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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chasteberry Tree

The picture above was taken from here. It is a close-up of a cluster of leaves, flowers and berries from the chasteberry tree. The cultivar that is most often documented in medical herbalism is the vitex agnus castus, which grows in the Mediterranean. The cultivar that I have and is pictured above, is the vitex trifolia. There is one more cultivar called the vitex rotundifolia, which I am unfamiliar with.

I gave The Husband a rude shock 3 weeks ago when he caught me staring out our window in tears. Me, the optimistic and always happy one. I couldn't explain myself. I had absolutely no energy for anything and since the overwhelming fatigue prevented me from enjoying life... gardening, cooking, eating, writing, laughing, playing, talking... I felt like dying and thought it might be a nice relief from the intolerable state of vegetative living.

Needless to say, The Husband was MOST concerned. He left HIS hobbies alone to come and sit with me, hold me and chat with me. It helped. But only a little bit.

It turned out that I was simply severely anaemic and severely lacking in Vitamin B12... a result of a diet with insufficient animal fat, and monthly menstruation flow heavy enough to fatten up a few vampires at once. Meanwhile, I began to look like a wraith and behave like one. It was all a terribly ghoulish experience.

With the right vitamins and iron supplements, I began to feel alive again until 5 days ago when I began to experience the now familiar premenstrual tension. I become fat with water retention. The breasts become sore. The uterus becomes so engorged with blood that a hard lump develops at the pelvic region. The severe uterine cramping begins. And an overwhelming fatigue sets in because there is so little blood left to sustain the rest of my body. I feared that I was again to become a vampire's buffet.

I brewed myself a mug of chasteberry tea everyday for the past 5 days. I was not hopeful at all because much of the literature suggests that one would have to take this tea for a month at least to see any results. By day 2, the hard lump of the engorged uterus had softened considerably. By day 3, the uterine cramping had become far more gentle than I remembered in many many months. It had almost become normal for me to bear with a few days of almost-labour pains every month. When the menstruation began on day 4, I was amazed that I wasn't prostrate the whole day.

Instead, I was up and about hosting one party and then attending another. It was all nerve-wracking for The Husband who would have been much embarrassed by my absence from his side. I was still a little less than my usual energetic self, but at least I could function and look normal.

I am EVEN MORE amazed that the menstrual flow today is only 30% the normal volume. I am not a vampire's buffet this month. Maybe just a snack... With this, it will be easier to re-establish my haemoglobin levels and come back to the human world from wraithland.

This said, I have also been taking rose tea which is supposed to reduce internal haemorrhaging. So I don't really know which tea I have to thank for the light menstrual flow. I do know however that the sore breasts, water retention and extreme fatigue went almost away after 3 doses of chasteberry tea.

I will stop taking rose tea next month and see if chasteberry tea alone does reduce heavy menstruation.


Open Kitchen Concept said...

Oh dear.. I do understand what you mean - our physical health can really affect our mental health.. Before I took my thyroid pills, I feel bloated all the time and sometimes feel very miserable and very sorry for myself. But Petunia, are you also seeing a doctor or gynae...? You might already be.. but just in case you forgot...

petunialee said...

Thanks for the concerned reminder. I will monitor a few months more with chasteberry tea... and will go and see the gynae if it doesn't help. Meanwhile, the vitamin supplements and iron should help re-establish the haemoglobin.

It's been so many years since I've been relying on my garden to heal myself that I turn to it before seeking conventional help.

Dun worry, I'm not one of those spiritual wackos who delude themselves. If I don't see results, I will definitely seek conventional help.

Blur Ting said...

Oh dear. I am so sorry to hear you've been unwell. I do empathise and hope this will not happen every month. I want to see your face radiating with a healthy glow like before.

jacquelyn said...

Hello! I go by Jiexin (my Chinese name) on GCS, remember me?

Anyway recently I went back to GCS to check out if there's any new stuff. Actually I went back because my gerbera is flowering again and my grandparents' pomegranate (I've moved! To my grandparents', albeit temporarily. It's a much sunnier place) is fruiting vigourously. The sight of the growing plants reminded me of the warm encouragement and chatter that was abound in GCS. And then, I was reminded of you.

So I checked out your blog and hope it's still there, and yes it is. I was a little disheartened to hear that you have been through a rough patch, but I'm glad to know you've got help and a wonderful partner on hand. My mother seems to have similar menstrual symptoms as well and this is really informative for me. I'd recommend her chasteberry tea if it's still the same this month.

Anyway, hope that you will be well. Regards, Jacquelyn

petunialee said...

Hi Jiexin - How can anyone forget you!!? Good to see you back on GCS!

If your mom is about my age, it is very important for her to take calcium and full complement iron supplements. Full complement iron means it contains all the vitamins required for the body to male red blood cells.

Women at this age lose bone mass. In the short term you feel nothing but when older, the bones can easily shatter.

I will post and let you know how chasteberry tea performs for me next month?

jacquelyn said...

My mother is nearly 50. She hates milk! I will try to get her calcium and iron supplements. Her physique is not of top form.

By the way, any new additions (plant, animal or otherwise...) to your family? Haha. I read that you've got a lovely little dog.

petunialee said...

At 50, she definitely needs to take calcium. Supplements is best but she can also take yoghurt and cheese?

jacquelyn said...

Sorry for the late reply.
Well my mother hates dairy products of any kind. She doesn't even like parmesan on pasta. She's better than the old her now though, at least now she tries to drink chocolate milk :/