There is a lot of literature about the herbal uses for chaste tree, but very little documented usage of the essential oil. Claims have been made that chaste tree essential oil enhances the production of progesterone, bringing balance to female hormones. It may ease menstrual discomforts such as cramps, irritability, headaches, depression and breast swelling. Chaste tree also works well for reducing the symptoms of menopause. Preliminary trials suggest effectiveness in treatment of infertility and irregular menstrual cycles. Chaste tree, in herbal form, is used for polycystic ovarian syndrome, uterine fibroids, infertility, and miscarriages due to luteal phase defects. (This type of miscarriage is described briefly on page 98. Essential oils have the same therapeutic properties as the plants from which they are made. The therapeutic properties are more concentrated in the essential oil, often making them even more effective than in the herbal form.
The Vitex agnus castus variety of chaste tree is native to the Mediterranean area (Turkey), while Vitex negundo is found in Asia and Africa. Studies are being conducted at Ege University in Izmir, Turkey, on the use of Vitex oil for reversing the symptoms of Parkinsonâs disease. In the book by Connie and Alan Higley, Reference Guide for Essential Oils, the Higleys seem to be indicating that the Vitex studied for Parkinsonâs is Vitex negundo. Vitex (both neguno and agnes) appears to be a natural source of L-dopa. L-dopa stimulates production of the neuro-transmitter L-dopamine in the brain. The lack of L-dopamine production is a factor in Parkinsonâs disease. Several Vitex varieties are now being looked at around the world as natural sources of L-dopa. The essential oils of both plants contain sesquiterpenes. Sesquiterpenes cross the blood/brain barrier, carrying the L-dopa and other therapeutic properties of the essential oil along with them. The synthetic pharmaceutical products currently in use cannot do this, which makes them very ineffective. Not being able to get medications to cross the blood/brain barrier has been frustrating the medical community for years. Perhaps, natural substances will prove their superiority in medical applications once again.