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 years.
Use in traditional Chinese medicine
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.
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.
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.
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. However, this claim lacks evidence of effectiveness in human clinical trials.
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. Taking A. sinensis can cause skin to become extra sensitive to the sun, leading to a greater risk for skin cancer. One case of gynaecomastia has been reported following consumption of dong quai root powder pills. Large and prolonged doses of the plant is not advised as it contains compounds that are considered carcinogenic.
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.
The plant's chemical constituents include of coumarins, phytosterols, polysaccharides, ferulate, and flavonoids. When isolated from the plant, one of the chemicals, angelica polysaccharide sulfate, has in vitro antioxidant activity.
- Chinese herbology
- Scutellaria baicalensis (Baikal skullcap)
- Eleutherococcus senticosus or Siberian ginseng
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- 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.
- Wang, Kaiping; Cao, Peng; Shui, Weizhi; Yang, Qiuxiang; Tang, Zhuohong; Zhang, Yu (19 Jan 2015). "Angelica sinensis polysaccharide regulates glucose and lipid metabolism disorder in prediabetic and streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice through the elevation of glycogen levels and reduction of inflammatory factors". FOOD & FUNCTION 6 (3): 902-909. doi:10.1039/c4fo00859f.
- Jung, S. M.; Schumacher, H. R.; Kim, H.; Kim, M.; Lee, S. H.; Pessler, F. (2007). "Reduction of Urate Crystal-Induced Inflammation by Root Extracts from Traditional Oriental Medicinal Plants: Elevation of Prostaglandin D2 Levels". Arthritis Research & Therapy 9 (4): R64. doi:10.1186/ar2222. PMC 2206389. PMID 17612394. - Considers anti-inflammatory properties of dried roots from the species Angelica sinensis (Dong Quai), Acanthopanax senticosus (now known as Eleutherococcus senticosus, or Siberian Ginseng), and Scutellaria baicalensis (Baikal Skullcap).
- Angelica sinensis List of Chemicals (Dr. Duke's Databases)
- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food
- Angelica Sinensis (Oliv.) Diels. Medicinal Plant Images Database (School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University) (traditional Chinese)
- 當歸, Dang Gui, Chinese Angelica Chinese Medicine Specimen Database (School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University) (traditional Chinese)