Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)
Also known as Angelica, dong quai is native to China and has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Sometimes called the "female ginseng" it is used mostly for women's gynecological problems.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Dong quai is most commonly used to treat menstrual complaints like pain and scanty menstruation. It is also proven effective for premenstrual syndrome, cramping and irregular periods. It has an anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effect on the uterus. It also relieves pain and relaxes muscles. Studies have shown that the herb actually has a very unusual effect. Before relaxing the uterus, it stimulates it, so the overall tone is improved and it contracts easier.
Besides working on the uterus, dong quai may also relax the muscles of the heart, lower blood pressure and calm cardiac arrhythmias. There are also studies that show the herbal remedy effective for allergies and respiratory problems. It is also used for headache, infections, arthritis, kidney disease, menopausal symptoms and nerve pain. It is high in iron, and is useful in treating anemia and to nourish the blood of both sexes. This herb has a mild sedative effect to relieve stress. Some people use it during birth to stimulate the uterus.
Externally Not used externally
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Chinese medicine normally uses combinations of herbs, and this one is no different. It is often combined with whatever herbs the herbalist chooses to treat individual symptoms of specific ailments.
Root, seeds, stems The root is the portion of the plant to be used medicinally, although the leaves, seeds and stems may be used as seasoning or confections.
Sometimes dong quai makes monthly bleeding heavier, since it dilates blood vessels and improves the circulation to the uterus. It may be recommended to stop taking this herbal remedy during menstrual bleeding to control the flow. Do not take if you take medications for high blood pressure or to thin the blood. It should be avoided during pregnancy. Some people may find themselves sensitive to sunlight when taking this herb.
Preparation and Dosage
Dong quai is found commercially as a tincture or powdered and encapsulated. For cramping, 1 teaspoon of tincture can be taken twice a day beginning the day after monthly bleeding ends. Stop the tincture as soon as you begin to spot or show menstrual bleeding. If you have very light menstrual flow, take 1 teaspoon of tincture every 2 hours during the period to relieve cramping. Be prepared for heavier bleeding during that cycle.