Chaste. According to the dictionary it means:
- Abstaining from sex
- Sexually faithful
- Pure in thought and deed
Iâ€™m not sure about the plain part. Perhaps the thinking is the person is so unattractive they arenâ€™t likely to get any. Chaste has always meant, to me, being sexually inactive. Which brings to mind a story about my husbandâ€¦
At the time he and I were boss and employee. There was nothing romantically going on between us, and yet he always seemed â€œprotectiveâ€ when our clients showed interest in me. Since I wasnâ€™t married this was somewhat cute and somewhat vexing. For example, if I was working with a good looking manâ€¦letâ€™s call him Pierceâ€¦ and sparks of harmless flirting were flying my husband-to-be would say something like, â€œWhat are your kids doing this weekend, Gail? Pierce, can you believe she has two teenagers? She just doesnâ€™t look her age.â€ Iâ€™d glare at him, Pierce would smile distractedly, and my to-be husband would grin ear to ear.
At any rate, on the occasion of this story he had returned from vacation and upon arriving at the office handed me an envelope. â€œI brought you a gift.â€ Surprised, I opened the envelope and found two small leaves. I had no idea what they were, or why heâ€™d brought them to me. â€œGee, you shouldnâ€™t have,â€ I said. I sorta wasn’t kidding.
Amused at my confusion he went on to say the leaves carried a folk tale. If a woman put the leaves beneath her pillow she would remain chaste. Still confused I said, â€œUmmmâ€¦and you thought I needed these?â€ â€œWell,â€ he said, â€œMaybe I need you to have them.â€ There was such tenderness in his eyes, and so much that wasnâ€™t spoken, that I melted. We started dating shortly afterwards. I framed the leaves and still have them. In case youâ€™re wondering, they didnâ€™t work. At least not for us. Weâ€™re thirteen years into a fabulous marriage.
Along the lines of those leaves there is a shrub called Vitex agnus-castus, or Chaste tree. The fruit is called Chasteberry, or sometimes monkâ€™s pepper. It is said monkâ€™sâ€”those who had taken a vow of celibacyâ€”would sprinkle Chasteberries on their food to stay, well, chaste.
When I was doing an internship with Jodi Baglien, the essential oil therapist, one of my missions was to find peer-reviewed research on Vitex oil. Let me just say it was tough going. There was a lot of anecdotal talk about the benefits of Vitex in regards to womenâ€™s health, but little scientific research. (At least research I had access to.)
I do know Jodiâ€™s oil blend, â€œWomenâ€™s Balanceâ€ did wonders for me when it came to my periods and menopausal symptoms. Iâ€™d rub a few drops on my groin area each morning and felt relief from cramps and other PMS indicators. I just felt good, for some reason.
As I was reading through the book Healthy At Home by Dr. Low Dog, I was pleased to see she had included a section on Chasteberry.
Dr. Low Dog was referring to the dried fruits made into a tincture– not the oil Jodi was using–but the reported benefits are similar to what I experienced with Jodiâ€™s blend. Dr. Low Dog cites studies showing women found symptom relief from PMS, as well as a normalization of their menstrual cycle. There was a reduction in mood swings, bloating, and breast tenderness.
And, although this was NOT my goal, there is strong indication Chasteberry can be beneficial in overcoming infertility as well. (I guess those monks were celibate, but virile!) Dr. Low Dog recommends working with a midwife or practitioner proficient in the use of herbs if a person wants to try Chasteberry for infertility issues. It is also important to note that, like many natural products, it takes time for an herb to provide the results sought. She recommends a window of at least three months of daily use before the hormones rebalance.
Iâ€™m well into my menopause so I donâ€™t use Jodi’s oil blend as often, but keep it on hand when an â€œambushâ€ period does arrive. (Usually on a day I decide to wear white pants or a skirt. Or, when my daughter comes for a visit. She has a way of synchronizing me to her cycle!) Chasteberry has worked for me, and I would not hesitate to suggest its use to other women as long as they work with a trained essential oil therapist or herbalist.