Dong quai – Latin name angelica sinensis – is a plant native to China, Japan and Korea that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. Herbalists claim it has a whole wealth of health benefits, including building blood health, improving circulation and supporting the immune system, however it is best known for its role in supporting women’s health – helping to sooth menstrual cramps and relieve symptoms of menopause.
Why is it known as female ginseng?
The plant is often prescribed by herbalists to women to increase the quality of their blood. Improving the quality of blood in women can ease menstruation issues such as PMS, menopause and cramps – which is why dong quai is often referred to as ‘female ginseng’.
Dong quai contains ligustilide which has been shown to promote nonspecific antispasmodic activity in the uterine muscles – meaning it can have a soothing effect on menstrual cramps. One study found that when taking a concentrated dose of dong quai twice daily, 39% of women reported an improvement in their abdominal pain – so much so that they didn’t need to take painkillers and 54% felt that the pain was less severe but still needed painkillers to perform day-to-day tasks.
A reduction in some menopause symptoms has also been shown with treatment of dong quai. It is often prescribed by herbalists to treat hot flashes during menopause, and can also protect against osteoporosis which can appear in post-menopausal women due to the drop in oestrogen levels that comes with menopause. Osteoporosis is the weakening of bones, and research suggests that dong quai can help to strengthen bones by encouraging bone cells to form bones.
Other potential health benefits
As well as supporting women’s health, dong quai has been shown to have other health benefits:
Improves blood circulation
Studies suggest that dong quai may improve blood circulation, due to the way the body absorbs and excretes it. It has also been found to effectively decrease fat accumulation due to its water and ethanol extracts, too much fatty tissue can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Chronic inflammation can be the cause of many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer; however some studies suggest that dong quai has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that may decrease the risk of these diseases. One test tube study found that the levels of several different inflammatory markers were significantly decreased by dong quai extract.
How to take dong quai?
Dong quai is traditionally slow-cooked to infuse into soups, broths or tonics in China; however the easiest way to take dong quai is in supplement form. We suggest taking 1-2 capsules per day of our Dong Quai Root Extract – 1% Lingustilide with food, or as directed by a healthcare practitioner.