Herb of the Month: Chaste Tree Berry

May might be the cutest month of the year….Just look at all of the spring babies! Birds, bunnies, caterpillars, and squirrels experiencing the sweet scent of spring for the first time. Their mamas lead the way while they trail in a row close behind…maybe I’m just a sucker for anything cute, and maybe I'm biased because I was born in May, but I always find a lot of hope and happiness come May. You know the saying, “April showers bring May flowers...”

Being herbalists, we prefer to flow with the natural cycles of the seasons over here at The Herb Shoppe. Because May is associated with birth, plant buds bursting, and all of the beautiful flowers spreading their seeds, how could we possibly ignore our own sexual and reproductive health?! 

Our reproductive wellness plays an extremely important role in our overall health. If we are struggling with fertility, pain, hormonal imbalance, ED, or other dysregularities, it has the potential to cause struggles in our relationships, confidence, family planning, sexuality, and more. Most of us in public school got the whole “puberty talk” sometime around 3rd grade, and I think we can all agree how painful that was to sit through! I remember seeing diagrams on the projector and the school counselor holding up this huge 2-liter bottle filled with red food coloring, explaining to us with uteruses to “not worry when we bleed because this is how much actual blood we will release throughout our life during menstruation.” I was absolutely mortified! I left that class feeling confused and with no real concept of how to nourish my reproductive system, or how to care for my sexual wellness. Even as an adult, it’s just not something worked into our societal norms. 

As a woman with menstrual disorders that I have dealt with since my first cycle, my reproductive wellness takes constant care. Sometimes it is so exhausting, especially when it can be difficult to find real support and care within our current medical system. It took many years for me to start pulling back the layers of my reproductive health. Despite years of different doctors and treatments, there was one key I was missing to my reproductive health; balancing my hormones. Not always, but oftentimes we can trace reproductive issues like low libido, painful cycles, uncomfortable menopause symptoms, and fertility troubles back to hormonal imbalances within the endocrine system, as it works hand in hand with our reproductive system. Hormonal imbalances can cause all sorts of dysregulations in the body such as; fertility troubles, premenstrual syndrome, headaches, metabolic irregularities, fatigue, depression, and more. On top of that, hormonal imbalances are more common than one may think.

For a long time, I just felt hormonal! I couldn't explain the exact feeling, but if you have ever had hormone imbalances, I’m sure you know what I mean. I later learned that my hormones were all out of whack. This was affecting everything from my menstrual cycle and mood swings, to my eating habits, sleep health, libido, and energy levels. All along I thought that it was just my reproductive system that needed care, when in reality I was desperately needing support for my endocrine system, too. Since balancing out my hormones, I have thankfully felt immense relief in many areas of my body, and my reproductive and sexual wellness has started to feel the first signs of relief in years. 

Our reproductive wellness can bleed (pun intended) into so many aspects of our life without us realizing it. It’s so important that we nourish our beautiful gift to reproduce, the chakra center for our creativity and power. (I could go on forever…) So without further adieu, let me introduce you to my friend, Vitex Berry

Vitex agnus-castus is commonly known as Chaste Berry or Vitex Berry. Belonging to the Verbenaceae plant family, the chaste tree is native to the Mediterranean but now grows in other temperate climates across the globe. The shrub-like tree blossoms with beautiful long, purple flowers. It reminds me of a Rosemary or Lavender bush, it is so beautiful! Vitex Berry has been used for thousands of years in traditional European herbal medicine. The berries were used by monks and soldiers during the middle ages, as it was believed to reduce libido, gaining the name of “chaste berry” and “monk's pepper.” It was also used by both men and women throughout ancient Rome and Greece. The berries of the Vitex tree are small in size, similar to a peppercorn. The berry is dried and used for tea, can be cracked and used as a spice, and is also made into a tincture.

Vitex Berry is widely known for its support of the reproductive and endocrine systems. Chaste tree berries can help to balance hormones by decreasing levels of prolactin, which in turn assists in balancing other hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. By balancing hormone levels in the body, Vitex Berry helps to alleviate menstrual disorders and dysregulations, such as pain and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and supports a healthy transition into menopause. These berries have also been used for uterine fibroids, painful breasts, and boosting breastmilk supply in new mothers. Chaste tree berries can potentially elongate the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, increasing fertility. 

Vitex Berries are a great choice for regulating hormones and assisting in reproductive functions. When combined with other reproductive and endocrine herbs, it can make a great ally on your path to sexual and reproductive wellness! You can find Chaste Berry in our Balancing Chaste Berry No-Salt Seasoning Blend, or come into the Shoppe and we can make a custom blend that is special just for you! 

I have no recipe for you including Chaste Berry this month. Instead of making something fun with Chaste Berry, I recommend that we all take some time to tune into our sacral chakra and allow ourselves to feel sexy and nourished! Stop and smell the flowers, babe. Learn more about the relationship between our sacral chakra and reproductive system here!

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