Sometimes called ‘female ginseng’, but more commonly known as dong quai, Chinese angelica (Angelica sinensis) is a herb that grows in cooler high altitude regions in parts of Asia. It belongs to the same family as carrots and celery and its roots are what’s used as a herbal medicine.
What is dong quai used for?
Dong quai has a pronounced effect on hormones and so is used to treat menopause symptoms, dysmenorrhea (lack of periods) and premenstrual syndrome. It also seems to have beneficial effects on inflammation, reducing it, and the immune system, boosting it.
What’s the history of dong quai?
As a traditional Chinese medicine, dong quai has been used for more than 2,000 years to treat various women’s hormonal-related disorders, along with improving blood circulation and relieve pain. It’s also been used to treat constipation. When used in Chinese medicine different parts of the root are used for different ailments.
What’s the best way to take dong quai?
You might find dong quai listed in ingredients in a supplement, or as a liquid extract or dried liquid extract (in tablets).
Does dong quai really work?
It does seem to have a significant effect on hormone production. More than 70 compounds have been isolated from dong quai that may have an impact on our health. One of the most studied is trans-ferulic acid which works as an anti-inflammatory and immune system stimulant. Taking dong quai may therefore have an impact on inflammation, decrease blood clotting and adjust hormonal production. While there do seem to be some significant effects when taking dong quai, there is no strong evidence that it helps with symptoms of menopause, however. This may be the result of a lack of large-scale clinical trials or it may be that the supplement simply doesn’t have a powerful effect.
Where can I get dong quai?
Dong quai supplements are available online or at natural health shops.
How long does dong quai take to work?
According to anecdotal reports, effects will not be noticeable until two months after taking dong quai.
What are the side effects of taking dong quai?
Reports of side effects include skin sensitivity (to light), bleeding because of the blood-thinning effect, high blood pressure, diarrhoea and/or fever. Breast development in men has also been reported.
Are there any contraindications when taking dong quai?
Yes, see your GP before taking dong quai if you’re taking any kind of anticoagulant or other blood-thinning medication. If you are having treatment for a hormone-related cancer it’s also important to avoid dong quai as it does have an impact on hormones. If you are undergoing radiation therapy you should also avoid it as it may worsen the damage caused by radiation on the skin.
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