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Dong Quai as an Herb

Dong Quai as an herb

Angelica sinensis

Dong quai is a plant in the same family as celery, parsley, and carrots. The plant thrives in high, cool, shaded mountain woods in south and western China. Most of the supply is commercially grown there, rather than wild harvested.

The Chinese phrase "dong quai" literally means "state of return." Used in China for thousands of years, it is as highly regarded as ginseng.

Dong Quai as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the root is believed to nourish the blood and help harmonize vital energy, thus returning the system to proper order. In China it is one of the more frequently prescribed herbs and appears in prescriptions (with other herbs) for abnormal or suppressed menstruation, anemia, and other conditions.

In herbal medicine, the primary use of dong quai is as a uterine tonic, reducing menstrual pain and reducing disagreeable symptoms of menopause. Dong quai does not stimulate the production of estrogen.

Most research on dong-quai has been done in China and Japan since the early 1960s. Experiments show that whereas the volatile oil in the root causes relaxation of the uterine muscle, both water and alcohol extracts stimulate uterine contractions; alcohol extracts are stronger. Dongquai also normalizes irregular uterine contractions, improving blood flow to the uterus.

Dong-quai has been shown to improve circulation and lower blood pressure by increasing blood flow in the peripheral vessels and reducing vascular resistance. Experiments have also confirmed that it reduces inflammation, pain, and spasms, and increases the numbers of red blood cells and platelets.

A combined tea of equal parts Dong Quai and Peach Bark has been used to treat alcoholism.

Dong Quai tea has been used for arthritis, bronchitis, the side-effects of chemotherapy, cancer of the esophagus (to ease), fevers, headache (1 cup tea or a warm pack soaked in the tea), intestinal pain, bruises (alternating hot and cold packs which have been soaked in the tea), migraines (men), hypoglycemia, blood clots, and nervousness.

Dong-Quai Infusion

Dong Quai Duck

1 teaspoon dried root to 1 cup water; steeped 10 to 20 minutes.

Culinary Uses of Dong Quai

Used in China to make Dong Quai Duck


Pregnant or nursing women should avoid dong-quai unless under supervision of a qualified medical practitioner.

Avoid when there is diarrhea with flatulence.

Some angelica species are associated with contact dermatitis and related members of the parsley family are known to cause photodermatitis.

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