Dong Quai: Uterine Tonic and Fertility Herb….

Dong Quai: Uterine Tonic and Fertility Herb….

Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) is one of the most powerful female fertility tonic herbs. Used since at least the first century, Dong Quai tonifies and strengthens the uterus by regulating hormonal control, improving uterine tone, and improving the timing of the menstrual cycle. In Asia, Dong Quai is to women’s health as ginseng is to men’s health.

In traditional Chinese medicine Dong Quai is referred to as a blood tonic as it has a general effect on circulation. This could be helpful for women experiencing pale menstrual flow, absent periods, and weakness after periods (in TCM this is called blood deficient). It has also been shown to improve red blood cell counts. Dong quai is traditionally used for situations of stagnation (PCOS, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and uterine fibroids) as it increases the blood flow to the reproductive system, reducing congestion and pain.

Dong Quai may be helpful for:

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Delayed or absent menstruation
  • Short periods with cramping
  • Strengthening a “weakened uterus”
  • Cramping and PMS during your period.
  • Women who have stopped taking birth control pills and need to encourage a regular cycle
  • Light or slow starting menstruation
  • Stagnant conditions

How Dong Quai Works

Dong quai is an herb used in TCM to help increase circulation to the reproductive system and nourish the blood.

Dong Quai works by promoting blood flow to the pelvis where it will stimulate an absent or scanty period. It also nourishes the blood (it is in nearly all Chinese herbal blood-building formulas) and helps iron deficiency and anemia. Dong Quai is really effective in helping women who are not menstruating to invite their menstruation back. The increased circulation also helps to strengthen and balance the uterus. In rat studies it has been shown to help build the uterus lining.

Dong Quai also has a relaxing effect on both the uterus and the nervous system. This can be helpful in situations such as PMS and cramping during your period. Its relaxing effects are just as powerful as other well known herbs used for relaxation such as – lavender, chamomile, or valerian root.

How to Use Dong Quai

We find that Dong Quai is best taken as a liquid extract (tincture). The daily suggested use of Dong Quai is 30 drops, 2 times a day in a little water.

Safety & Side Effects

While Dong Quai is considered safe for most people, there are some instances this herb should not be used.

  • Not to be used during pregnancy due to its stimulating effect on the uterus.
  • Do not use during menstruation as it may increase the menstrual flow. Those with scanty flow may find it beneficial all month long.
  • Dong quai should not be used by those with diarrhea, hemorrhagic diseases, or excessive menstrual flow.
  • If you are using any anti-coagulant or blood thinning medication such as warfarin or aspirin, consult your health care professional prior to using this product.
  • Discontinue use 2 weeks prior to undergoing surgical procedures.

Safety Ratings
The Botanical Safety Handbook classifies Dong Quai as a class 2b: Not to be used during pregnancy unless otherwise directed by an expert qualified in the use of the described substance.


References:
– Trickey, Ruth. (2003). Women, Hormones and The Menstrual Cycle – herbal and medical solutions from adolescence to menopause. Crows nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
– Hirata, J. D., Swiersz, L. M., Zell, B., Small, R., & Ettinger, B. (1998). Does Dong Quai Have Estrogenic Effects in Postmenopausal Women? A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Obstetrical & gynecological survey, 53(5), 295-296.
– Huang, L. F., Li, B. Y., Liang, Y. Z., Guo, F. Q., & Wang, Y. L. (2004). Application of combined approach to analyze the constituents of essential oil from Dong quai. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry, 378(2), 510-517.
– Gerner, Zoe & McGuffin, Michael. (2013) Botanical Safety Handbook. Second Edition. Taylor & Francis Group

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[-] 372 Comments
  1. Hello,
    I am 23 years old, and I have never had a regular cycle.. my periods are basically completely absent. I was just wondering if dong-quai help with my condition. I suspect that I have PCOS but I have never been diagnosed. I know that I ho have cysts on my ovaries. I have tried vitex (pill form) in the past, but I did not see a difference. Would a tincture make a difference? and if i mix both dong-quai and vitex would it increase my chances or having a regular cycle?

    • Hello Jay!

      Dong Quai is worth learning more about based on what I know. It can be combined with Vitex. How long did you try Vitex for and at what dose? Liquid extracts can be more concentrated and faster acting, but Vitex is not a fast-acting herb. It is an herb that takes time to be as effective as it can be if diet and lifestyle are optimal. That brings me to wondering what your diet and lifestyle are like. Have you been told by your doctor why he things you have not had a regular cycle? Have you ever had a period at all?

      Consider also reading this guide How to Get Your Period Back for information on common reasons for why menstruation stops and what can be done about it.

  2. Hello,
    I came off BCP in early February. I was diagnosed with PCOS 10 years earlier and was on BCP for all that time. Never had period on the BCP for 10 years . Except for a few cysts on my ovaries I do not have any other PCOS symptoms.
    1 st Cycle- 61 days. I ovulated on day 48 after I took 1000mg for 7 days prior.
    2nd cycle 36 days. I ovulated on day 24. I took 1000mg every day during my follicular phas
    3rd cycle- I am currently on day 36 and have not ovulated. I have been taking 1000mg every day. Do I need to increase my dosage or stop it for a while? I started taking 1 cup of raspberry leaf tea and 800mg Vitex for 1 week now…..
    If you have any suggestions for me that would be wonderful

    • Dear Alana,

      What great changes so far! It can take the cycle some time to balance after 10 consecutive years of birth control use coupled with having a fertility health issue. Trust your body is working hard to find balance again!

      Dong Quai can be taken with Vitex and Red Raspberry Leaf, and is best take as the product manufacturer suggests. It is also best to be consistent with a herbal program for at least three months, but often longer. It is my opinion given what I know to stick with it! You may also appreciate these tips for after stopping birth control…

  3. Hi, I have what is called unexplained infertility and have just had the 1st IVF cycle which failed. I am thinking of may be immune issues but I don’t have the funds to ask for a complete blood work. I have just looked up on Shatavari and Maca (tried Maca about 3 yrs age and then stopped when I didn’t get pregnant). My question is can I take both Shatavari and Maca together?
    After my IVF transfer, during the 2ww I didn’t have much symptoms but n the 10th day, I had fever and felt I was coming down with something. I knew then something had gone wrong. Right now, I feel bloated and having backaches

  4. dear alizabeth,
    I am 29 year old. my menstruation cycle is regular, but I feel like my blood flow is light. I have not felt ny creamping during menstrution period. I am wondering that it is okey to use Dong Quei in order to increase blood flow.?

    Thanks,

  5. Hi, I have am currently TTC and have noticed that my last few periods have been scanty (1.5 days as opposed to my usual 4-5 days). Would dong quai be useful to resume my usual flow, and if so how should I take it?
    Many thanks in advance.

    • Dear Rebecca,

      Dong Quai could be considered given what I know. Be sure to stay hydrated and exercise daily as well. Both help wiht “flow” throughout the reproductive organs and period flow. If sedentary for work or routinely, movement is extra important. Fertility Massage may be worth learning more about as well.

      Dong Quai is best take as suggested on the bottle you purchase or as suggested in this guide.

  6. Hi,

    I’m wondering would it be harmful to take L-dopa (dopa mucuna) to increase dopamine in case I have PCOS? I need a motivational boost and I was thinking that dopa might help motivate the pituitary gland, consequently improving pcos. However, I’m worried that it would imbalance hormones (i.e: increase testosterone too much) . I currently take dong quai, prenatal multivitamin and vitamin D as I am deficient. Please advise me, I really can’t find enough resources on this topic.
    Thank you and I really appreciate your work.
    Amy

    • Dear Amy,

      What I have seen is that research on Mucuna Pruriens (velvet bean and the source of L-Dopa) is centered around negating the effects of snake venom, it’s use in ppl. with Parkinson’s and in male fertility health. People in general use Mucuna pruriens as an anti-depressant, and to boost libido or testosterone. I haven’t come across human research of the effectiveness of Mucuna pruriens for women with PCOS (there are rat studies).

      So, with all of that and because I truly know so little about this plant, I can’t suggest its use without guidance from a trained herbalist. What I can suggest are the tips we offer in our guide How to Reduce the Damaging Effects of PCOS on Fertility Through Diet and Herbs that is if it is determined that you do have PCOS. Whether you have it or not, maybe the boost could come from emotional support. Consider also Circle + Bloom’s PCOS for Fertility Mind-Body Program.

      My best as you keep searching for the best natural therapies for your needs!

  7. I am currently on CD 59 and started taking Dong Quai on CD 50 and I started bleeding the next day then spotting until CD 53 and started bleeding like it was my period again but after that I spotted for 3 more days then nothing since. Does that count as my period? (I came off birth control 4 months ago).

  8. I have read not to use dong quai is you have endometriosis, fibroids and pcos, is this true? i have blocked tubes due to scar tissue from a surgery and wanted to try and unblock them naturally by using enzymes and chinese herbal teas along with cator oil pack.

    • Dear Sandrea,

      To say that women with an of those fertility health issues aren’t to use Dong Quai may be false. We would want to learn how each individual is impacted by and experience their fertility health issue(s) before suggesting (or not) Dong Quai.

      Here we share information about Natural Therapies for Blocked Fallopian Tubes that may interesting to you (click that link).

      If you have multiple fertility health issues and are unsure of where to begin, or how to proceed, please consider working one on one with our fertility herbalist who can lay out an entire natural fertility program for you based on your specific fertility health needs. This is offered through a Fertility Consultation.

  9. Thanks for the information! I noticed you said not to take during your period, so should you stop the day your period starts and then start again once it is over?

  10. hello, I had ovarian cyst surgery in 2015, three months after that surgery i was able to convince but i lost the pregnancy while in 15 wks. I went for check up and discover that i have Low progesterone and high prolactine but my cycle is regular,do I need to use Dong Quai and Vitex? or you can advice me what to take so that i can be able to conceive again.
    Thankx

    • Dear Dangio,

      I am very sorry for your loss!

      Vitex has undergone numerous studies that have shown its ability to help restore normal progesterone levels by increasing the production of luteinizing hormone (LH), the hormone that initiates ovulation (which in turn increases progesterone production). Vitex has the amazing ability to do this without containing hormones itself. It is also an herb that through nourishing the endocrine system can impact prolactin levels.

      It seems, give what you’ve shared that Vitex would be an herb to consider learning more about.