Chaste Tree Berry / Vitex agnus-castus
Native to the Mediterranean through to Asia, and now grown throughout the world, this small flowering shrub is also referred to as Chasteberry, Chaste Tree, Cloister Pepper and Monk’s Pepper.
Its botanical name vitex, is derived from the Latin word vieo meaning to ‘weave’, referring to the ancient use of its bark and twigs in basketry. Agnus-castus meaning ‘chaste lamb’ refers to an old belief around chastity.
The dried fruit (berry) is used to:
- Relieve symptoms of premenstrual tension
- Help reduce occurrence of premenstrual tension symptoms
- Relieve breast tenderness associated with premenstrual tension
- Maintain healthy menstrual cycle
- Reduce menstrual cycle irregularity
- Support healthy female hormonal balance
- Relieve symptoms of menopause
It is believed that monks would eat the berries and leaves of this tree to help promote chastity, hence the name variations Monk’s Pepper, Chaste Tree and Chasteberry.
Goji Berry / Lycium
Also referred to as Chinese Wolfberries, this deciduous woody shrub is native throughout China, Tibet and Mongolia and is now grown worldwide. The etymological origin of “Goji” is unclear, but it is likely a simplified spelling of the Mandarin word gǒuqǐ.
Described to have a tangy yet sweet taste, the small teardrop-shaped, vibrant red-orange berries are delicate, and must be shaken from the vine rather than picked in order to avoid spoiling. Besides the fruit, use of other parts of the Goji berry plant, including flower, leaf, seed, and root bark, are also recorded.
Traditionally, dried Goji berries are cooked before they are consumed and also are commonly used in Chinese soups and as herbal tea. Used in Traditional Chinese medicine to help treat ‘yin deficiency’ in the body, the health benefits of the Goji berry, has been recorded from the empirical insights of Chinese doctors over hundreds of years, and was believed to be considered beneficial for strengthening the body and easing life through all the seasons.
Schisandra / Schisandra chinensis
Traditionally used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to:
- Reduce symptoms of stress
- Support healthy liver function
- Support healthy sleeping patterns
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, this herb is considered harmonising because of its ability to contain all five basic flavours.