Vitex Agnus Castus
wow…what an amazing plant!!!
It is commonly known as “Chaste Tree” , “Monk´s pepper” or “Cloister Pepper” because one of its properties is to reduce sexual desire and so it was used as a food spice in medieval monasteries to reduce the monks´ libido. It is also recorded that Roman women whose husbands were abroad with the legions spread the aromatic leaves on their beds for the purpose of not “ falling into temptation”.
The Vitex extracts have been used as anti-inflammatory, expectorant, tranquilizer, antispasmodic, rejuvenative, anti-arthritic, anti-fungal and antipyretic. The seeds are recommended for controlling premature ejaculation . Vitex relieves muscle aches and joint pains. The Ayurvedic and Unani Pharmacopoeia of India has documented the use of the leaf, seed and the root to treat excessive vaginal discharge, edema, skin diseases, pruritus, helminthiasis, rheumatism and puerperal fever.
The rich story behind the name
Genesis 22 relates the story of the Binding of Isaac, in which Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. But the Angel stopped him and he finally sacrificed a ram that was caught in a bush nearby. The Jewish tradition teaches us that the bush in which the ram was caught was the Vitex agnus-castus. The Latin name reflects this tradition (vitex = life, agnus = lamb, castus = humble, pure), that is to say “the life of the innocent lamb” .
A third name in English also reflects this tradition, “Abraham’s balm”, and the Hebrew name of the plant translates to “Abraham’s bush.”