Dong Quai

Plant Part Used

Root

Introduction

Dong quai is revered as one of the most important remedies in Chinese medicine. It has been used for centuries for a variety of female complaints and is considered a tonic for women who are tired, recovering from illness, or have low vitality. It has also been used in the treatment of allergies and for smooth muscle spasms. A standardized extract of dong quai is derived from the root of the plant.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

200mg (standardized extract), 2-3 times a day.

Most Common Dosage

200mg (standardized extract), 2 times a day.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 0.8-1.1% of ligustilide per dose.

Reported Uses

Dong quai has a long tradition of use in the alleviation of the symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Scientists think the herb’s rich supply of phytoestrogens allows for the body to dispose of the excess estrogen produced when PMS symptoms are experienced. (1) , (2) When the female body is going through menopause, scientists think dong quai’s phytoestrogens facilitate the body’s ability to process available estrogen more efficiently.

However, numerous studies evaluating the use of dong quai for that purpose have not had promising results. One indicated that dong quai showed only weak estrogen receptor activity, (3) whereas another stated it was no more helpful than placebo in treating menopausal symptoms. (4) Reviews of the medical literature question the benefit of dong quai in treating menopausal symptoms as well. (5) , (6) , (7) One study even noted that dong quai stimulated cell growth of a specific type of breast cancer. (8) Dong quai should be avoided in women with estrogen fed cancers until further information is gathered regarding its estrogenic activity.

Dong quai may support a healthy cardiovascular system. Studies suggest the herb dilates blood vessels and facilitates healthy blood flow, both of which may be useful in fighting hypertension. (9) , (10) , (11) , (12) Finally, dong quai may strengthen the immune system by enhancing white blood cell activity. (13) , (14)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines. (15)

If you are planning to have any type of surgery or dental work, stop using this dietary supplement for at least 14 days prior to the procedure.

Health Conditions

If you have a hemorrhagic disease or other bleeding disorder, excessive menses or severe flu do not take this dietary supplement. (16) If you have gastrointestinal distress or low blood pressure talk to your doctor before taking this dietary supplement. (17)

Scientific studies have reported that certain ingredients contained in this dietary supplement act similar to the body's natural hormone estrogen. If you have or are susceptible to hormonally related cancers, such as breast, ovarian and prostate, talk to your doctor before taking this dietary supplement.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

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References

  1. View Abstract: Hirata JD, et al. Does Dong quai Have Estrogenic Effects in Postmenopausal Women? A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial. Fertil Steril. 1997;68(6):981-86.
  2. Xu LN, et al. The Effect of Dang-gui (Angelica sinensis) and Its Constituent Ferulic Acid on Phagocytosis in Mice. Yao Hsueh Hsueh Pao. 1981;16(6):411-14.
  3. View Abstract: Liu J, Burdette JE, Xu H, Gu C, van Breemen RB, Bhat KP, et al. Evaluation of estrogenic activity of plant extracts for the potential treatment of menopausal symptoms. J Agric Food Chem. May 2001;49(5):2472-9.
  4. View Abstract: Hirata JD, Swiersz LM, Zell B, Small R, Ettinger B. Does dong quai have estrogenic effects in postmenopausal women? A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Fertil Steril. Dec1997;68(6):981-6.
  5. View Abstract: Willhite LA, O'Connell MB. Urogenital atrophy: prevention and treatment. Pharmacotherapy. Apr2001;21(4):464-80.
  6. View Abstract: Hardy ML. Herbs of special interest to women. J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash). Mar2000;40(2):234-42.
  7. View Abstract: Shaw CR. The perimenopausal hot flash: epidemiology, physiology, and treatment. Nurse Pract. Mar1997;22(3):55-6, 61-6.
  8. View Abstract: Amato P, Christophe S, Mellon PL. Estrogenic activity of herbs commonly used as remedies for menopausal symptoms. Menopause. Mar2002;9(2):145-50.
  9. Tao JY, et al. Studies on the Antiasthmatic Action of Ligustilide of Dang-gui, Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels. Yao Hsueh Hsueh Pao. 1984;19(8):561-65.
  10. View Abstract: Chen SG, et al. Protective Effects of Angelica sinensis Injection on Myocardial Ischemia/ Reperfusion Injury in Rabbits. Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. 1995;15(8):486-88.
  11. View Abstract: Chen YC. Experimental Studies on the Effects of Danggui Buxue Decoction on IL-2 Production of Blood-deficient Mice. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih. 1994;19(12):739-41.
  12. View Abstract: Chen YC, et al. Research on the Mechanism of Blood-tonifying Effect of Danggui buxue Decoction. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih. 1994;19(1):43-45.
  13. View Abstract: Raman A, et al. Investigation of the Effect of Angelica sinensis Root Extract on the Proliferation of Melanocytes in Culture. J Ethnopharmacol. 1996;54(2-3):165-70.
  14. View Abstract: Choy YM, et al. Immunopharmacological Studies of Low Molecular Weight Polysaccharide from Angelica sinensis. Am J Chin Med. 1994;22(2):137-45.
  15. McKenna DJ, ed. Natural Supplements. St Croix, MN: INPR; 1998.
  16. Northrup C. The Menopause Center. Meno Times. San Rafael, CA. 1995.
  17. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:28-30.