Dong quai is one of the most popular Traditional Chinese Medicinal herbs used in China, Japan, and Korea. It is now gaining popularity in America and Europe for its outstanding, all-natural benefits. Dong quai is known by different names in different countries and regions, the most common being Dang Gui, Angelica sinensis, Chinese Angelica and Danguia.
Dong quai has been used for over a thousand years in combination with other traditional Chinese herbs. Dong quai is believed to support female conditions like menopause, menstrual cycles, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and cramps.* However, it is also used to support other conditions such as male sexual health, heart health, digestive health, and bone health, among others.* This article comprehensively covers everything you need to know about Dong quai: what it is, its health and wellness benefits, uses of dong quai and precautions. Read on to learn more.
What is Dong Quai?
Dong quai is a plant that comes from the same family as celery, parsley, and carrots. It grows in high areas with cold and damp conditions like mountain regions. This perennial plant has white flowers, purple stems, and winged fruits. It takes about three years for a dong quai plant to reach maturity, then its yellow-brown roots are harvested and used for medicinal purposes. The roots in particular are turned into powder, tablets, and other forms.
Benefits of Dong Quai
Traditionally, dong quai is believed to support numerous health conditions. With its increasing popularity in western culture, some studies (as you'll see below) have been conducted to investigate its beneficial properties. However, limited data on its effectiveness has been published and more studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of dong quai as an alternative choice and health supplement.
- Female Sexual Health
Dong quai is a common recommendation for the support of female sexual health.* So much so that it has earned the name “female ginseng.” Dong quai is normally used with other herbal combinations in order to produce the desired results. When paired with chamomile, it is known to help with hot flashes in women who are undergoing menopause.* When paired with milk thistle, chaste tree, black cohosh, clover, and ginseng, it is believed to help with hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep for women undergoing natural menopausal changes.*
Dong quai can also be taken in other nutrient combinations. For instance, it can be taken with licorice root, Mexican wild yam root, motherwort, and burdock root to support menopausal changes.* Despite being very popular as a combination supplement, it can also be consumed as a single herb. Let’s explore a few scientific studies and their results.
It is believed that menopause is connected to reducing the amount of estrogen produced by ovaries. In a 2008 study, researchers set out to determine the estrogenic activity of standardized extract of Angelica sinensis (dong quai) root. They used in vivo tests such as, “ the degree of cornification of vaginal epithelium, uterotrophic assays, and serum LH concentration in ovariectomized rats.” The results showed a significant cornification of the vaginal epithelium and reduced serum LH concentration, indicating that Angelica sinensis may affect the estrous cycle.* However, this result isn’t conclusive as no testing has been done on humans yet, although it has been proved successful in animal models. 
In a 2003 clinical trial, researchers studied the consumption of dong quai and Matricaria chamomilla (Climex) in supporting hot flashes during menopause in a group of fifty-five women using a placebo-controlled experiment. They reported that the study group had a reduction in the number and intensity of hot flashes.* The researchers also noted that the group experienced better sleep and less fatigue.* Therefore, dong quai available in Climex, seems to be able to nutrish the body during menopausal changes.* 
In a 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effect of Dang Gui Buxue Tang (dong quai) on menopausal changes, the researchers reported that Dang Gui Buxue Tang (dong quai) helped the frequency of hot flashes and demonstrated superior qualities supporting the body’s natural ability to process hot flashes.*  In a 2006 review of supplemental therapies for hot flashes in menopause, dong quai is one of the suggested remedies.* 
In 2007, a randomized control trial was done to investigate the benefits of the herbal formula Phyto-Female Complex (which contains dong quai and other herbs). The researchers reported that after three months, hot flashes decreased, night sweats reduced, and sleep quality improved.* It was noted that hot flashes stopped for some of the study group.*  However, results are limited and inconclusive.
- Male Sexual Health
Despite dong quai being extremely popular for female sexual health, it is also used for male sexual health in cosmetic products.* It is typically combined with other herbs (Panax ginseng root, Cistanches deserticola, Zanthoxylum species, Torlidis seed, clove flower, Asiasari root, cinnamon bark, and toad venom) and applied on the skin of the genitalia.* This combination is what makes up SS Cream, a topical cream for ejaculation support. In 2000, a clinical study was conducted to determine the efficacy of SS cream in patients with lifelong concerns. The researchers reported that it was safe and effective in support of male sexual health.* 
- Heart Health
Dong quai is believed to have cardioprotective properties and is recommended for heart health with other Traditional Chinese herbs like ginseng and astragalus.* A 2000 study also showed that dong quai might be used to support cardiovascular health by nourishing red blood cell production.* 
- Digestive Health
Dong quai is believed to have a gastroprotective effect that helps the body protect the gut from the overproduction of stomach secretions. When stomach acid erodes the digestive tract, it may lead to chronic inflammation. And when left unattended, it may lead to the development of peptic ulcers. Dong quai supplementation may help the body maintain natural balance of the mucous lining in the digestive tract.* 
- Bone Health
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak, making them susceptible to breaking. This condition develops over time and mainly affects women experiencing menopausal changes. In a study done in 2002 investigating the effect of Angelica sinensis (dong quai) on the proliferation of human bone cells, researchers reported that dong quai might play a nutritional role in the stimulation of bone cells which contributes to overall bone health.* 
- Cellular Cycle Benefits
Dong quai nutrition is believed to contribute cellular signaling properties that may benefit cellular lifecycles.* In a 2006 study investigating the biological effects of dong quai on brain tissues, it was reported to slightly reduce VEGF, proapoptotic protein, and cathepsin B levels.* The study suggested that it may be useful to help with cellular control.* 
In a limited 2003 study investigating the activity of herbal supplements in the prostate of rats, researchers reported that dong quai might possess potential nutritional factors for cellular signaling.* 
Another experimental 2003 study suggested that “the total polysaccharides of Angelica sinensis (dong quai) [is complementary nutrition for healthy cellular signaling”]*  This points to dong quai’s potential use as a preventative nutritional herb.
- Respiratory Benefits
A 2008 study investigating nutrients from the roots of Angelica sinensis (dong quai) reported potential benefits. These polyenes nutrients were shown to possess promising experiences with ethnobotanical preparations.*  In simpler terms, dong quai possesses organic compounds that may be used in herbal concoctions.
- Neuroprotective Benefits
Dong quai is believed to possess nutritional properties that may be beneficial in protecting healthy nerve cells against daily damage.* In 2010, researchers investigated the pharmacological effects of HT008-1 (a prescription normally used in Traditional Korean Medicine containing Angelica sinensis or dong quai) on the nervous system. The limited and inconclusive study reported that it may be potentially beneficial in “a rat stroke model and may help sensory-motor function.”* 
- Amenorrhea Support
Amenorrhea is a temporary or permanent condition where you may miss menstrual periods. Amenorrhea is not similar to irregular periods. When you have amenorrhea, you normally don’t get your periods for consecutive months. While not a disease in itself, it may be a symptom to a bigger condition you should consult with your healthcare provider about.
In 2022, researchers set out to review and analyze the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine in alleviating amenorrhea caused by antipsychotic drugs. Dong quai was one of the traditional Chinese herbs used in the studies. They concluded that dong quai may possibly be effective in supporting the body’s natural ability to self balance.* However, this study was not conclusive, and there is a need for more research to verify purported results. 
- Potential Cellular Support
Though not conclusively proven, some studies report that consuming dong quai root may be potentially beneficial in healthy cellular control.* In a 2014 study, researchers analyzed the use of dong quai among patients to understand whether it influences their risks. The study reported those who had taken dang-qui (dong quai) might have more potential benefits then those who did not supplement with the botanical.* 
Dong quai is also believed to possess complementary benefits that may help patients, according to a 2011 study.* It was reported that dong quai might be effective in helping patients. “The bioavailable fraction polysaccharides identified and fractionated from (Angelica sinensis) may be used as a health-promoting agent.”* 
How To Use Dong Quai
Dong quai is a versatile herb that can be used in many different forms. You can enjoy dong quai:
- Raw - When consuming it raw, you want to thoroughly wash the roots, twigs, berries, and leaves.
- As a dried herb - When dry, it is usually boiled and then strained to make tea or soup. You can also soak it in wine before consumption.
- As granules - You can add dong quai granules to warm water or tea.
- As an injection - This is normally administered in countries like Japan and China.
- As tablets/pills/capsules - When in solid unit form, dong quai is sold as a single herb supplement or combined with other herbs. This is one of the most common forms to consume.
- Dong Quai is also available as a tincture, normally taken up to three times daily.
Dong quai suggested servings differ depending on the form, type, individual needs, and healthcare guidance. We always recommend consulting with your doctor and TCM practitioner.
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Dong Quai Side Effects
As the old adage goes, too much of anything is dangerous, and that applies to Traditional Chinese Medicine too. Dong quai can be abused when consumed excessively. When taking it orally, it is safe to combine it with other ingredients in normal amounts.* You can take it daily for up to six months, and anything beyond that may be harmful depending on the quality of herb you source. However, we always recommend consulting your doctor and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner in order to get an accurate serving size.
When incorrectly consumed excessively, dong quai can make your skin sensitive to sunlight, change blood pressure, and cause uncomfortable burping and gas.* Other dong quai concerns may include:
- Loss of appetite
Dong Quai Precautions
Before consuming Dong Quai, it is important to be aware of the following to minimize negative experiences.
- If you are pregnant, you should not consume dong quai orally as it may be unsafe for the baby. Also, as mentioned above, dong quai can influence the uterine composition. It is believed that consuming dong quai when pregnant increases the risk of congenital disabilities and miscarriage.
- Suppose you have a condition that may be aggravated by estrogen. In that case, it is best not to consume dong quai as it potentially plays a role in estrogen control in the body.
- Dong quai is not recommended if you are undergoing surgery as it is a potential blood thinner. It makes blood clotting harder, increasing the risk of bleeding out.
Dong quai is a versatile Traditional Chinese Medicine and herb that can help you maintain your health and achieve your wellness goals. It can readily be found as a raw herb or supplement, depending on your preference. While scientific studies have been done to investigate the benefits of dong quai on various situations, further investigation is required to substantiate the conclusions drawn.* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Should you wish to consume the dong quai herbal supplement, please consult a health care provider or traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to understand how it works and how it might interact with other herbs and medication.
- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12454251_Study_of_the_Gastrointestinal_ Protective_Effects_of_Polysaccharides_from_Angelica_sinensis_in_Rats
- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11185054_Effect_of_Angelica_ sinensis_on_the_proliferation_of_human_bone_cells