Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) is a tonic herb used and revered in Traditional Chinese Medicine to “restore healthy order to the body”. In the Chinese language, Dong Quai translates to “state of return”.
Touted as the female ginseng, Dong Quai is most commonly used today by herbalists as a female fertility herb to support uterine tone and strength, for pelvic pain, for menstrual irregularities, and to encourage menstruation when menstruation has ceased.
Dong Quai’s medicinal actions include:
- stimulating and relaxing the uterus
- antispasmodic and analgesic
- increased circulation
- improved blood flow to the pelvis
These benefits are in part why Dong Quai is also known for its ability to…
1. Build the Blood. Dong Quai’s circulation-increasing effects, and its vitamin and mineral content (vitamin B12, folic acid, folinic, ferulic and nicotinic acids, iron, along with biotin) boost red blood cell production, in turn increasing blood volume, which is key to why it offers each of the benefits listed below. Low iron levels in particular contribute to anemia which is important to avoid when trying to conceive. Dong Quai is also slightly blood-thinning which may slow blood clotting.
2. Oxygenate the Blood. Dong Quai also contains cobalt, which is believed to increase the hemoglobin content of red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein in blood that carries oxygen to red blood cells and contains iron.
3. Reduce Stress & Uplift Your Mood. Dong Quai is nourishing to the central nervous system – in turn helping to reduce anxiety and mood swings, reduce depression and promote relaxation. This may be due to its hormone-balancing, invigorating and arousing properties.
4. Strengthen the Immune System. Dong quai may increase production of white blood cells, which fight infection and boost the liver’s ability to detoxify the body. It is also a widely revered blood purifier, helping to reduce toxicity throughout the body. Based on traditional use, or scientific theory, Dong Quai may be useful for “immune cytopenias” resulting in a decreased number of immune cells in the blood (MayoClinic.org) which may be associated with underlying autoimmune disease. If experiencing immune-related infertility or blood disorders, consider researching the use of Dong Quai further with the help of your healthcare provider.
5. Support Male Fertility. Sperm quality and viability are known to be improved by ferulic acid, an antioxidant found in Dong Quai. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database shares that external application of an herbal cream containing Dong Quai has been used by men with premature ejaculation and proven “possibly effective”.
6. Alleviate Uterine Pain. Known to relax and stimulate uterine, vascular, and intestinal smooth muscle, Dong Quai may be useful in relieving pelvic congestion by increasing circulation. This benefit may be useful in the case of painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea).
7. Support Estrogen Balance. Dr. Aviva Romm in her book Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health shares that clinical studies are inconclusive and have not yet proven that Dong Quai has estrogenic effects in humans although it does, like many plants, contain phytoestrogens. As the “gynecological regulator” of herbs, Dong Quai may have the ability to lower high estrogen levels and raise low estrogen levels – meeting the needs of the body versus causing an estrogen imbalance.
This potent female (and male) fertility health herb, regarded as a fertility promoter, has become my recent herbal interest. I can’t read enough about it! Dong Quai can be rather fast-acting and effective as a part of a natural fertility program. For general suggested use guidelines, visit Dong Quai: Uterine Tonic and Fertility Herb….
While generally considered safe and highly recommended, there are precautions to know of…
- The Botanical Safety Handbook classifies Dong Quai as a class 1c: Not to be used during pregnancy unless otherwise directed by an expert qualified in the use of the described substance.
- Warning: never ingest the essential oil of Dong Quai without guidance from a qualified natural healthcare provider
- Not to be used during menstruation
- Not to be used while breastfeeding
- Avoid self-prescribing if you are at risk of developing hormone-related cancers
- Not to be used with anticoagulant drugs, aka. blood thinners or hormonal medications
- May increase skin sensitivity to the sun
Work with a qualified herbalist or natural healthcare provider if interested in taking Dong Quai with any of the following herbs therapeutically because they may also have blood-thinning actions within the body:
St. John’s Wort
- Biology of Kundalini – Herb List. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://biologyofkundalini.com/[email protected]=HerbList.html
- European Medicines Agency. (2013). Assessment report on Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels, radix. Retrieved from: https://www.ema.europa.eu/documents/herbal-report/final-assessment-report-angelica-sinensis-oliv-diels-radix-first-version_en.pdf
- Dong quai: MedlinePlus Supplements. (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/936.html
- Romm, A. (2010). Plant Profiles. In Botanical medicine for women’s health (pp. 534-535). St. Louis, Missouri: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
- The 9 Benefits of Dong Quai Almost No One is Aware Of. (2008). Retrieved from: http://bodyecology.com/articles/nine_benefits_of_dong_quai.php
- Weil, A. (2013). Herbs – Dong Quai Angelica sinensis. Retrieved from: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/REM00034/Dong-Quai-Dr-Weils-Herbal-Remedies.html
- Zheng, R., & Zhang, H. (1997). Effects of Ferulic Acid on Fertile and Asthenozoospermic Infertile Human Sperm Motility, Viability, Lipid Peroxidation, and Cyclic Nucleotides. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 22(4), 581-586. doi:10.1016/s0891-5849(96)00272-9 Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0891584996002729?via%3Dihub