the body. Therefore, those with a hormone-sensitive condition like breast cancer should avoid this fruit. Other hormone-sensitive conditions include fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer.
If you have any of the mentioned conditions or any other existing hormone-related health issues, it is advised not to consume chasteberries.
7. May Interfere With Treatment Of Parkinson’s Disease
Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease or any other disease affecting the central nervous system are advised not to eat chasteberries. This is because the medications for these diseases often affect the dopamine present in the brain and when combined with chasteberries, it may result in more side effects.
8. May Decrease The Effect Of Birth Control Pills
Patients taking oral contraceptives or undergoing a hormone replacement therapy should not have chasteberries. This is because chasteberries may cause hormonal imbalance in the body and may interfere with birth control pills, bringing down their efficacy.
9. May Cause Diarrhea, Nausea, And Vomiting
Chasteberry may cause an upset stomach and, in some, indigestion. These issues may further lead to diarrhea, resulting in dehydration. Therefore, avoid chasteberries if you have an upset stomach.
Some people may also experience nausea and vomiting. So, if you feel any discomfort, stop consuming chasteberries immediately.
10. May Cause Weight Gain
Chasteberries may cause you to gain more weight by interacting with hormones that are responsible for distributing fat in your body. This may lead to weight gain and bloating.
If you experience bloating or observe an unusual increase in your weight after eating chasteberry, you should stop having it to avoid these side effects.
11. May Cause Irregular Menstrual Flow And Fatigue
Some people may experience an increase in the menstrual flow because chasteberries affect the hormone balance of the body. This may, in turn, cause fatigue and tiredness.
12. May Interfere With Antipsychotic Drugs
Those taking dopamine-related medications to treat psychotic disorders should avoid chasteberry. As mentioned earlier, they affect the dopamine present in the brain and may interfere with these medications thereby reducing their effects to treat the respective disorder.
To be on the safe side and to avoid any possible side effects, take chasteberry only under medical guidance. If you consume the berry and experience any discomfort or any of the mentioned adverse effects, consult the doctor immediately.