Dong Quai: Uterine Tonic and Fertility Herb….

Dong Quai: Uterine Tonic and Fertility Herb….

Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) is one of the most powerful females tonic and fertility 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 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”
  • If you experience 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. One of the best uses is it helps women who are not menstruating to invite there menstruation back. The increased circulation also helps to strengthen and balance the uterus. In rat studies it has been show 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. It’s relaxing effects are just as powerful as well known herbs lavender, chamomile, or valerian root.

How to Use Dong Quai

We find that Dong Quai is best taken as the dried powdered root in capsules. The daily suggested use of Dong Quai is 3120mg per day, split into 3 separate doses of 1,040mg. Dong Quai is best taken with food, during meals.

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 the stimulating effect of dong quai.
  • 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 used of the described substance.


References:
1. Trickey, Ruth. Women’s Hormones, and The Menstrual Cycle. 2003.
2. Hirata, Janie D.; Swiersz, Lillian M.; Zell, Bonnie; Small, Rebecca; Ettinger, Bruce. Does Dong Quai Have Estrogenic Effects in Postmenopausal Women? A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey. 53(5):295-296, May 1998.
3. Lan-Fang Huang, Bo-Yan Li, Yi-Zeng, Liang Fang-Qiu Guo, and Ya-Li Wang. Application of combined approach to analyze the constituents of essential oil from Dong quai. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry Volume 378, Number 2 / January, 2004.

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[-] 292 Comments
  1. I am 32yrs old, have regular cycle of (30-31days). Seven months ago I had a miscarriage (first pregancy). The reasons for my miscarriage were not investigated by my doctor, however, I suspect that it was due to imbalance in my oestrogen-progesterone.Prior to pregnancy I had been on highly soya-related diet and other products which boosted my oestrogen levels as oppossed to my progesterone.I am planning to try for a baby in a couple of months. Since the miscarriage I have replaced all soya products with alternatives and have been taking pregnacare fertility product + rasberry leaf + other vits.I am considering taking dong quai to increase my flow.How long shoul I take it for and when to stop?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Mila,

      Dong Quai can be taken all month long if scanty menstrual flow is experienced, however it is not to be used during menstruation if flow is normal or heavy. In general we suggest taking an herb for a minimum of three months to see desired results (for some this may be longer) and Dong Quai should be discontinued if you try to conceive and there is a chance you may be pregnant. It is not to be taken in pregnancy.

      Consider also learning about Self Fertility Massage to support uterine and menstrual cycle health.

      Best wishes!

  2. I am 37yrs old, have a regular cycle, unexplained infertility diagnosed (trying 4 yrs), 1 IVF cycle- unsuccessful- 8 eggs- 2 fertilized, no pregnancy; low AMH, tried acupuncture for months. I started taking vitex 1000mg per day 2 months ago and had a blood test and at day 21 my progesterone was lower than normal range and prolactin just in high range. So, I suspect I may not have ovulated that month, as my period came a few days earlier that month, but not usual for me. I think there may be some stagnation as period often is slow to start & sometimes dark blood at start, tummy is cold to touch. I don’t have any other symptoms such as painful period etc just stagnation, would Dong Quai be suitable?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Lili,

      Dong Quai works by promoting blood flow to the pelvis where it may stimulate an absent or scanty period (thin or light menses).

      Thick dark blood that looks old or is brown, is old blood left over from the previous cycle. This may be caused by a sluggish menstrual flow, lack of uterine tone or low uterine circulation.

      Herbs and therapies used traditionally for this imbalance are:
      Self Fertility Massage
      Cleansing for Fertility
      Systemic Enzyme Therapy
      Hydration
      FertiliCare

      Some women do experience cycle shifts when they begin taking herbs that have an action on the hormones. Shifts often work themselves out and are considered a sign of the body responding to the herb. For optimal results, Fertilica Vitex should be taken long-term. Clinical research shows that vitex may start working within 10 days, but full benefits may not be experienced until 6 months or longer.

      I hope this is helpful!

  3. Hi, will this herb eradicate the need of painkillers when it comes to menstrual cramps? I take Evening Primrose Oil and Fish Oil 250mg each a day. However, I generally still need painkillers every time I menstruate and I want to stop using those drugs. What do you recommend? Thanks.

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Farrah,

      I am sorry you have to deal with painful menstruation, also referred to as dysmenorrhea. Dong Quai may support a reduction in menstrual cramping, but there is no way for me to say for certain it alone will “eradicate” your pain. Consider learning more about Natural Remedies for Painful Menstruation.

      Take care!

  4. I want to get pregnant again but am nursing my daughter in the morning once a day. I have not gotten back my period yet but have taken ovulation tests and says i am ovulating but i have not gotten pregnant again yet. My daughter is a year and on organic whole milk as well. Can i take dong quai to help aid in me getting pregnant? do you think i am ovulating its just not a good egg? Thanks for your help in advance!

  5. I have a history of miscarriage and I will be starting IUI with my fertility doctor soon. I have seen dong quai mixed with red raspberry leaf tea. Is it safe to drink together? And when should i take it? I’ve heard that you should not take anything like that after ovulation since of the miscarriage history.

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Jasmine,

      It is going to be best for you to talk to your fertility doctor about all that you are taking and even interested in taking. Herbs are not suggested to be taken during the IUI process and because I am not certain of when you will begin IUI, you may not want to start anything you are not being guided in taking, or anything new.

      Fertilica Dong Quai and Red Raspberry leaf are best used in preparation for pregnancy, in general 3-6 months prior to trying to conceive. Neither should be used during menstruation and if you have a history of recurrent miscarriage, it is best not to take these herbs after ovulation. Both should be discontinued prior to beginning any fertility medical procedure.

      Best wishes!

  6. My period hasnt shown for months now. Im not into doctor visits bc they never diagnose me properly. I would like to give this herb a try bc im more of a naturalist when it comes to drugs. How long does it take for it to take affect , how long should i take it for, if my period starts do i stop taking it or continue until the bottle is finished? Please help.

    Ps . Im 21 and been trying to get pregnant for 7 months now and my husband isnt sterile. I just havent had my period since march. So kinda hard when u dont ovulate.

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Hi Jai!
      Thank you for reaching out to us!

      Dong Quai is the main herb for the issue of absent menses. Dong Quai works by promoting blood flow to the pelvis where it will stimulate an absant or scanty period. It also nourishes the blood (it is in nearly all Chinese herbal blood-building formulas). Increased circulation also helps to strengthen and balance the uterus.

      It may help to start by completing a Fertility Cleanse. While this alone may not support the return of menstruation, it does support the liver and uterus in detoxifying and being better able to utilize any herbs, supplement and natural therapies you might try.

      After you complete the Fertility Cleanse, you could start Fertilica Dong Quai or RejuvaFlow and Self Fertility Massage.

      Best wishes!

  7. Hi
    I am an 18 year dancer and as I am very much physically active, my period hardly comes. Would you recommend dong quai?

    Thanks

  8. Update 2014 – We are back! We have been away for a while and we sure have missed all of your wonderful questions and thoughts on our articles. Moving forward, one of our staff herbalists will be here to respond to comments! We look forward to connecting with our readers once again!

  9. Hello

    I have got late period for a month and I have never use dong quai. Should I use this to get my period back? How many should I take daily and when will period come after the dosage.

    Thanks
    Lin

  10. HI, I have PCOS, Prolactinoma, 2 x parietal meningiomas and multi nodular goiter.My GP has taken me off metformin,dostinex and metoprolol as having atrial taccycardia and think its the dostinex, want to try herbal meds instead, my period is about 32 day cycle ?ovulate but when AF comes very dark, smelly leading up to and throughout and not much of it.Tried ICSI no good, DH sperm poor.think start with fertility cleanse,macs and vitex-is this ok? Anything to help offensive and short AF?

  11. Hi,

    I have used dongquai for nearly a month and did not know I was already pregnant, what should I do now? Im so worried :(

  12. Hi,
    I am currently trying to conceive, have been trying for 2 years now. My egg count is low for my age-9.7% and i am 31. I have been given femara from my fertility doctor. I am just wondering if i can use Dong Quai with these pills or not?
    Thanks, Kristy