Dong quai is a plant used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. It’s known as “female ginseng” for its proven ability to improve female health including balancing hormones, treating reproductive problems, regulating menstrual cycles and possibly preventing and treating symptoms from certain forms of cancer.1,2
Dong quai is a member of the Angelica botanical species that includes carrots, celery, dill and parsley. Dong quai is grown in cool, high mountainous areas of China, Japan and Korea. There are three subspecies of dong quai available on the market. “Angelica acutiloba” and “angelica gigas” have nutritional qualities but only the true dong quai subspecies “angelica sinensis” has medicinal value. The subspecies are not interchangeable if used for health reasons.1,3
Dong quai is a perennial plant that produces flowers and fruits, however only the dong quai root is used for medicine. Dong quai is widely available in specialty health stores and through Chinese medicine suppliers. Dong quai root is commonly offered in powder, capsule, tablet and tinctures. In Japan and China, dong quai is sometimes injected into the bloodstream.3,4
Dong Quai Health Uses and Health Benefits
The primary active ingredients in dong quai include ferulic acid, various polysaccharides and more than 70 chemical compounds that positively affect the human body.
Dong quai health benefits are primarily successful in treating female conditions caused by estrogen abnormalities. Dong quai uses include medicinal relief for menstruation issues such as menstrual cramps. Dong quai for menopause and menopausal side-effects, premenstrual symptoms and perimenopause discomfort are also common dong quai uses.1,3
Dong quai health benefits also include treatment for certain cancers and relief of cancer symptoms. Antioxidant chemical compounds in dong quai help to eliminate free radicals and improve the immune system, thereby killing and controlling cancer cells.2
Traditional medicine also recognizes dong quai health benefits for purifying and thinning blood, managing hypertension, improving blood circulation and detoxifying the body.1,2
Common dong quai uses include treatment for:
Dong Quai Side Effects and Precautions
Dong quai side effects are limited and it is generally safe when taken orally in limited amounts. Applied topically, dong quai increases skin sensitivity to sunlight and may cause sunburn.1
Because dong quai has strong similarities to estrogen, large doses may produce dong quai side effects that contribute to hormone-sensitive conditions that are worsened by excessive estrogen. This includes breast, uterine and ovarian cancer as well as endometriosis and uterine fibroids.4
Dong quai also acts as a blood thinner and may prevent clotting. People undergoing surgery or taking blood-thinning medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, clopidogrel, naproxen, and warfarin should avoid beware of possible dong quai side effects.4
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