Vitex agnus castus
English: Chaste tree
French: Gattilier commun
N.O. Gattiliers or Verbenaceae, Vitices
Family: Jussieu [vegetable substance] – Didynamia angiospermia
Mode of preparation: The juice of the ripe berries, leaves and flowers are mixed with equal parts of alcohol.
History: Agnus castus means chaste lamb, and its name hints at the remedy’s special action. The leaves of this plant were used to adorn the beds of Greek women during the absence of their husbands so as to prevent any impure thoughts from entering their minds and also by medieval monks to repress sexual desire. In the actual provings the remedy has shown that it does repress sexual instinct and desire.
The essential features
Agnus castus is a remedy which, I believe, will be increasingly needed in modern societies, especially by the younger generation and especially by homosexuals. It is a remedy that first excites the sexual sphere to the point of perversion and eventually depresses it, resulting in a decline in sexual power and joy and a depletion of bodily fluids. The individual feels that he has squandered his vital fluids, that he has nothing more to give, that he is dried up, totally empty inside; he feels as if he almost does not exist and has the impression that death is fast approaching.
The Agnus patient becomes prey to perverted desires and later on finds himself incapable of having normal sexual intercourse. Coupled with this incapability is a lack of enjoyment of life, dejection, depression, discouragement — all this plus a feeling of tiredness and of having wasted the best years of his life.
The remedy is indicated after all kinds of self-abuse common among many young people today, especially homosexuals; such as, sexual excesses, the use of psychoactive drugs, loss of sleep, constant excitement, improper nutrition, etc. Such people are easily excitable and indulge in many of these activities intensely over a lengthy period of time. Subsequently they become pale, anaemic, lose weight, are easily enervated, and become absent-minded; this general deterioration leads to a sense that death is near. The picture of Agnus in its end pathology looks similar to the picture of AIDS, but to justify the prescription of this remedy, the peculiarities attributed to it should be present.
Eventually these people begin to realize that their whole constitution is deteriorating. They develop the fear that within a few years or a few months they are going to die. They feel that they have overexerted themselves and dissipated their life energies to the point that their whole system has become rotten. Such young people reach a stage at which they are unable to concentrate on their studies or their daily tasks. To remember something they are reading they must read and re-read it again and again. They are unable to fix their attention on their reading (Phosphoric acid). They feel a kind of dullness in the head. They feel old in theirmind and body. In addition, they become impotent and suffer great preoccupation with this problem. They become convinced that they are about to have a nervous breakdown or that their vital organs are about to fail. This concern in Agnus castus becomes so great as to assume the proportions of significant anxiety about health, and, at times, hypochondriasis. In my experience, Agnus castus should be added to the Repertory under the rubrics “Anxiety about health” and “Hypochondriacal anxiety.” In this state, they close up in themselves, they do not want to talk, they feel totally insecure in everything and develop a kind of indecision.
The sexual sphere is, of course, the most important area of action in Agnus castus. As their constitutions break down after numerous excesses, these people become sexually impotent; however, they continue to entertain very exciting sexual fantasies. Consequently, they resort to masturbation either as their sole sexual outlet or in addition to other sexual activities. The Agnus castus man may become simultaneously so sexually weak and so excessively excited that he has a seminal emission merely upon embracing a woman. As the impotency deepens, he develops voluptuous fantasies but without any erection. In other cases, there may be early ejaculation without erection. There is a point in the beginning of their impotency where they are so frightened that will try to masturbate to see if they still have an erection, but the results of masturbation are devastating, they feel totally exhausted. Finally, such men may lose their sexual desire altogether. They become incapable of arousal. This last condition is seen especially in marriage; after many years of abuse, he finally marries a beautiful woman but finds himself completely impotent (Lycopodium). The genitalia seem cold and relaxed, as if the natural circulation is lacking. This is a condition not uncommonly encountered in older men who have overindulged throughout their lives.
So, in Agnus castus we have an excitable and easily arousable individual who overindulges sexually and then breaks down, first into having voluptuous fantasies without erection, and finally into complete loss of sexual desire. Also seen is excessive desire with lascivious thoughts on rising in the morning and, later on in the day, impotency.
It is interesting to note here that the Greek meaning of Agnus castus is of somebody who is pure and chaste! Was it possible that the ancients who coined its name had found out that if promiscuous people ate its berries they would become chaste again? Is it possible that the remedy was used to suppress sexual desire? From its name and the historical accounts of this remedy such usage is not only plausible but well supported. Here it might be of interest to quote the following.
“In order to pass childless married life, a man took for three months m. and e. twelve seeds of Agnus castus, thereby so weakened that he not only felt an obstacle to erections of penis, but – as he wished – he lost his semen entirely and never begot children” (LINDROW Venusspiegel, p,119) from Cyclopedia of drug pathogenesis by Hughes and Dake p. 203
Agnus castus is indicated for promiscuous young people who have abused their sexual energies through either homosexual or heterosexual multiple contacts and who have contracted repeated venereal infections, especially gonorrhea. They eventually lose their sexual power, lose the ability to ejaculate; instead their semen dribbles away as their desire for sex increases. These people become absent-minded and weak; they despair, cannot concentrate, cannot remember things and feel that death is approaching at great speed. [In acute conditions, such as during fever, the patient will repeat over and over again that he is going to die soon and there is no use in trying to do anything to save him (Argentum nitricum ).]
Sometimes the loss of sexual power comes slowly over a period of time without previous sexual abuses. In such cases the constitution is weak genetically. These are peevish, weak individuals who are sad, easily discouraged and who suffer a sense of worthlessness. They look and act older than their age, hence the appropriateness of this remedy for complaints of the elderly.
Women may also need Agnus castus, but to a lesser degree than men. In such cases the women are very lascivious, almost hysterical in their desire for sex. Incapable of being satisfied by normal relationships, they resort to their fancies and excessive masturbation. And, interestingly, if they eventually marry, they become depressed and frigid, completely lacking in sexual interest.
This remedy is for young people who are weak and impotent, who look degenerated with a pale countenance, who sometimes look prematurely old and who try to cover their weaknesses and impotency with eccentric behavior— an air of superiority and haughtiness when with others. But these same people, as soon as they are alone, will think about their vices, the masturbation towards which they are extremely prone, and will become dissatisfied, discontented, and despise themselves. It also happens that the Agnus castus patient breaks down in another manner: he feels that he is worthless, that he is absolutely useless. A deep passive depression emerges, a feeling as if he is nobody and nothing exists around him. This feeling of non-existence is so bad, so intense that he will admit that he would rather be dead. And then, after an interval, a different phase arises — at this time he has an illusion that he is a very great man, that he is somebody quite special, very wealthy for instance. His sense of self-importance swells considerably, and his energy increases a great deal. These two states may alternate, hence its usefulness in manic-depressive states.
Another variation of this manic-depressive state is a condition of total indifference, extreme apathy (Phosphoric acid) in which the individual feels as if nothing has ever existed. In this state, he has no initiative and is very discouraged; he stays at home doing nothing and lacks the energy to even dress and go out for a walk (Muriatic acid). Eventually he emerges from this condition and proceeds to a state of extreme cheerfulness and exaltation, something resembling a state of ecstasy that is not justified by the circumstances.
Agnus castus patients tend to appear pale, anemic, fatigued, anxious, and as if lacking in courage. They look prematurely old because of their past sexual abuses. Their eyes are sensitive to light and their pupils dilated. Their stomachs are easily disordered by food that is the least bit heavy.
General weakness as a result of violent anguish, from depression, while at the same time there is a drying up of vital fluids, the semen is very little or very thin, watery or lacking, the milk in nursing women is dried up etc. This dried up feeling is similar to Sepia.
The general modalities of pain resemble those of Bryonia: worse motion, better rest. Often there is a sense of inner trembling and coldness — an inner chill; this occurs even though the body itself may feel warm. In fever, there is constant trembling of the whole body from internal chilliness while the body itself feels warm to the touch. There is chilliness alternating with heat.
There is a kind of relaxation of internal organs (Sepia); one may see prolapsus and a feeling of weakness in the abdominal area. The sensation is more one of weakness than of pressing down. This same weakness can also lead to Silica -like constipation: the stools come out in pieces and they sometimes recede. Bruised feeling all over the body.
Headaches in general are worse from motion and are very much affected by the motion of the eyes (Bryonia, Ruta).
Constriction and tension in the forehead while reading. Heaviness in the head while looking sideways.
Tearing headache in the forehead or over the eyes, worse with the motion of the eyes.
Headache which is ameliorated by immobilizing the eyes and by looking fixedly at an object.
Tearing with pressure, in the temples and forehead, in the brain; more violent during motion.
Headache on the vertex or of the whole head which feels as if the patient had stayed for a long time in a stuffy room. Headache over the right eye and temple; soreness as if he had received a blow which is worse on touch, worse on motion and which recurs every evening for several days.
Pupils widely dilated.
Moving the eyes seems to bring on headache (see Head).
Dim vision before menses.
Pain in the right eye towards the temple as if he had received a blow. Itching about eyes. Itching in the upper eyelids.
Hardness of hearing.
Considerable heat in the left external ear.
Illusions of imaginary odors, as of herring, fishbrine, fermented beer or agreeable odors like musk. Hard aching pain in dorsum of nose, as if a stone was pressing there, ameliorated by pressure.
Itching in different parts of the face, especially on falling asleep. Drawing pain in left parotid gland. Tearing pain in right lower jaw.
Metallic taste, coppery, bitter.
Tongue is coated white.
Ulcers in the mouth and gums.
Viscid saliva which can be drawn out in threads; sensation of tenacious mucus in throat, as if a piece of cloth were hanging in the throat. Teeth painful when touched by warm food or drink.
Sensation as if tenacious mucus is lodged in the throat and cannot be expectorated. His voice sounds as if passing through wool; it has no characteristic tone.
Nausea in the pit of the stomach while standing.
Increased hunger, but the food he likes causes discomfort and general weakness. Desires sweets.
Pinching, griping, constricting pain while sitting in a bent position.
Loud rumbling in the abdomen during sleep. A sensation as if the intestines were sinking down with nausea; wants to support bowels with the hands.
Difficulty on expelling the stool, even that which is not hard; stool tends to recede.
Frequent diarrheic stool.
Offensive flatus having ammonia-like odor or smelling like old urine. Deep rhagades or fissures of the anus, often with pain when walking.
Frequent urination with copious dark urine.
A disagreeable sensation in the posterior urethra after urination.
Gleety, yellow or chronic white discharge from the urethra, after (suppressed) gonorrhea, with impotence and no desire for sex.
Genitalia – male
Coldness of the genitalia with weakness, loss of sexual desire, loss of erections and decreased amount of semen. Testes cold, swollen, hard and painful. Testes objectively cold at night.
Impotence, wanting erections, penis small and cold. Incomplete erections with strong desire. Impotence after gonorrhea or after continuous discharge from the urethra.
Violent erections with excessive sexual desire when rising in the morning. Semen dribbles out instead of being ejaculated during orgasm.
Odorless ejaculation. Penis is so relaxed that it cannot be excited with any sexual stimulation, be it real or imaginary. Emission of prostatic fluid while fondling women or walking. Emission of prostatic fluid while straining at stool. Old men suffer from constant dribbling of semen.
Genitalia – female
In puerperal mania there is depression and fear that death is near.
Agalactia in nursing women with great sadness and aversion to coition. Milk scanty, disappearing or suppressed. Sterility with no sexual desire. Sterility with suppressed menses.
Protracted menses that last 12 to 18 days.
Leucorrhea transparent or albuminous; staining linen; passes imperceptibly from the relaxed genitals.
Menses too late, scanty, absent or suppressed.
Metrorrhagia, uterine hemorrhages.
Here it is interesting to mention that that R. F. Weiss, Germany’s best known phytotherapist, writes about Agnus castus: …”many recent investigations have been made of agnus castus which have proved that it has an inhibitory effect on the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland, the organ which controls the production of hormones in the gonads. To-day Agnus castus is employed for cases of excessive or too frequent menstruation and seems to be particularly indicated for the kinds of disturbance (such as headache, feeling of tension in the breasts, depression, swelling of the lower legs, etc.) that many women experience from the middle of the cycle until the actual inset of menstruation. Agnus also increases the production of milk in nursing mothers; ..”
In Germany Agnus castus in the form of “Agnolut” is frequently prescribed for menstrual problems by allopathic physicians.
Agnus has also shown to have an effect in bleeding myoma, and will probably be of help in cases of premenstrual syndrome where hormonal inbalance is the main cause.
Agnus castus is indicated when there is a tendency to easy sprains and dislocations and for the long-lasting consequences of such sprains (over lifting, turning the foot inward while walking, etc.).
Rheumatic swelling of single joints, monoarthritis.
Some peculiar symptoms in the upper extremities are:
Pressure in right axilla and upper arm, worse from touch and motion.
Tearing pain in the right shoulder joint, worse on motion and on inspiration.
Swelling of the finger joints with tearing pains in gouty or arthritic nodes.
Perspiration almost only on hands, when walking in the open air (Thuja) In lower extremities:
Coldness of the knees, worse in the evening.
Stitching pain in the hollow of the knee while in motion and while standing. Shooting pain in the bend of the knee while standing. Twitchings of the leg on touch and also while walking. Weakness of the ankle in the morning, while walking Tearing pain in the foot, walking aggravates.
Heaviness of the right foot as from a weight. Rheumatic pain in left big toe; stitching pain causing the leg to jerk. Swelling of the thigh in the evening.
Restless sleep with constant dreams. Voluptuous dreams.
Lies on his left side preferably.
Wakes up unrefreshed.
Perspiration during sleep.
Impotency. Non-specific urethritis with impotency. Swelling of testicles; induration. Agalactia. Sterility. Leucorrhea. Mouth ulcers. Dislocations. Gouty joints. Rheumatic pains, monoarthritis. Chronic effects of sprains. Toothache.
Sexual excesses and drug abuse. Repeated attacks of gonorrhea. Sprains, dislocations from overlifting.
It is followed well by: Arsenicum Album, Bryonia, Ignatia, Lycopodium, Pulsatilla, Sulphur, Selenium.
It is antidoted by: Camphor, Natrum muriaticum; strong solutions of table salt, coffee. Inimical to it: warm food.
Dosage: From 30 C upwards.