Angelica sinensis

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Angelica sinensis
Dongquai cr.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Angelica
Species: A. sinensis
Binomial name
Angelica sinensis
(Oliv.) Diels[1]
  • Angelica omeiensis C.Q.Yuan & R.H.Shan
  • Angelica wilsonii H.Wolff

Angelica sinensis, commonly known as dong quai or "female ginseng" is a herb from the family Apiaceae, indigenous to China. Angelica sinensis grows in cool high altitude mountains in China, Japan, and Korea. The yellowish brown root of the plant is harvested in fall and is a well-known Chinese medicine used over thousands of years.[3]


Use in traditional Chinese medicine[edit]

The dried root of A. sinensis is commonly known as Chinese angelica (simplified Chinese: 当归; traditional Chinese: 當歸; pinyin: dāngguī; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: tong-kui) and is widely used in Chinese traditional medicine for women's health, cardiovascular conditions, osteoarthrosis, inflammation, headache, infections, mild anemia, fatigue and high blood pressure despite a lack of clinical data and trials showing effectiveness in humans.[4][5]

Dong quai is used for menopause vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes. However, in a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial shows that dong quai is no more effective than placebo.[6][7]

Potential anti-osteoporotic effects of dong quai independent of any estrogen mechanism were evaluated in rat models which showed that the extract of A. sinensis may prevent the bone loss. However, more high quality human evidence is needed to confirm same anti-osteoporotic effects of dong quai in humans.[8]

Dong quai contains a chemical compound called butylidenephthalide which has antispasmodic activity in vitro and might relieve dysmenorrhoea muscle cramps by relaxing the uterus muscle.[9] However, this claim lacks evidence of effectiveness in human clinical trials.

Overall, the U.S. National Library of Medicine states that more evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of dong quai for most uses.[5]

Adverse effects[edit]

There is evidence that A. sinensis may affect the muscles of the uterus. Women who are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant should not use A. sinensis, because it may induce a miscarriage.[5] Taking A. sinensis can cause skin to become extra sensitive to the sun, leading to a greater risk for skin cancer.[5] One case of gynaecomastia has been reported following consumption of dong quai root powder pills.[10] Large and prolonged doses of the plant is not advised as it contains compounds that are considered carcinogenic.[5]

Drug interactions[edit]

A. sinensis may increase the anticoagulant effects of the drug warfarin and consequently increase the risk of bleeding.[11]

Due to the antiplatelet and anticoagulant effects of A. sinensis, it should be taken with caution with herbs or supplements that may slow blood clotting such as ginkgo, garlic, and ginger to reduce the possible risk of bleeding and bruising.[5][12]


The plant's chemical constituents include of coumarins, phytosterols, polysaccharides, ferulate, and flavonoids.[13] When isolated from the plant, one of the chemicals, angelica polysaccharide sulfate, has in vitro antioxidant activity.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels". NPGS / GRIN. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 7 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "Dong quai". University of Maryland Medical Center. 
  4. ^ "Angelica sinensis / Dong Quai". Golden Lotus Botanicals. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Dong Quai". Medline Plus. NIH. 
  6. ^ Hajirahimkhan, Atieh (May 2013). "Botanical Modulation of Menopausal Symptoms: Mechanisms of Action?". Planta Med 79 (7): 538–53. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1328187. PMID 23408273. 
  7. ^ Hirata, Janie D (Dec 1997). "Does dong quai have estrogenic effects in postmenopausal women? A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.". Fertil Steril 68 (6): 981–6. doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(97)00397-x. PMID 9418683. 
  8. ^ Lim, Dong Wook (Oct 2014). "Anti-Osteoporotic Effects of Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels Extract on Ovariectomized Rats and Its Oral Toxicity in Rats.". Nutrients 6 (10): 4362–72. doi:10.3390/nu6104362. PMID 25325255. 
  9. ^ WC, Ko (Feb 1980). "A newly isolated antispasmodic--butylidenephthalide". Jpn J Pharmacol 30 (1): 85–91. PMID 7401411. 
  10. ^ Goh, S. Y.; Loh, K. C. (2001). "Gynaecomastia and the Herbal Tonic Dong Quai". Singapore Medical Journal 42 (3): 115–116. PMID 11405562. 
  11. ^ Page, R. L.; Lawrence, J. D. (1999). "Potentiation of Warfarin by Dong Quai". Pharmacotherapy 19 (7): 870–876. doi:10.1592/phco.19.10.870.31558. PMID 10417036. 
  12. ^ HH, Tsai (2013). "A review of potential harmful interactions between anticoagulant/antiplatelet agents and Chinese herbal medicines". PLoS One 8 (5): e64255. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064255. PMID 23671711. 
  13. ^ Zhao, K. J.; Dong, T. T.; Tu, P. F.; Song, Z. H.; Lo, C. K.; Tsim, K. W. (2003). "Molecular Genetic and Chemical Assessment of Radix Angelica (Danggui) in China". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 51 (9): 2576–2583. doi:10.1021/jf026178h. PMID 12696940. 
  14. ^ Jia, M.; Yang, T. H.; Yao, X. J.; Meng, J.; Meng, J. R.; Mei, Q. B. (2007). 当归多聚糖硫酸盐的抗氧化作用 [Anti-oxidative effect of Angelica polysaccharide sulphate]. Zhong Yao Cai (in Chinese) 30 (2): 185–188. PMID 17571770. 

Further reading[edit]

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