Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) and also known variously as Angelica polymorpha, tang-kuei, dang-gui, Female Ginseng and Chinese Angelica grows all over China, Korea, and Japan. It grows in the cool high altitude of the mountainous regions of these countries. The yellowish brown root of the plant is harvested in Autumn.
Traditional Uses for Dong Quai:-
It is used for almost every gynecological complaint from regulating the menstrual cycle to treating menopausal symptoms caused by hormonal changes
The herb is frequently used by the Chinese as a strengthening treatment for the heart, spleen, liver and kidneys. Both men and women use the herb as a general blood tonic.
Constituents of Dong Quai:-
It contains vitamins E, A and B12. Researchers have isolated at least six coumarin derivatives that exert antispasmodic and vasodilatory effects. Antispasmodics are a remedy for menstrual cramps. The essential oil in dong quai contains Ligustilide, butylphthalide and numerous other minor components. Ferulic acid and various polysaccharides are also found in Dong Quai’s root. These elements can prevent spasms, reduce blood clotting and relax peripheral blood vessels. Research has shown that Dong Quai produces a balancing effect on oestrogen activity.
Women who are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant should not use Dong Quai because it may induce a miscarriage.
It should be taken with caution with herbs or supplements that may slow blood clotting such as Gingko Biloba, Garlic and Ginger to reduce the possible risk of bleeding and bruising. Warfarin users should avoid its use also.
Taking this herb can cause skin to become extra sensitive to the sun, leading to a greater risk for skin cancer. One case of gynaecomastia has been reported following consumption of the root powder in pill form. Large and prolonged doses of the plant is not advised as it contains compounds that are considered carcinogenic.