Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis)

Posted By on February 28, 2009

Dong Quai tea

Dong Quai tea

Dong Quai, which has been used in China, Korea and Japan for thousands of years, is known as the female ginseng due to its powerful effect on the female reproductive system. It also is a well known herbal tonic that helps with overall vitality and can be used both in female and male formulas.

As a woman’s herb it has been used for anemia, menstrual pain and irregularities, and premenstrual tension. Another translation of Dong quai is “return to order” and it is a key component of any woman’s regulation and comfort of her cycle from its beginning to its end. As women grow older the chances of hot flashes increase and there are reports indicating it to be a powerful aid in the alleviation of hot flashes. Dong Quai is a fantastic circulatory herb that dilates blood vessels and aides with cardiovascular health and circulation. The circulatory function also aides it in reducing cramping and pain.

I almost always recommend using Dong Quai in a tea or an extract form as it is the most available to the body in this form. However, there are many preparations in capsule and tablet form for those who are timid about strong herbal flavors. When using Dong Quai for women’s health it can be taken on a daily basis. I prefer an herbal extract or tea taken with other supportive herbs and nutrients for women’s health. If using Dong Quai for menstrual cramps it can be taken up to the period then the dose can be reduced during the bleeding. Because Dong Quai is a tonic it generally takes at least three menstrual cycles to notice a big difference.

It is also a very effective circulatory herb and in some studies has been found to be helpful for high blood pressure. It is best in combination with other cardiovascular nutrients and should be taken daily for this effect. It pairs well with Hawthorn for the heart and general circulatory support.

Traditionally Dong Quai was extracted in wine as it was thought that this would intensify its effect. Today with our knowledge of the antioxidants in red wine, we know this is a great combination and an earthy, herby tasting drink.

Dong Quai has been used traditionally as part of a Chinese herbal formula known as the Four Substances (along with Peony, Ligustici and Rhemaniae). This formula has been used for thousands of years for building blood and promoting vitality. In western herbal medicine you often see it combined with Evening Primrose and Cramp Bark for female balance and the reduction of pain. For perimenopausal symptoms look for it with Black Cohosh to reduce hot flash symptoms.

Dong Quai has a blood thinning effect so it needs to be monitored by your health care practitioner if you are taking blood thinners or have issues with bleeding. As with all supplements it is always important to check with your health care provider to determine if a nutrient is ideal and appropriate for you and your condition. This is not an appropriate herb for pregnancy or during heavy menstruation.

Energetics; warming, bitter, spicy

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