Botanical: Angelica sinensis
Family: Apiaceae (parsley)
Other common names: Tang-kuei, Dang Gui, Chinese Angelica Root, Woman's Herb
Dong Quai (or "Female Ginseng," as it is sometimes called) is an age-old, natural way to support a woman's health and reproductive system. It is thought to relieve the discomforts of menopause (hot flashes and vaginal dryness) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and it has been used to regulate monthly cycles in women after giving birth or when ending the use of birth control pills. As a blood purifier, Dong Quai helps to promote better blood circulation throughout the body and to the brain; and improved circulation may help to relieve tinnitus, blurred vision, palpitations and migraine headaches.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Dong Quai is the dried and sliced root of Chinese Angelica, a sturdy perennial plant that is native to China and Japan, and when cultivated, may reach a height of up to six feet, bearing bright green leaves and clusters of white flowers. Both the Chinese species (Angelica sinensis) and Japanese species (Angelica acutiloba) have have very similar therapeutic effects, although each country claims to produce the superior Dong Quai. In Asia, the plant has been cultivated for thousands of years for medicinal purposes and was first recorded in 588 B.C., for the treatment of painful menstruation. Often referred to as the Female Ginseng, it has been used to treat a wide variety of disorders, particularly "female" disorders, and in the Orient, Dong Quai is second only in reputation and sales to ginseng and licorice root. Chinese and Japanese herbalists have also used Dong Quai for the prevention and treatment of allergic symptoms in individuals who are sensitive to a variety of substances, such as pollen, dust, animal dander, foods, etc. Chemical constituents of Dong Quai include coumarins, essential oils, vitamins B-1, B-2, B-5 and vitamin C, beta-carotene, acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, phosphorus, potassium selenium, flavonoids and phytoestrogens (characterized by both high and low estrogen levels, which may account for much of the plant's use to regulate competing actions).
Dong Quai is famous as an overall tonic for the reproductive system that assists the body in using and balancing hormones and has been used to relieve the discomforts of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), menorrhagia (abnormal menstruation), and may help in cases of infertility. After the delivery of a child, women have considered Dong Quai a post-partum tonic that helps to regulate the menses and build the blood. It is also thought to re-establish and regulate menstrual cycles after withdrawal from birth control pills.
As a uterine tonic, it promotes an increase in contractions followed by a prolonged relaxation.
In helping to balance female hormones, Dong Quai is believed to to be effective for the specific relief of menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood swings.
As a support for healthy blood and cardiovascular function, both men and women use Dong Quai as a tonic to cleanse and purify the blood, promoting better blood circulation and helping to improve brain stimulation and alertness. Dong Quai is said to possess significant blood pressure-lowering action, due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, and it is also reported to possess calcium channel blockers, which help a wide variety of cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension, arteriosclerosis and angina. By inhibiting platelet aggregation, Dong Quai increases blood flow to the heart, brain and extremities, and the compounds in Dong Quai appear to impede blood clotting, improving overall circulation, thereby helping to guard against stroke and heart attack. This improved circulation may also relieve tinnitus, blurred vision, palpitations and migraine headaches. Better blood circulation is thought to relieve the pain of traumatic injuries and improve a variety of skin conditions, including psoriasis and vitiligo.
Dong Quai is considered an antispasmodic. Some of its chemical agents, known as coumarins, may act to dilate the blood vessels and also relax the smooth muscles of the intestines and uterus, confirming its historical use in the treatment of intestinal spasms and uterine cramps. Action upon the vascular smooth muscle could also explain its hypotensive results, and action upon the bronchial smooth muscle could explain why it eases the discomforts of asthma.
Dong Quai is said to support improved immune function. The coumarin compounds have demonstrated immune-enhancing activity in both healthy and ill patients. The compounds seem to stimulate white blood cells and increase their ability to destroy foreign particles and invasive infection. Macrophages are said to be "activated," and they are the immune cells that surround and digest foreign materials and harmful cellular debris in the body.
Dong Quai has alleviated sleeplessness in both sexes. Studies claim that it is a tranquilizer and will calm the nerves. It is also said to have pain relieving effects; and its analgesic activity, combined with its smooth-muscle relaxing properties, support its historical use in easing the discomforts in conditions such as trauma, arthritis, abdominal pain, cramps and headaches.
Dong Quai is a mild diuretic and laxative, and as a bowel lubricant, it helps with constipation.
In regard to eye disorders, Dong Quai contains flavonoid compounds that are said to keep microscopic blood vessels in the eye from leaking and causing swelling in the retina, and they are also thought to impede the formation of microscopic blood clots that might impede circulation in the eye.
Antibacterial activity is attributed to Dong Quai, and it has shown some antibiotic effects against several bacteria, such as E-coli, Strep and Shigella, in laboratory studies.
Dong Quai Herbal Supplement should not be used by pregnant or nursing women nor by women with a typically heavy menstrual flow. It is not recommended for diabetics, those who are taking anticoagulants (Coumadin, aspirin, etc.) or people who are using medication for high blood pressure. Dong Quai may increase photosensitivity in sunlight. People using it on a regular basis should limit prolonged exposure to the sun or other sources of ultraviolet radiation. Do not use Dong Quai if you have diarrhea from weak digestion, a bleeding disorder, have had a miscarriage or have a cold or the flu.