A 2000-year-old Chinese herb called dong quai or Angelica Sinensis has recently gained popularity and for good reasons.

Also known as female ginseng, dong quai is one of the most used traditional Chinese medicinal herbs in China, South Korea and Japan. Other names for dong quai are dang qui, tang kui, Chinese angelica root and Radix Angelica Sinensis.

Dong quai is a plant from the same family as parsley and celery. It mostly grows in cold and damp areas and has beautiful purple stems and white flowers. Once the plant reaches maturity, the brown-yellow roots are harvested and further utilized for medicinal purposes in the form of tablets and powder.

Chinese herb and female health

The herb offers several benefits. (Photo via Instagram/katiebarronnaturopath)
The herb offers several benefits. (Photo via Instagram/katiebarronnaturopath)

The traditional Chinese herb is considered a holy grail ingredient for females, as it's believed to be beneficial in several conditions, including menstrual cycle, menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Additionally, dong quai is used for other conditions as well, including heart health, bone health and digestive health, among others.

Read on as we discuss some interesting facts about this incredible Chinese herb, including its correct usage and why it's considered beneficial for female health.

Benefits of dong quai for females

From easing period cramps to supporting menopause, this Chinese herb does it all when it comes to supporting female health. Take a look at a few of the most notable benefits of dong quai:

Balances hormones

Dong quai helps balance hormones in women. (Photo via Instagram/kingsseedsnz)
Dong quai helps balance hormones in women. (Photo via Instagram/kingsseedsnz)

Dong quai is used to balance women’s hormone levels by stabilizing the production of estrogen in the body.

It may also alleviate painful and uncomfortable symptoms of menopause and menstrual cycle, including mood swings, cramps, night sweats, migraines and hot flashes.

Eases menstrual cramps

Dong quai is considered a soothing ingredient to get relief from menstrual cramps and pain.

A component found in the herb, called ligustilide, is known to help enhance antispasmodic activity in the uterus, which helps ease down cramps. A study has also shown that women who took a dose of dong quai twice daily experienced an improvement in their cramps.

Promotes blood production

The Chinese herb is also used to increase blood production in the body. Women may find it beneficial post delivering their baby, as the herb may enrich the blood, fight fatigue and also speed up recovery from childbirth.

Promotes heart health

It promotes heart health. (Photo via Pexels/lil artsy)
It promotes heart health. (Photo via Pexels/lil artsy)

Dong quai is believed to promote heart health and is mostly recommended with other herbs like ginseng and astragalus for cardioprotective properties.

Both women and men can benefit from dong quai to help support their cardiovascular health, as the Chinese herb is known to increase production of red blood cells.

Dong quai is also popular among women, specifically who have conditions like blurry vision, dull and dry skin and weak nails. Additionally, this Chinese herb can also be beneficial for conditions like:

  • infections
  • headaches and migraines
  • high blood pressure
  • heart problems
  • inflammation
  • kidney or liver problems
  • nerve pain

How to use dong quai?

As it’s a versatile herb, it can be used in different ways, including raw, granules or dried herbs, injections, tablets and pills.

When it comes to the right dosage of dong quai, it usually depends on the form and your individual needs.

Are there any side effects of dong quai?

Dong quai is unsafe for pregnant women. (Photo via Pexels/Daniel Reche)
Dong quai is unsafe for pregnant women. (Photo via Pexels/Daniel Reche)

The American Pregnancy Association considers this Chinese herb unsafe for pregnant women, as it stimulates the uterus muscles, which can result in a miscarriage. Because it also has sedatives, it's not recommended during breastfeeding.

Some other confirmed side effects of dong quai include:

  • drowsiness
  • fluctuations in blood pressure
  • difficulty breathing
  • low blood sugar
  • bleeding risk
  • fever and headaches
  • sweating
  • stomach problems
  • vision loss

Dong quai can also interact with certain medications, including birth control pills, blood thinners, topical tretinoin, ibuprofen, hormone replacement therapy medicines.

While research suggests that there may be connections between this Chinese herb and its benefits, there aren’t many trials to suggest a solid conclusion. Therefore, it's best to consult a doctor before taking it as they can monitor your health concerns and tell you whether it's safe or not.

Avoid the Chinese herb if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to conceive or taking other medications.

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