Dong quai is also known as Chinese angelica. It belongs to the same plant family as parsley, celery, carrots, and poison hemlock. Dong quai has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese, Korean, and Japanese medicine. It is one of the most popular plants in Chinese medicine.
Dong quai has been called "female ginseng" because it is commonly used for health conditions in women. The plant has been used for menstrual cramps, anemia associated with menstruation, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pelvic pain, recovery from childbirth or illness, and fatigue or low energy. Dong quai is used in both men and women for heart conditions, high blood pressure, inflammation, headache, infections, and nerve pain.
It has been suggested that dong quai has weak estrogen-like effects. However, it remains unclear whether dong quai has the same effects as estrogens, blocks estrogen activity, or lacks significant hormonal effects.
Dong quai is often used in combination with other herbs for liver and spleen problems. It is thought to work best in people who have a calm, reserved profile, and is thought to be a mildly warming herb. Dong quai is believed to help nourish the blood and balance energy.
There is little human evidence to support the medical use of dong quai. Dong quai has been studied for many conditions, including absent menstrual periods, arthritis, blood circulation, brain disorders, heart disease, immune problems, and sexual dysfunction. More high-quality research is needed to confirm the use of dong quai for any condition.
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Selected combination products: Angelica-alunite solution, angelica-paeonia powder, Bloussant( breast enhancement tablets, Bust Plus(, danggui huoxue tang (blood stimulant decoction of dong quai), danggui buxue tang (dong quai hematinic decoction), hormonal and immune system tonic, Four Things Soup (dong quai, Rehmannia glutinosa, Ligusticum wallichii, and Paeonia lactiflora), koo sar pills (containing 11 ingredients, including dong quai), Phyto-Female Complex (SupHerb®, Netanya, Israel; ingredients: standardized extracts of black cohosh, dong quai, milk thistle, red clover, American ginseng, and chaste-tree berry), shou wu chih, dong quai four, shenyan huayu tang (decoction for nephritis and stasis), Sini decoction, Siwu tang, shimotus to, tokishakuyakusan, xiao yao powder, xiao yao wan ("free and easy wanderer," Bupleurum, and dong quai), yishen tang (kidney tonic decoction).
Note: Angelica dahurica is commonly known as Chinese angelica; however, it is not included in this bottom line.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Amenorrhea (lack of menstrual period)
There is limited evidence to support the use of dong quai for a lack of menstrual period. More research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Dong quai has been traditionally used for arthritis. However, there is a lack of evidence to support its use for this condition. Further research is needed.
A combination Chinese product containing dong quai may reduce limb swelling and promote blood circulation. However, the effect of dong quai alone is unclear and more research is needed.
Death and dying
There is a lack of evidence to support the use of dong quai as a treatment for rhesus incompatibility (a condition in which a woman and her unborn child have incompatible blood types).
Decreased blood platelets
There is promising early evidence to support the use of dong quai as part of a combination treatment for idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (a bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets). Further research is needed.
Early study suggests that dong quai in combination with other herbs may have protective heart health benefits, reduce cholesterol levels, and improve coronary heart disease symptoms. However, there is a lack of human research on the possible effects of dong quai alone. Further studies are needed.
Dong quai extract has been shown to stimulate the immune system in people undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for breast cancer. However, further research is needed in this area.
Kidney disease (Glomerulonephritis)
There is a lack of evidence to support the use of dong quai as a treatment for glomerulonephritis (in which kidney damage affects the filtering of waste and fluids from blood). Further study is needed.
Lichen planus (itchy skin rash)
There is a lack of evidence to support the use of dong quai to treat lichen planus in the vagina. High-quality research is needed in this area.
Early study has found promising results for the use of dong quai in combination with other herbs to treat menstrual cramps. More high-quality human evidence is needed.
Menstrual migraine headache
There is promising early evidence to support the use of dong quai as part of a combination therapy for menstrual migraine headache. However, further research is needed on the possible benefits of dong quai alone.
Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)
Dong quai may improve high blood pressure in the lungs, blood thickness, and red blood cell volume. Further research is needed.
A cream containing dong quai and other herbs has been shown to improve sexual function and satisfaction. Early study suggests that dong quai in combination with other herbs may also improve or reduce hot flashes, as well as decrease fatigue and sleep problems. More studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Dong quai has been studied for benefits on blood flow and memory in people who have had a stroke. A combination product containing dong quai has been studied for the prevention of blood clots in the brain. Further research is needed.
Ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease)
Dong quai may benefit people who have blood disorders associated with ulcerative colitis. More research is needed to confirm these early results.
Dong quai has been used as part of traditional Chinese formulas to treat menopause symptoms. Dong quai may have estrogen-like effects and has been studied for the treatment of hot flashes. However, the only study using dong quai alone found a lack of effectiveness on menopause symptoms. High-quality research is still needed in this area.