Ginseng has many varieties and offers many health benefits. Perhaps, the most widely known benefit of ginseng is its sexual-enhancing property. However, most ginseng varieties tend to favor men but Dong Quai, a variety of ginseng offers feminine health benefits.
What is Dong Quai?
Dong Quai is one of the most popular Chinese herbs1. It also has other names such as Angelica sinensis, Angelica polymorpha var. sinensis, Chinese angelica, Dang gui, Toki, Danguia, and Angelica china.
Just like other varieties of ginseng, the root of Dong Quai is the primary source of beneficial compounds. Generally, the root of Dong Quai is used as an aqueous extract. In other cases, the root is dried and ground into a fine powder and put into a capsule or pill form.
It is also possible to use Dong Quai for topical application. Although Dong Quai grows in many parts of the globe, its roots can be traced back to the Gansu Province in China.
As a matter of fact, earlier use of Dong Quai dates back to 400 BCE. Still today, Don Quai is still widely used particularly for women’s health.
Dong Quai contains over 70 compounds2 including;
- Ferulic acid – anti-inflammatory and immunostimulatory
- Z-ligustilide – anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and beneficial for cardiovascular health
- Butylidenephthalide – protective against liver damage, neuroprotective, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory
- Polysaccharides3 – beneficial for digestive function
Why It’s Called The Female Ginseng?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dong Quai is used to improve blood circulation. Particularly, it is helpful for women with menstrual problems like PMS(premenstrual syndrome) and cramping. It is also useful for women with irregular periods, perhaps, due to a weak uterus.
Moreover, Dong Quai also promotes hormonal balance and may particularly help congestive fertility problems.
Furthermore, studies found Dong Quai feminine health benefits. However, this one particular study back in 2006 was only conducted on animal subjects. One study, in particular, found that Dong Quai may have an estrogenic effect on rats, which may help in the regulation of hormone levels and alleviate symptoms of menopause4.
An earlier study also found that Dong Quai medicinal property along with chamomile is helpful in easing hot flashes in postmenopausal women5.
Moreover, studies also found that Dong Quai, when combined with other herbs such as licorice, corydalis, and white peony, is good for easing dysmenorrhea6.
Traditional Uses of Dong Quai On Women’s Health
For centuries, Traditional Chinese Medicine used Dong Quai to regulate menstruation in women. Here are some of the traditional uses of Dong Quai;
- Amenorrhea or abnormal absence of menstruation
- Blood deficiencies
- Female reproductive tonic
- Menstrual pains
- Tonic for women with fatigue or low vitality
- Uterine disorders
Traditionally, tea can be made out of Dong Quai. The root can also be chewed until the juice is released and then swallowed.
More Health Benefits of Dong Quai
The beneficial effect of Dong Quai goes beyond women’s health. In fact, Dong Quai can be beneficial for men, as well. Here are other health benefits of Dong Quai;
1. Reduce inflammation
One study was investigating the anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effect of Dong Quai in which researchers combined Dong Quai with Sophora extract. The researchers found that is efficient in decreasing the levels of various inflammatory markers.
2. Promote heart health
A 2000 study at the Chinese Medical Journal found that Dong Quai along with Huang Qi, which is also a plant lower triglycerides levels, LDL(low-density lipoproteins) and VLDL(very low-density lipoproteins) in rats7.
3. Regulate blood sugar levels
One study8 in 2015 found that mice given with purified polysaccharides out of fresh Dong Quai root have lower fasting blood glucose. It also reduces insulin resistance. The study lasted for a month.
4. Promote bone health
Estrogen is more than just a reproductive hormone. It also regulates bone formation and protects bone cells from breaking down9. In 2014, a study found that Dong Quai has anti-osteoporotic effects in rats, which means it helps in minimizing bone loss10.
Therefore, before taking it, consult your doctor. If planning to take it through supplement form, always read the label particularly the dosage and other important instructions.
As always, you better consult with your healthcare provider or your doctor before taking this herb. Ask recommendations and potential side-effects to note.
And, as always, read the label meticulously especially the fine print as it may contain special instructions.