Dong quai, also called female ginseng, is an herb that's been used for thousands of years as medicine.
Although it's most commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, dong quai is attracting attention around the world because of its health benefits.
With a name like "female ginseng," it's not surprising that it can be a very beneficial herb for women.
Here's more about dong quai and its health benefits for everyone.
What is Dong Quai?
Dong quai, (Angelica sinensis), is an herb that belongs to the same plant family as carrots, celery, and parsley.
It is native to Asia and grows especially in the mountain areas of Japan, Korea, and China.
It has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a blood purifier and nourisher, to treat depression, and to balance female hormones. (1)
The root of the plant is used medicinally and contains many active compounds including coumarin, ferulic acid, and phytosterols.
While dong quai is often used to support female health, it has a wide range of benefits for men as well.
Fertility and Balancing Hormones
One of the most traditional uses for dong quai is to enhance fertility and balance female hormones. (2)
Though research is still ongoing, dong quai appears to have a unique ability to balance estrogen in the body. (3)
Rather than specifically increasing or decreasing estrogen levels, dong quai can help to balance both high and low levels of estrogen.
This property makes dong quai a powerful herb to use when dealing with fertility issues and hormone imbalances. It can also improve libido for men and women. (4)
To bring hormones back in balance and enhance fertility, try taking dong quai in this herbal Fertili Tea blend.
Menopause is a normal life-phase that typically happens for women in their late 40s or early 50s.
However, it often comes with unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, mood swing, and more.
Because these symptoms often come from low estrogen levels, dong quai can help to alleviate them due to its estrogenic effect. (5)
A preparation of dong quai and chamomile seems to be especially effective at relieving hot flashes and trouble sleeping. (6)
Dong quai is a good natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy and can be even more effective when combined with herbs like black cohosh.
To help alleviate menopausal symptoms, try this Menopause Melody Tea with dong quai, black cohosh, and other beneficial herbs.
There is also some research showing that dong quai can help prevent or treat bone density loss, which often comes along with menopause. (7)
PMS and Menstrual Cramps
Dong quai also has benefits for PMS symptoms and painful periods.
The hormone-balancing nature of dong quai can help to regulate periods and lessen mood swings.
It also has antispasmodic properties which can help to relieve painful cramping. (8)
Dong quai is considered a blood tonic in traditional Chinese medicine and can help to replenish the blood more quickly after menstruation. (9)
Benefits of Dong Quai for Heart Health
Dong quai is also a very beneficial herb for the heart in a few different ways.
First, it can help to lower blood pressure, which is important because high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease. (10)
Second, dong quai can also help to lower total and "bad" LDL cholesterol levels, especially when combined with another Chinese herb called huang qi. (11)
Finally, the antispasmodic effects of dong quai along with its active compounds can help to calm abnormal heart rhythms and even reduce the formation of plaque in blood vessels. (12)
Although it can't replace a healthy diet or exercise, dong quai can be a very heart-healthy addition to your diet.
Blood Purifier and Tonic
In traditional Chinese medicine, dong quai is considered a blood purifier and tonic.
What exactly does this mean?
The nutrients and compounds in dong quai make it effective for improving blood circulation.
This helps keep the blood healthy, prevents blood clots, ensures blood reaches extremities, and can also boost energy levels.
In addition, dong quai also helps to replenish and nourish blood supply. (9)
It contains a good source of iron, which is a key component of red blood cells.
This means that dong quai can help to prevent or treat anemia and replenish the blood supply after blood loss.
Reduces Blood Sugar Levels
Research indicates that dong quai may have benefits for treating or preventing diabetes.
One animal study shows that it can help to lower blood sugar levels as well as improve insulin resistance. (13)
Another study confirmed these results and also suggested that dong quai can be especially helpful for those who consume a high-fat diet and have fatty liver. (14)
Inflammation is a normal immune response of the body, but chronic inflammation can lead to all kinds of diseases.
Dong quai's antioxidant content and other active compounds make it beneficial for reducing inflammation. (15)
These anti-inflammatory properties also make it a useful herb for helping with inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Using Dong Quai
There are several different ways to use dong quai for its health benefits.
The root is available powdered, in capsule form, and as a liquid extract.
Always make sure that you are buying supplements from a trusted and reputable source, since the supplement industry is not regulated.
Another common way to take dong quai is by using the dried root to make a tea.
Especially in traditional Chinese medicine, dong quai is not often used on its own.
For example, to help with PMS and menopausal symptoms, it is often combined with herbs like black cohosh.
Side Effects and Precautions
Dong quai contains the compound coumarin, which is also found in blood-thinning medications like Warfarin.
You should not take dong quai with Warfarin or other blood-thinners.
Stop taking dong quai 2 weeks before any surgery.
Dong quai can also cause allergy symptoms, especially in people who are allergic to cilantro (coriander), parsley, celery, or dill.
Because of its estrogenic effects, dong quai should be avoided by people with hormone-sensitive conditions (like estrogen-sensitive cancers).
It may also interfere with birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.
Dong quai should not be taken during pregnancy.
Start Benefiting From Dong Quai
Dong quai has a special place in Chinese medicine, but its benefits are accessible to everyone.
Talk with a natural health practitioner to learn how dong quai can help you the most, but be sure not to miss out on this powerful herb!