Spotlight On: Monk’s Pepper Berry

Ingredients, Skin Care
Vitex agnus-castus - flowering Chaste-tree
Monk’s Pepper Berry is beautiful and there are claims that it will make skin look firm and smooth, but there are only a few studies. (Photo credit: Tatters:))

Monk’s Pepper Berry is one of the newest ingredients in anti-aging. Though it’s been used in homeopathic medicine for years for various reasons, it’s just hit skin creams. There’s a lot out there about how it’s an endorphin that helps prompt the skin to heal and regenerate, but is it all it says it is? Well, the initial results look promising, but there’s plenty more scientific researching to be done to see if Monk’s Pepper Berry really stacks up.

What is Monk’s Pepper Berry?

English: Chinese Buddhist monks performing a f...
The plant derives its name from monks who harvest it for its ability to decrease libido. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monk’s Pepper Berry, also known as Chasteberry, earned its name for its traditional usage as a sexual desire suppressant. Monks in the Middle Ages purported used the lavender, floral plant, which hails from Central Asia and the Mediterranean, to curb their undesired libidinous appetites. The plant has been used for over 2,500 years for this effect, as well as the claims in homeopathic medicine that it relieves symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). It’s still used for this purpose today (American Family Physician, National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine).

Can it treat PMS?

Monk’s Pepper Berry has endorphins that help PMS. (Photo credit: cloois)

Monk’s Pepper Berry works on a hormonal level when used to treat menstrual disorders. It was once thought that Monk’s Pepper Berry worked to suppress the anterior pituitary gland, however new research suggests that it works as an endorphin. But current research suggests that it actually works to release dopamine, which in turn stops the pituitary gland from releasing prolactin, which causes issues like cyclical breast pain, increasing progesterone (Nutritional Wellness).

There have been a few low quality studies that have demonstrated that Monk’s Pepper Berry has a positive effect on PMS. A higher quality study observed the effects of Monk’s Pepper Berry on breast fullness (though not pain) and found that more than half the women saw a reduction of over 50% of their symptoms. Another double-blind study found that over the course of three menstrual cycles, found that cyclical breast pain was greatly reduced in the test group. However, studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Monk’s Pepper Berry on other PMS symptoms have been of poor quality and further research needs to be conducted (American Family Physician).

Can it Stop Aging?

Head of an old Roman, ca. 60 BC. The realistic...
Monk’s Pepper Berry has been used for thousands of years for various ailments, but scientists are just now looking at it as something that could slow aging. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The claim on Monk’s Pepper Berry is that it’s an antioxidant that helps defend the skin against damage and boosts regeneration. The endorphins found in Monk’s Pepper Berry may be beneficial (Cosmetics and Toiletries). Endorphins have recently been discovered in human skin and they have an immunomodulatory effect and stop the nerve ending pain response (Neuroendocrinology of the Skin). Lab tests appear to show that they push for the migration of melanin production and keratinocytes in melaninocytes. More, it’s believed these endorphins may have wound healing and skin-regenerative effects (Formulation and Science).

Unfortunately there aren’t many studies to back up these anti-aging predictions. One study done by creators of Monk’s Pepper Berry-based Happybelle-PE, Mibelle, found that women between the ages of 30 and 61 saw a 30 percent improvement in skin hydration and a 20 percent improvement in firmness with four weeks of usage (Formulation and Science).

There haven’t been many studies done on the recently introduced ingredient to firmly prove its efficacy. Initial studies are promising, but more need to be done to understand what negative side effects might arise and exactly how effective Monk’s Pepper Berry is.

Bottom Line

The aptly named Monk’s Pepper Berry, or Chasteberry, has an interesting back-story as something used to limit sexual desire for clergymen. It’s been used for thousands of years worldwide and more recently in European medicine to treat symptoms of PMS but many of the studies done to prove its efficacy have been weak. It has, however, been shown as effective in helping women suffering from cyclical breast pain. For as little research as there is on it’s effects on PMS, there’s even less on it’s anti-aging effects. The first studies are promising and it looks like Monk’s Pepper Berry, the newest anti-aging ingredient, could really help keep skin young — but we’re not totally convinced until more evidence is in.

If you’re looking to try Monk’s Pepper Berry, consider a product like Elegance Stages of Beauty ($48.99, with super moisturizing sodium hyaluronate and a skin-healing amino acid complex.

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