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Dong Quai - Uses and Benefits

Other Names: Dang Gui and Tang Kuei
Scientific Name: Angelica Sinensis

Plant Description

The term "dong quai" (a Chinese name that is sometimes transliterated tang-kuei or dang-gui) refers to a plant known either as A. polymorpha var. sinensis or simply as A. sinensis. As the name suggests, this member of the celery family comes out of the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia. In its native country, China, Dong Quai is the next best selling herb to Licorice, where millions of women are reputed to take it every day as an invigorating and blood purifying tonic. The term 'female ginseng' is often used by herbalists when referring to Dong Quai and its tonifying properties.

Dong Quai , a hormonal tonic, has a wide variety of positive effects upon the female body. It has been used for centuries by many Asian healers to balance female hormones and to prevent the troublesome symptoms of menopause and PMS. One of its most important aid is its ability to help with menstrual disorders that certainly include cramps, backaches, hot flashes and other menopausal conditions. The 'Queen of the Herbs' aids in internal injuries and bruises, lubricates the intestine and strengthens the internal organs and muscles-especially those muscles connected with the birth canal.

Uses and Benefits of Dong Quai

Dong Quai has been one of the favorite female herb in China for over a thousand years and has made great inroads in Europe and the United States. It is acclaimed to be effective against many types of female problems. Dong Quai is also an aid in general circulation. It helps in dissolving blood clots, rebuilding of the blood, strengthening the female organs and great for those planning pregnancy.

Some of the main Uses of Dong Quai are:

  • Dong quai has a mildly laxative effect.
  • Dong Quai is very useful in relieving constipation, increase red blood cell count (which helps treat anemia), and to provide relief from menstrual disorders such as cramps, irregular menstrual cycles, infrequent periods, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and menopausal symptoms.
  • At least one of the constituents can stimulate the brain, improving alertness.
  • Also helpful in treating abnormal heart rhythm, prevent accumulation of platelets in blood vessels (contributing to plaque formation or atherosclerosis), protect the liver, promote urination, act as a mild laxative, promote sleep, and fight infection.
  • Nerve debility (panic attacks, general nervousness)
  • Also helpful in treating patients suffering from anemia.
  • Dizziness.
  • Blurred vision.

Dosage for Dong Quai

The daily dose of dong quai prescribed by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine is usually 4-15 g, administered as the whole root or root slices. Dong quai is traditionally used in combination with many other herbs, often prepared in teas, soups, or other dishes, but commercial products are also available in a variety of powdered root or extract formulations. North American consumers can purchase dong quai as a single or combination herbal preparation that contains about 100-500 mg of root or root extract per dosage form, with a wide variety of recommended dosing regimens.

Side Effects of Dong Quai

Stop taking dong quai and seek emergency medical attention or notify your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following rare, but possibly serious, side effects:

  • Dong quai may cause some fair-skinned people to become more sensitive to sunlight. People taking dong quai should avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight or other sources of ultraviolet radiation.
  • Dong quai is not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women.
  • The one I'm most concerned with is the tendency to increase bleeding. For women who normally have heavy menstrual periods Dong Quai and Angelica can make bleeding even heavier.
  • Symptoms of toxicity have been reported when dosage is too high.
  • Other noted side effects for Angelica include, peeing a lot, irritation, allergic reaction.
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • Changes in skin color or moles.

Drug Interactions

Certain medicines may interact with dong quai. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

Caution

  • If you take blood thinning agents like asprin or other pharmaceutics, do not use Angelica or Dong Quai, as these have the tendency to increase bleeding.
  • Dong quai may contain estrogen-like compounds and should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with breast cancer.
  • Dong quai should not be used by people with bleeding disorders, excessive menstrual bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, or during infections such as colds and flu. Call your health practitioner if you experience bleeding, unusual bruising, diarrhea, or fever.
  • Do not take dong quai without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. It is not known whether dong quai will harm a nursing infant.
  • Avoid excessive or prolonged exposure to sunlight while taking dong quai. Dong quai may increase the sensitivity of your skin to sunlight. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing if sun exposure is unavoidable.

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