Dong quai - Angelica sinensis (in the Umbelliferae or Parsley family)
Part used: Root.
Taste/smell: Sweet, bitter, slightly pungent.
Tendencies: Warming, moistening, stimulating.
Dosage: Decoction: 1 heaping teaspoon per cup of water; or 1:4 dry liquid extract: 10-60 drops 1-4 times per day.
Mental picture and specific indications: Dong quai is beneficial for gynecological complaints with spasms and pain, chills, dryness of skin, constipation due to dryness and uterine or ovarian masses. It is also indicated for congestion in the pelvic region.
Use: (a) Warming female tonic, (b) Enriches the blood, (c) Promotes blood circulation, (d) Regulates and normalizes menstruation and the menstrual cycle, (e) Mild laxative, (f) Diuretic, (g) Sedative, (h) Hepatoprotectant, (i) Anti-inflammatory, (j) Analgesic, (k) Antibacterial, (l) Hypotensive, (m) Calcium channel blocker, (n) Antispasmodic, (o) Stimulate the uterus if the volatile oil is decocted off and an antispasmodic if made as a proper infusion with the volatile oil intact or as a liquid extract.
Experiments have shown dong quai stimulates uterine cell multiplication. It is beneficial with gynecological problems, including PMS, cramps, menopausal-related symptoms, uterine bleeding due to stagnation and chronic pelvic infections. It is also indicated for constipation, headache due to blood deficiency, thrombosis, anemia, vasculitis, arthritis, sciatica and chronic bronchitis.
Concerning the cardiovascular system, it strengthens heart contractility while decreasing the rate of contractions, acts as an anti-arrhythmic, dilates coronary blood vessels, increases coronary blood flow and dilates peripheral blood vessels. With hypertension, dong quai initially raises the blood pressure, followed by a decline.
Dong quai's constituents include vitamin B12 and E, biotin, nicotinic acid, folic acid and folinic acid.
Contraindications: Due to furocoumarin content, it is contraindicated when taking blood-thinning agents. The furocoumarins also sensitize the skin to the sun and can increase the chance of sunburn. 11 Since it is a uterine vasodilatory, it may worsen heavy clotted menses. It may also aggravate gastroesophageal reflux due to the gastric stimulating effects. This herb is best used in 'cold, dry and stagnant' conditions and is contraindicated in conditions associated with 'heat' signs or symptoms. Dong quai is contraindicated in pregnancy unless under the guidance of a qualified health care professional.