Dong Quai

Plant Part Used

Root

Active Constituents

Ligustilide, ferulic acid, and others. (1) [span class=alert]

This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]

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. (2) It has also been used in the treatment of allergies and for smooth muscle spasms.

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.

Uses

Frequently Reported Uses

  • Amenorrhea
  • Phytoestrogenic
  • PMS
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Menopausal And Postmenopausal Complaints And Imbalances
  • Menstrual Irregularities
  • Cardiovascular Support (Angioplasty, Angina, Bypass)
Other Reported Uses
  • Anemia
  • Hypertension

 

Toxicities & Precautions

General

No known toxicity. (3)

Health Conditions

This dietary supplement should not be used during hemorrhagic disease or bleeding disorder, excess menses or in severe flu. (4)

Caution if GI distress is present. (5)

Medical and scientific evidence indicates that constituents contained in this dietary supplement have estrogenic activity. Until further research is performed, concern is warranted when recommending this dietary supplement to individuals who are susceptible to hormonally related cancers or who have a history of estrogen positive cancers.

Photosensitivity

May also increase sensitivity to sunlight. (6)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

Use with caution in pregnancy or nursing.

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Pharmacology

Dong quai is rich in phytoestrogens. (7) , (8) Phytoestrogens have a weaker effect on binding sites than do their drug counterparts. During PMS when estrogen levels are elevated, phytoestrogens bind to estrogen-binding sites, leaving the endogenous estrogen to be metabolized by the liver and thus reducing overall excess estrogenic effects. When estrogen levels are low, as in the case of menopause, phytoestrogens bind to estrogen-binding sites, activating the receptor site in a milder fashion than drug counterparts. There are a few conflicting reports about dong quai’s direct estrogenic effects. However, it is has been used for generations in females who report better results and fewer adverse affects than with prescription estrogen replacement products.

Dong quai is generally considered when evaluating options for relieving the symptoms of menopause. 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 (9) whereas another stated it was no more helpful than placebo in treating menopausal symptoms. (10) Reviews of the medical literature question the benefit of dong quai in treating menopausal symptoms as well. (11) , (12) , (13) One study even noted that dong quai stimulated cell growth of a specific type of breast cancer. (14) Dong quai should be avoided in women with estrogen fed cancers until further information is gathered regarding its estrogenic activity.

In addition to the phytoestrogenic effects of dong quai, it also reportedly dilates blood vessels which may exert an antihypertensive effect. (15) , (16) It is believed that dong quai also regulates immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies and exerts an immunomodulating effect on the body by enhancing white blood cell activity. (17) , (18) Dong quai also reportedly promotes circulatory activity and has blood building properties, while reducing the viscosity of the blood. (19) , (20)

References

  1. Lin M, et al. Chemical Studies of Angelica sinensis. Yao Hsueh Hsueh Pao. 1979;14(9):529-34.
  2. View Abstract: Zhu DPQ. Dong Quai. Am J Chin Med. 1987;15(3-4):117-25.
  3. McKenna DJ, ed. Natural Supplements. St Croix, MN: INPR; 1998.
  4. Northrup C. The Menopause Center. Meno Times. San Rafael, CA. 1995.
  5. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:28-30.
  6. Murray MT. The Healing Power of Herbs: The enlightened Person's Guide to the Wonders of Medicinal Plants. New York, NY: Prima Publishing; 1995:43-49.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. View Abstract: Willhite LA, O'Connell MB. Urogenital atrophy: prevention and treatment. Pharmacotherapy. Apr2001;21(4):464-80.
  12. View Abstract: Hardy ML. Herbs of special interest to women. J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash). Mar2000;40(2):234-42.
  13. View Abstract: Shaw CR. The perimenopausal hot flash: epidemiology, physiology, and treatment. Nurse Pract. Mar1997;22(3):55-6, 61-6.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.