Chaste tree berry (vitus agnus-castus) has long been used by women to help with issues such as menstrual cycle irregularities, PMS, acne, menopause, and infertility. This herb, which comes from the berry of the Chaste tree, native to the Mediterranean region, has been well-studied, and researchers have found it to have a positive effect on human hormonal issues. However, you may be interested to know chaste tree berry is also commonly used with horses.
For equine supplementation, the berries are dried and then ground into a fine powder, which most horses find palatable if mixed with feed. The most well-known use of chaste tree berry is for horses with symptoms of Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), formerly known as Cushing’s disease. The pituitary gland uses hormones to control bodily functions, and PPID causes this gland to work overtime, which can lead to a variety of problems, such as abnormal fat deposits or unexplained laminitis. However, dysfunction of the pituitary gland is connected not only with PPID, but also insulin resistance and hypothyroidism.
Chaste tree berry supports normal functioning of the pituitary gland by naturally balancing and maintaining dopamine levels produced by the gland. It also balances out progesterone levels, making it a good option for ‘moody’ mares. And because of its hormone-balancing effects, it can aid in calming overly-aggressive stallions or geldings as well.
For horses with PPID or insulin resistance, chaste tree berry should be fed in conjunction with a low-NSC (non-structural carbohydrate) diet. If the diet isn’t appropriate, you may not see much effect with chaste tree berry.
Another great thing about this herb is that it has no known side effects. Chaste tree berry can be fed in conjunction with most medications, though steroids may weaken its effect. It is often considered a safe alternative to Pergolide, the drug commonly used to treat PPID horses, as well as Regumate, a drug often used to suppress heat cycles in ‘moody’ mares.
The only instance in which chaste tree berry is NOT recommended is for pregnant mares.
At The Holistic Horse, we offer Organic Chaste Berry Powder in a 1 lb. package and recommend feeding 1 – 3 teaspoons per day (1,200 – 3,600 mg) for a 1,000 pound horse. Chaste tree berry is also a main ingredient of the Balance blend in our Signature Line of equine herbal products.
If you have a horse either diagnosed with or showing symptoms of PPID, insulin resistance, or hypothyroidism, or if you have a ‘moody’ mare or aggressive gelding or stallion, chaste tree berry may very well be the herb which can make a huge difference in their health or behavior.