Angelica sinensis

Description

Dong quai, also called Chinese angelica, is indigenous to Asia and should not be confused with the European Angelica archangelica, which is used to flavour confectionery and liqueurs. Angelica sinensis) is cultivated in China for medicinal purposes, and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners usually recommend it with other herbs to treat women’s health issues such as painful and irregular periods, cramps, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms. Modern science confirms that dong quai treats inflammation, eases pain and helps muscles relax. Cells studies suggest that the herb also has an oestrogenic effect.

Parts used

The thick-branched roots are used to make medicine.

Constituents

Dong quai contains compounds called coumarins, which increase blood flow to the uterus and other organs, dilate blood vessels and stimulate the central nervous system. Coumarins also have antifungal, hypotensive, anticoagulant and antimicrobial properties. Vitamin B12 is also present.

Medicinal uses

Dong quai is commonly used to treat health conditions in women – to relieve the symptoms of menopause, PMS, period cramps, anaemia caused by menstruation and fatigue or low energy. Dong quai is used in both men and women for heart conditions, to lower blood pressure and ease inflammation, headache, infections and nerve pain. The World Health Organization Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants Volume 2 describes Angelica sinensis as an ingredient for ‘Treatment of menstrual disorders such as irregular menstruation, amenorrhoea and dysmenorrhea; as an analgesic for symptomatic treatment of rheumatic arthralgia (joint pain), abdominal pain and in the management of postoperative pain’. More clinical data is needed to support its reputation. Clove is prescribed to:

Dong Quai is prescribed to:

  • Alleviate PMS.
  • Regulate menstrual cycles.
  • Ease the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness.
  • Relieve chronic muscle pain and cramps.
  • Support blood circulation.
  • Relieve pain caused by rheumatism.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Dong quai, particularly in high doses, may make you more sensitive to sunlight and cause skin inflammation and rashes. Stay out of the sun or use high-SPF sunscreen while taking it. Do not use dong quai during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Do not administer to children. Dong quai may interact with blood-thinning or platelet-inhibiting drugs. Always consult your healthcare practitioner before embarking on a course of natural remedies.

Flora Force Products containing Dong Quai

Domestic & culinary uses

Dong quai belongs to the same plant family as parsley, celery, carrots and poison hemlock, and is cultivated throughout the world for medicinal purposes. Although dong quai is used in Asia to enrich soups for the sick, it is not generally used in cuisine elsewhere.

Cultivation

Dong quai is a fragrant perennial plant that grows at high altitudes in the cold, damp mountains of the Far East. It has smooth purplish stems and umbrella-shaped clusters of white flowers in summer. Plant dong quai in moist, fertile soil in dappled shade. The plant takes three years to reach maturity.

Acknowledgements & credits

Compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer

References

  1. Carroll DG. Nonhormonal therapies for hot flashes in menopause. Am Fam Physician. 2006; 73(3):457–64.
  2. Kupfersztain C, Rotem C, Fagot R, Kaplan B. The immediate effect of natural plant extract, Angelica sinensis and Matricaria chamomilla (Climex) for the treatment of hot flushes during menopause. A preliminary report. Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol. 2003; 30(4):203–6.
  3. Monograph Angelica sinensis, Alternative Medicine Review, Vol. 9, Number 4, 2004.
  4. World Health Organization Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Vol. 2.

Photos

Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.