The health benefits of dong quai
Dong quai is one of those natural remedies whose use goes back thousands of years. For generation after generation, Asian societies have used dong quai as a tonic for the reproductive system of women. As a matter of fact, dong quai ranks right below ginseng as the most frequently used herb in Japan and China.
Where does dong quai come from?
Dong quai is obtained from the root of the perennial plant known as angelica sinensis in China and from the root of the A. acutiloba plant in Japan. Both species of plant feature eight foot hollow stems which are topped with umbrella shaped clusters of white flowers. The blossoms of both plants resemble its relative, Queen Anne’s lace. Modern European societies dong quai is being used for a variety of symptoms, both gynecological and non-gynecological in nature.
Some of the most common uses of dong quai, however, continue to be of a feminine nature, and it is thought that this herb helps promote uterine health and maintain regular menstrual cycles. Some research has suggested that the coumarins contained in dong quai are responsible for this effect. Coumarins dilate blood vessels, stimulate the nervous system and increase blood flow through the body. It is thought that coumarins may also relax the muscles of the uterus, which would help to explain the effectiveness of dong quai at soothing menstrual cramps.
In addition, dong quai is thought to help relieve PMS symptoms and irregular menstrual cycles. The reputation of dong quai as a female tonic is largely a result of its ability to reduce the symptoms of PMS and to regulate menstrual cycles. Many women have used dong quai to treat amenorrhea (missing or irregular menstrual cycles) and hemorrhagic (prolonged or heavy periods). It is thought that the antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory actions of the herb are responsible for these healing effects.
The benefits of dong quai
Dong quai is also thought to help reduce the pain associated with endometriosis, especially when used in combination with chasteberry. When used in combination with black cohosh, chasteberry and ginseng, dong quai appears to be helpful in controlling the hot flashes associated with menopause.
In addition to these health benefits, dong quai is also a rich source of vitamin B12, and as such it is thought to play a role in stimulating the production of red blood cells in the body. Using dong quai in combination with other herbs is thought to provide mild dilation of blood vessels, which may lead to increased blood flow and increased pumping action from the heart. For this reason, traditional Chinese doctors have long prescribed dong quai for circulation problems and high blood pressure.
Dong quai comes in a variety of different forms, including a tincture, tablets, capsules, soft gels and liquid. In addition, dong quai is available from many herbal medicine stores and health food stores in dried herb form, which can be used to make a soothing tea.
What to look for
When shopping for dong quai in soft gels, tablets, or capsules, it is important to choose those brands that have been standardized to contain a liguistilide concentration of between 0.8% and 1.1%.
The preparation that seems to be most effective for menstrual cramps and other menstrual problems is taking 200 mg dong quai pills three times a day, or taking 30 drops (1.5 ml) of liquid dong quai three times daily.