What is it?
Dong quai is a plant. People use the root to make medicine.
Dong quai is used for menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and menopausal symptoms. It is also used orally as a ”blood purifier”; to manage hypertension, infertility, joint pain, ulcers, “tired blood” (anemia), and constipation; and in the prevention and treatment of allergic attacks. Dong quai is also used orally for the treatment of loss of skin color (depigmentation) and psoriasis.
Some men apply dong quai to the skin of the penis as part of a multi-ingredient preparation for treating premature ejaculation.
In Southeast Asia, other Angelica species are sometimes substituted for dong quai (Angelica sinensis). Most often these include Angelica acutiloba, which is predominantly found in Japan; and Angelica gigas, which is mainly found in Korea. Although these three species are similar, the chemicals they contain are different. Don’t think of these species as interchangeable.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for DONG QUAI are as follows:
Possibly effective for...
- Menopausal symptoms. Various combination products that contain dong quai seem to reduce menopausal symptoms. Taking a specific product containing dong quai and chamomile (Climex) seems to reduce hot flushes in menopausal women. Taking a specific product containing American ginseng, black cohosh, dong quai, milk thistle, red clover, and vitex agnus-castus (Phyto-Female complex) seems to reduce hot flushes and night sweats and improve sleep quality in pre- and post-menopausal women. Taking a product containing burdock root, licorice root, motherwort, dong quai, and Mexican wild yam root seems to reduce menopausal symptoms as well. However, some evidence suggests that taking dong quai alone does to improve symptoms of menopause.
- Premature ejaculation, when applied directly to the skin of the penis in combination with other herbs. The other herbs are Panax ginseng root, Cistanches deserticola, Zanthoxyl species, Torlidis seed, clove flower, Asiasari root, cinnamon bark, and toad venom (SS Cream).
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Heart disease. Early research suggests that injecting a specific product containing dong quai, ginseng, and astragalus (Yi-qi Huo-xue Injection) intravenously (by IV) reduces chest pain, improves heart function, and increases exercise tolerance in people with heart disease.
- Stroke. Early research suggests that injecting 200 mL of solution containing dong quai intravenously (by IV) for 20 days does not improve brain function in people who had a stroke due to a blocked blood flow to the brain.
- Migraine. Early research suggests that taking a combination of soy, dong quai, and black cohosh for 24 weeks reduces migraines associated with menstruation.
- Problems during pregnancy. Early research suggests that taking a combination of dong quai, motherwort, white peony, Banks’ rose, and Ligustica during pregnancy reduces the risk of having a miscarriage in pregnant women with maternal-fetal blood group incompatibility.
- High blood pressure arteries carrying blood from the heart to the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). Early research suggests that injecting 250 mL of a dong quai solution intravenously (by IV) for up to 10 days reduces pressure and improves blood flow in people with pulmonary hypertension.
- Painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea).
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- High blood pressure.
- Joint aches and pains.
- Skin discoloration and psoriasis.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of dong quai for these uses.
Dong quai root has been shown to affect estrogen and other hormones in animals. It is not known if these same effects happen in humans.
Dong quai is POSSIBLY SAFE for adults when taken by mouth and when occasionally applied to the skin as an ingredient in a cream. More evidence is needed to determine its safety after prolonged or repeated use.
Dong quai can cause skin to become extra-sensitive to the sun. This might put you at greater risk for skin cancer. Wear sun block outside, especially if you are light-skinned.
Taking dong quai in large amounts for a long period of time is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Dong quai contains chemicals that are considered to be cancer-causing (carcinogens).
Special precautions & warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking dong quai by mouth during pregnancy is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for the baby. Dong quai seems to affect the muscles of the uterus. There is also one report linking an herbal combination that contained dong quai with birth defects in a baby whose mother took the combination during the first three months of pregnancy. Don’t use dong quai if you are pregnant.
There isn’t enough information about the safety of using dong quai during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and don’t use it.
Bleeding disorders. Dong quai might slow blood clotting. In theory, dong quai might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Dong quai might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use dong quai.
Protein S deficiency: People with protein S deficiency have an increased risk of forming blood clots. There is some concern that dong quai might increase the risk of clot formation in these people because it has some of the effects of estrogen. Don’t use dong quai if you have protein S deficiency.
Surgery: Dong quai can slow blood clotting. It might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking dong quai at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Do not take this combination.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Dong quai might slow blood clotting. Taking dong quai along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Dong quai can also slow blood clotting. Taking dong quai along with warfarin (Coumadin) can increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
Be cautious with this combination.
Dong quai might act like the hormone estrogen. When taken together, dong quai might increase the risk for side effects.
Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
Dong quai might slow blood clotting. Using dong quai along with other herbs that slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bleeding and bruising in some people. These herbs include angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, panax ginseng, poplar, red clover, willow, and others.
There are no known interactions with foods.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
APPLIED TO THE SKIN
- For early orgasm in men (premature ejaculation): a multi-ingredient cream preparation containing Panax ginseng root, dong quai, Cistanches deserticola, Zanthoxyl species, Torlidis seed, clove flower, Asiasari root, cinnamon bark, and toad venom (SS Cream) was applied to the glans penis 1 hour before sex and washed off immediately before sex.
Angelica China, Angelica sinensis, Angelica polymorpha var. sinensis, Angelicae Gigantis Radix, Angélique Chinoise, Angélique de Chine, Chinese Angelica, Dang Gui, Danggui, Danguia, Don Quai, Kinesisk Kvan, Ligustilides, Radix Angelicae Gigantis, Radix Angelicae Sinensis, Tang Kuei, Tan Kue Bai Zhi, Tanggwi, Toki.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (//www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).
To see all references for the Dong quai page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/936.html.
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