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Dong Quai

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S):Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels, synonymous with A. polymorpha var. sinensis Oliv.
Family:Apiaceae (carrot family)

COMMON NAME(S): Dong quai, danggui, tang-kuei, Chinese angelica

Dong Quai is an aromatic chinese herbal remedy made from the root of angelica sinensis, which is growing at high altitudes in China, Korea and Japan. The root has a strong smell and a sweet taste. The flowers of dong quai are greenish-white.

Dong quai contains vitamins E, A and B12. Researchers have isolated at least six coumarin derivatives that exert antispasmodic and vasodilatory effects. Antispasmodics are a remedy for menstrual cramps. The essential oil in dong quai contains Ligustilide, butylphthalide and numerous other minor components.

History

Dong quai is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine and continues to be popular in China and elsewhere. It is used to treat menstrual disorders, as an analgesic in rheumatism, and in suppressing allergy symptoms. It is promoted for similar uses in the American herb market

Botany :- Three species of Angelica are monographed separately in the Chinese Pharmacopeia: Dong quai, the root of Angelica sinensis; Bai zi, the root of Angelica dahurica (Fisch.) Benth. et. Hook. f. or A. dahurica var.formosana (Boiss.) Shan et Yuan; and Du huo, the root of A. pubescens Maxim. f. biser­rata Shan et Yuan.) In Korea, A. gigas Nakai is used medicinally, while in Japan, A. acutiloba Kitagawa is used. The European A. archangelic L. is used to flavor liqueurs and confections. While botanically related, do not confuse the various species of Angelica, which differ in chemistry, pharmacology, and toxicology. A molecular biology study of A. acutiloba may lead to efficient methods for distinguishing raw materials.

Uses of Dong Quai

Traditionally used as an analgesic for rheumatism, an allergy suppressant, and in the treatment of menstrual disorders, dong quai has been shown to possess antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and anticoagulant properties. It has also been used to flavor liqueurs and confections.

Other conditions for which dong quai has been used clinically, although studies are still lacking:

  • Constipation
  • Migraine headache
  • Pain
  • Liver disorders

Drug Interactions: : The possibility of dong quai interactions with warfarin has been postulated and is supported by at least 1 report. Possible synergism with calcium channel blockers may occur.

Side Effects of Dong Quai

Dong quai, particularly at high doses, may increase an individual's sensitivity to sunlight and subsequently cause skin inflammation and rashes. People taking dong quai should minimize their exposure to sunlight or use sunscreen while taking the herb.

Dosage

The powdered root can be used in capsules or tablets. Women may take 3-4 grams daily in three divided applications. Alternatively, 3-5 ml of tincture may be taken three times per day.

Toxicology

Coumarins are the focus of toxicology in Angelica. Furanocoumarins such as bergapten and psoralen have been widely studied for their photoactivated toxicity; however, only A. gigas (Korean angelica) has beea demonstrated to cause photodermatitis. Clearly the risk of phototoxicity should be correlated with the content of specific toxic furocoumarins. In the case of A. sinensis, there appears to be little risk, but with A. gigas, A. dahurica, and A. pubescens, there is a very reasonable cause for caution. Possible synergism with calcium channel blockers may occur. Angelica archangelica L. is reported to be an abortifacient and to affect the menstrual cycle. A. sinensis: has uterine stimulant activity.

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