Chaste berry is a plant which grows naturally in an area from the Mediterranean to Western Asia, however in the 16th century it was widely grown in England because of its potency.

Chaste berry (or agnus castus) is part of the vervain family of plants and is an aromatic shrub with long spires of pale lilac flowers and small grey/brown hard fruits (which look similar to black peppercorns).

This plant can be found growing next to water, particularly fast flowing streams, but also grows indry rocky areas on the Greek and Italian coastlines.

Chaste berry has been used for medicinal purposes since approximately 400BC. The Greeks and Romans used the plant for women¨s hormone imbalance and around 900AD this herb was widely used in the Middle East, especially in Persia and Egypt.

In the 15th century, as herbalism gathered pace, many references to chaste berry can be found throughout Europe.

Gerard, one of the great herbalists of that time, encouraged the use of agnus-castus asa “female herb” and stated that “the seeds are good against pain and inflammation of the uterus”.

More recently a great deal of research has been carried out in Germany. According to Dr Rudolf Fritz Weiss, chaste berry acts on the hypothalamus andpituitary. The pituitary gland regulates the other glands of the body, including the sexual hormones.

It is known that agnus-castus can decrease the oestrogen balance in the body.

Using chaste berry on horses

It has been known for some time that mares suffer from PMS prior to and during their “seasons”.

This can cause irritability, aggression and general unpleasantness in the mare and makes riding during this time difficult.

Agnus-castus given just before themare¨s season commences, and continued through each season can have a dramatic effect on the mare.

While there is no guarantee that it will work in all cases, there is evidence to suggest that where unsociable and aggressive behaviour is brought about through PMS and hormone imbalance, chaste berry can help.

Information supplied by Equine Health & Herbal, manufacturers of Hormonise. For further information contact Equine Health & Herbal on (tel: 01787 476400) or visit www.equinehealthandherbal,co.uk