The common name of this herb is Agnus Castus. It is not a cactus (it is sometimes mispronounced "Agnus Cactus"), but a member of the Verbena family.
The name 'Agnus Castus' derives from the Greek for 'chaste'. According to Pliny, writing in the first century, Greek women wishing to preserve their chastity placed leaves of this plant on their beds and slept on them. Pliny's contemporary, Dioscorides, claimed that Agnus Castus preserved chastity because it smells so bad that, when strewn on the bed, it was enough to deter amorous advances from men!
Agnus Castus was certainly used widely by the ancient herbalists. Dioscorides even concurs with its current uses; "it both brings down the milk and expels the menstrua".
Although not a native plant of the UK, records indicate that it was in use here by 1500. It is then mentioned in Gerard's herbal in the seventeenth century. Until recent years, though, you would have difficulty finding much written in UK herb books about Agnus Castus. It is in the rest of Europe that the herb has had the most use over the past century.
Only in the last ten years has it become popular again in the UK - and, now, in America.
USES OF AGNUS CASTUS
The herb is mainly known as a remedy used by women. I will concentrate on its effects for PMT and menopause - its main uses today.
The effect it has on female hormones is largely a balancing effect. This 'normalising' influence makes it useful in a wide range of situations. And it can be helpful for a large proportion of the time - some studies indicate improvements in symptoms for 90% of sufferers from PMT.
PMT - Agnus Castus can improve;
Anxiety and other similar psychological symptoms
Short or long cycle
MENOPAUSE - Agnus Castus can improve;
Hot flushes (flashes)
Although Agnus Castus is recommended by several sources for increasing breast milk - as referred to by Dioscorides - I have come across little evidence for this.
poppy i've also heard about it and want to try it. i am not going to get any for this month as i am trying chinese medicine this month (don't want to od on 'remedies') however if no bfp this month then i will probably get some for next month. if you get any can you let me know what brand you got )
i think it just generally helps women with their 'girlie stuff' it regulates your cycle, hormones etc etc i'm hoping it will lower my prolactin
Not sure if I am going to get it yet - like you, I don't want to OD on supplements. Thought I would read up a bit more on it. I remember reading a post by someone (I think Wobbles) who said that there was some talk of agnus castus being good for getting the baby to implant properly. May 'google' some more!
I'd never heard of that! I have to admit I like to keep everything I intake to a minimum - meaning my food little and often to rid the nausea and my metformin which is a tablet for gestational diabetes.
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