Dong quai has been effectively used for natural cures and home remedies for a variety of different gynecological disorders for centuries. A staple in Chinese medicine, Dong quai is often called “female ginseng”. It is an herb that hails from the same family as celery and its medicinal root is native to Korea, Japan and China.
Other commonly used names are:
- Chinese angelica
- Tang Kuei
- Female ginseng
- Dang gui
Dong Quai Description
Dong quai seeds are pale yellow with membrane-like edges. The seeds are oblong shaped and one side is flattened, while the other side is curved and features three ribs. The roots of the plant are long, shaped like a spindle, fleshy and can weigh as much as three pounds. Dong quai’s long stems can grow to be over four feet in height. They are not woody, but are hollow, stout and fluted. The plant’s leaves are sometimes as much as three feet long, are of a reddish-purple hue and features flowers that are small, green or yellow. The flowers are numerous and blossom on large rounded umbels or stalks that appear similar to an umbrella shape with a common point from which each flower sprouts.
Dong quai can be prepared by boiling and soaking the root in wine. It can also be consumed raw, in a liquid extract or in tablet form. When eaten raw, many enjoy it as a salad. Some even enjoy it boiled or roasted. Dong quai is also commonly used as a garnish and as a side dish similar to spinach. Dong quai seeds and their oil extract can be used as seasoning to add additional flavoring to candies, cakes and dried fruit snacks.
Common Uses of Dong Quai
Dong quai is regularly used to balance female hormones and to treat a list of gynecological disorders. A few of its most common uses are:
- Menstrual pain
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Post-childbirth rejuvenation
- Irregular menstrual bleeding
- High blood pressure
- Sinus congestion
- Rheumatoid arthritis (and other rheumatic diseases)
Chinese healers assert that each of the dong quai root’s parts is useful for different treatments. For example, the root’s head is useful as an anticoagulant, the root’s end is useful in treating blood stagnation and is the part believed most useful in balancing female hormones, while the main part of the dong quai root is useful as a tonic.
As with all herbs, anyone currently under a doctor’s care should discuss using herbal treatments with their doctor to avoid any harmful interactions with prescription drugs. This is especially so for anyone currently taking prescription anticoagulants (blood thinners). Further, women experiencing excessive menstrual flow or other bleeding disorders, abdominal bloating or diarrhea should not use dong quai. Instead, a qualified health practitioner should be consulted. Dong quai should also not be used by anyone experiencing a cold or flu symptoms.
Because dong quai may include compounds that are similar to estrogen, women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid taking it, as should those with breast cancer and children.
Exposure to the sun should be limited while taking dong quai because it can cause photosensitivity in some people. When exposure cannot be avoided, sunblock is highly recommended.