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Herbal Monograph: Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)

Common Names:

  • Dong Quai

  • Dang Gui

  • Chinese Angelica

  • Female Ginseng

Botanical Name:

  • Angelica sinensis

Family:

  • Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)

Overview: Dong Quai, scientifically known as Angelica sinensis, is a widely recognized and revered herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other traditional healing systems. It is often referred to as "female ginseng" due to its primary historical use in women's health. Dong Quai has a rich history of use dating back over 1,200 years in traditional Chinese medicine and is prized for its potential benefits in promoting women's reproductive health, alleviating menstrual discomfort, and addressing various other health concerns.




Botanical Description:

  • Plant: Dong Quai is a perennial herbaceous plant that can grow up to three to four feet in height. It features hollow stems, fern-like leaves, and produces clusters of small white to pale green flowers.

  • Root: The medicinal part of the plant is the thick, aromatic, and gnarled root, which has a characteristic sweet, earthy aroma.

  • Flowers: The small flowers are arranged in umbels, similar to other plants in the Apiaceae family.

Traditional Uses: Dong Quai has been traditionally used for a variety of purposes, including:

  1. Women's Health: It is highly esteemed for its potential to balance and regulate the female reproductive system. It is often used to alleviate menstrual discomfort, irregular periods, and menopausal symptoms.

  2. Blood Tonic: Dong Quai is believed to nourish the blood, potentially helping to improve circulation and address conditions associated with blood deficiency.

  3. Pain Relief: It has been used to reduce various types of pain, including headaches, joint pain, and muscle pain.

  4. Immune Support: Dong Quai may have immune-boosting properties, aiding the body in its natural defense mechanisms.

  5. Digestive Health: Some traditional uses include promoting healthy digestion and addressing digestive discomfort.

Active Constituents: Dong Quai contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including:

  • Phytoestrogens: Dong Quai is known for its phytoestrogenic compounds, which may help modulate estrogen activity in the body.

  • Coumarins: These compounds are believed to contribute to the herb's potential blood-thinning properties.

  • Polysaccharides: Dong Quai contains polysaccharides that may have immunomodulatory effects.

Preparation and Usage: Dong Quai can be prepared and used in several ways, including:

  • Dried Root: The dried root can be used to make herbal teas or tinctures by steeping 1-2 teaspoons of dried root in hot water for 10-15 minutes.

  • Capsules or Tablets: Dong Quai supplements are available in capsule or tablet form, offering a convenient way to incorporate it into your daily routine.




Precautions and Considerations:

  • Consult a healthcare professional before using Dong Quai, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or have underlying health conditions.

  • Dong Quai may increase the risk of bleeding, so individuals on anticoagulant medications should use caution.

  • Long-term or excessive use of Dong Quai should be avoided.

Dong Quai is a cherished herb with a rich history of use in traditional healing systems, particularly for women's health and overall well-being. As with any herbal remedy, it's advisable to seek guidance from a qualified healthcare practitioner for personalized advice, especially if you have specific health concerns or are taking medications.

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About

The herbalist, chemist, and medicine maker at Asili Apothecary, Gloria created this space to facilitate healing and learning for yourself and those around you. The apothecary and homestead is based in Fayetteville, NC. Gloria enjoys time with her family and Mother Nature.

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