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Information about the herb Dong Quai

Angelica sinensis, also known as Chinese Angelica is part of the Umbelliferae plant family. Dong quai is an aromatic herb that grows in China, Korea, and Japan. The plant is often found growing in damp mountain ravines, meadows, river banks and coastal areas.


General Information

Botanical Name:Angelica sinensis, Angelica polymorpha (Dong quai should not be confused with Angelica root or Angelica seed)

Plant Family:Umbelliferae, Apiaceae

Common Name: Bai zhi, Chinese Angelica, Dang gui, Dong Qua, Dong quai, Tan kue, Tang kuei, Tang kwei

History: Dong quai has been used for over a thousand years as a spice, tonic, and medicine in China, Korea and Japan.

Tradition: Dong Quai is sometimes referred to as the female Ginseng

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Plant Constituents of Dong Quai

Contains:

  • angelicide(coumarin content in Dong Quai does not promote phototoxic, carcinogenic or mutagenic effects) but exerts antispasmodic and vasodilatory effects
  • B-sitosterol
  • butyl phthalide,
  • cadiene
  • calcium channel-blocking compounds (which relax visceral organ muscle)
  • carvacrolx
  • coumarins (at least six coumarin derivatives) including:
  • angelol
  • angelicone
  • essential oils, consisting mainly of
    Ligustilide
  • N-butylidenphthalide
  • ferulic acid
  • flavonoids
  • fixed oil
  • furanocoumarins
  • nicotinic acid
  • phytosterols
  • polysaccharides
  • stigmasterol
  • vitamins E, A and B12

Action:

  • acrid
  • anti-anemic
  • anti-arryhthmic
  • anti-inflammatory [an agent to ease inflammation]
  • anti-platelet
  • antispasmodic [an agent which relieves or eases muscular spasms, cramps or convulsions]
  • blood builder
  • blood stimulant
  • blood tonic [an agent that tones, strengthens and invigorates organs or the entire organism giving a feeling of well-being]
  • female tonic
  • hormonal regulator and menstruation corrective
  • laxative (mild)
  • sedative [a soothing agent that reduces nervousness, distress or irritation] mild effect
  • uterine tonic (powerful) [an agent that tones, strengthens and invigorates organs or the entire organism giving a feeling of well-being]
  • sweet
  • warm

Different parts of the Root have different properties:

  • the head - tonic
  • tail - moves the blood strongly

Usually the whole root is prescribed due to the expense of obtaining individual preparations.

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Usage of Dong Quai

Medicinal Parts Used:Whole root. Found in tea, herbal preparations, tablets or capsules

Dong Quai is used for:

Blood Conditions

  • aids in regulating blood sugar
  • anemia (increases red blood cell count)
  • blood purifier and general blood tonic for both men and women
  • blood stasis
  • decreases blood viscosity
  • helps prevent iron deficiency and anemia
  • improve bloods circulation
  • inhibits platelet aggregation (due to Ferulic acid)
  • internal bleeding or bruising
  • promotes formation of red blood cells
  • reduces blood clotting
  • reduces thrombosis (works differently to Warfarin, possibly by inhibiting Thromboxane or decreasing fibrogen levels)
  • relaxes peripheral blood vessels

Brain and Nervous System Conditions

  • insomnia
  • prevents spasms
  • relieves stress and calms the nerves
  • stimulates the central nervous system

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • cardiac arryhthmia
  • cardiovascular disorders (with Dan Shen)
  • dilates blood vesselsheart disease (decreased symptoms of chest pain and improved exercise tolerance) when used in combination with Panax Ginseng and Astragalus
  • increases blood flow without affecting heart rate
  • lowers blood pressure
  • lowers vascular resistance
  • palpitations (with Dan Shen)
  • promotes blood circulation
  • reduces pulmonary hypertension
  • strengthens the heart
  • stroke (decreases the amount of brain damage following a stroke)

Female Conditions (often combined with Paeonia)

  • amenorrhea
  • balances and treats many female systems and cycles
  • controls dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
  • endometriosis
  • female tonic
  • helps combat premenstrual tension
  • helps women resume normal menstruation after using birth control pills
  • improves fetal nourishment during pregnancy
  • infertility
  • infrequent periods
  • irregular menstruation (regulates the menstrual cycle)
  • menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes
  • menstrual cramps
  • menorrhagia (excessive loss of blood during a period)
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS), especially when combined with Black Cohosh
  • powerful herb for the female reproductive system
  • produces a balancing effect on estrogen activity
  • reduces spontaneous uterine contractions
  • regulates uterine contractions
  • regulates uterine function
  • stimulates as well as relaxes uterine muscles
  • stimulates the uterus during childbirth
  • strengthens internal reproductive organs
  • uterine bleeding
  • uterine cramping
  • weakness and headaches associated with menstrual disorders

and for menopausal symptoms

  • hot flushes (especially in combination with other herbs)
  • vaginal dryness

Gastrointestinal Conditions

  • alleviates constipation

Genitourinary Conditions

  • strengthens the kidneys

Immune System Conditions

  • hematological immunolgical problems (combined with Astragalus)

Liver Conditions

  • chronic liver disorders (usually in combination with other herbs)
  • strengthens the liver

Respiratory Tract Conditions

  • asthma
  • bronchitis

Skeletal and/or Muscular Conditions

  • neuralgia
  • muscular-skeletal injuries

Other Conditions

  • migraine headaches
  • reduces pain
  • strengthens the spleen

Dosage:

  • 2-6g/day dried root (Women may take 3–4 grams daily in three divided applications)
  • 4-12mL/day 1:2 fluid extract (usual dosage 3–5mL of extract taken three times per day)

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Precautions

Caution:

Dong Quai should not be used:

  • during first trimester of pregnancy because it may affect the muscular functioning of the uterus (however in traditional Chinese medicine Dong Quai is used routinely to calm the fetus and nowhere is it contraindicated)
  • during breast-feeding
  • with a tendency to spontaneous abortion
  • with a bleeding tendency
  • for women with very heavy periods
  • when suffering from abdominal bloating
  • when suffering from chronic diarrhea
  • when suffering from a cold or flu
  • with acute viral infections such as colds or influenza
  • with increased menstrual flow or hemorrhagic disease

High doses of Dong Quai can cause some fair-skinned people to become more sensitive to sunlight causing:

  • rashes
  • skin inflammation

People using it on a regular basis should limit prolonged exposure to the sun or other sources of ultraviolet radiation or use sunscreen while taking the herb.

Drug Interactions:

Do not use Dong Quai without first talking to your practitioner or healthcare provider if you taking any of the following medications:

Blood Thinning Agents such as

  • Warfarin (Dong quai can increase the potency)

Blood-thinning herbs

Although extremely uncommon, combining Dong quai with other herbs that thin the blood may possibly increase the risk of bleeding in some people.

Herbs that should be used only under strict supervision when combined with Dong quai include:

Hormone medications

  • Estrogens
  • Progesterones
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Tamoxifen
  • Faloxifene

Herbs or Medications causing Sun Sensitivity

  • St. John's Wort can cause sun sensitivity so it should not be used with Dong quai which can cause the same reaction

Other Medications

  • Heparin
  • Ticlopidine

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Products

Global Herbal Supplies has Dong Quai available in the following forms:


Research


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Information given by our website is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by a physician or other medical professionals. You should not use the information given for diagnosing a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. The above information is just a guide to general circumstances and in no way should it contradict the advice that you have been given by your naturopath, medical doctor or specialist.

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