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Dong Quai

  • Angelica sinensis L.
  • Angelica polymorpha L.
  • Umbelliferae
  • Umbel family

Common Names

herbsChoraka (Sanskrit name)
herbsDang qui (Chinese name)
herbsTang-kuei (Chinese name)

Parts Usually Used


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

There are many varieties of wild angelicas growing in the mountains throughout North America. One of these, A. brewerii, found in the California Sierras, is a promising substitute for dong quai.

The common garden angelica (A. archangelica) has the emmenagogue blood-moving properties of dong quai, but lacks the degree of sweetness necessary for tonics as dong quai has.

The stubby whitish-gray roots are usually from 2-4 inches long and have a very distinctive pungent odor.

Medicinal Properties

Blood tonic, emmenagogue, sedative, analgesic, laxative, tonic, diaphoretic, antispasmodic

Biochemical Information

Alcohols, cadinene, carotene, carvacrol, isosafrol, 0.2-0.3% essential oil, safrol, sesquierpenes, 40% sucrose, and vitamins A, B12, and E.

Legends, Myths and Stories

The power to prolong life is among the virtues Orientals attribute to ginseng root. Although ginseng may be taken by both men and women, Chinese healers regard it primarily as a "man's herb" whereas the female equivalent of ginseng is a root called dong quai.

The best quality of Chinese dong quai root has a strong pungent aroma and taste. Korean dong quai is very mild and can be taken more often during the day. Only the hips of the root, up to the head, are in general use. The upper half is considered a great blood builder. The tails of the root are used under the direction of Chinese herbalists for emergency purposes only, to dissolve blood clots resulting from serious accidents and for expelling afterbirth that is difficult to deliver.

Dong quai has been used in China for ages. The Chinese claim it has remarkable powers for nourishing female glands, rebuilding blood, and helping to delay the symptoms of old age in women.

One of the most widely used herbs in the Orient, dong quai duck is a popular Cantonese dish.


Dong quai has been named the "female ginseng". It is an all-purpose herb for a wide range of female complaints.

Used in the treatment of female problems such as hot flashes, menopause, PMS, and vaginal dryness. It helps women to resume normal menses after going off "the pill." Increases the effect of ovarian/testicular hormones. Treats all gynecological complaints; it regulates menstruation and treats dysmenorrhea, and amenorrhea. It reduces high blood pressure and is good for tinnitus caused by blood weakness, blurred vision and palpitations. It promotes blood circulation and thus relieves the pain of injuries. May prevent anemia; is a blood tonic for both men and women. Used for dryness of the bowels causing constipation, colds, flu, arthritis, rheumatic pain.

Formulas or Dosages

It is essential that the roots be stored in a dry place, otherwise they tend to soften and spoil. A good quality of dong quai and the Chinese method used for preparing the herb results in a potent beverage. Therefore, the Chinese women use it only once or twice a month. Since the herb is also regarded as a blood builder, Chinese healers recommend that for conditions of anemia the herb broth should be taken more often until the blood becomes normal, and thereafter only once or twice a month (for nourishing the female glands).

Place 4 cups of water in a large Pyrex or enamelware container. Do not use aluminum; even stainless steel may not be used for this particular herb. Add a few pieces of lean raw chicken or beef and one small dong quai root, or half of a large one. Cover loosely and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then allow the herb broth to cook slowly for several hours or until the liquid is reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Strain and drink the broth warm.

Infusion: 1 oz. root simmered in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes along with a little fresh ginger. Take 1 day per week as a uterine tonic.

Nutrient Content

Carotene, sucrose, minerals and vitamins A, B12, and E.

How Sold

Available in most health food stores and herb shops.

Capsules: take 1 capsule for up to 3 times a day.



Avoid use during pregnancy and if there is bloating, abdominal congestion and conditions caused by wasting. If menses is a heavy flow, avoid dong quai.

Avoid if hypertensive.

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