Chinese Angelica

This genus of about 50 biennials and perennials is native to temperate parts of the northern hemisphere. Angelica is from the medieval Latin herba angelica, "angelic herb", from a belief that it would protect against evil and cure all ills. Its connection with the Feast of the Annunciation and the Archangel Michael may indicate pagan origins, taken over into Christian customs. Angelica archangelica became popular in Europe during the 15th century and was rated as the most important of all medicinal herbs by Parkinson (Paradisi in Sole, 1629). Angelica polymorpha var. sinensis (commonly referred to as A. sinensis) was first recorded in Chinese medicine in about CE200. Known as dong quai or dang gui, it is probably the most important Chinese tonic after ginseng and is an ingredient of many Chinese patent medicines in Hong Kong. San Francisco, and Singapore, as well as in China. A number of other angelicas are used in similar ways throughout the world, including, A. atropurpurea, American angelica; the European wild angelica, A. sylvestris; the Chinese A. anomala, A. keiskei, and A. pubescens; and the Indian A. glauca. The tonic properties are thought to be highest in A. glauca and A. polymorpha var. sinensis. Known as choraka in Ayurvedic medicine, angelicas of various kinds are often combined with Asparagus racemosus (see shatavari). All angelicas contain furanocoumarins, which increase skin photosensitivity and may cause dermatitis.

Widely used in China to regulate estrogen levels, dong quai has hormonelike compounds that appear to relieve menstrual disorders and ease the symptoms of menopause. The name "dong quai" (actually "dang gui") means "to return". It is said that a woman who is feeling irritable and doesn't want to be near her husband should take this herb; once she feels better, she will want to return to him. Preliminary scientific research has suggested that dong quai may reduce blood pressure, inhibit certain kinds of irregular heartbeat, protect against clogging of the arteries, combat pain and inflammation, and encourage the death of tumor cells.

Perennial with a short rhizome, upright stems, and pinnately-divided, gray-green, often purple-flushed leaves, 20-30cm (8-12in)long. Greenish flowers are produced in umbels in late summer, followed by elliptic, notched seeds.

Common Name:
Chinese Angelica
Other Names:
Dang-Gui, Dong Quai, Tang-Gui, Tang-Kuei, Women's Ginseng.
Botanical Name:
A. polymorpha var.sinensis syn. A. sinensis.
Native Location:
E. Asia
Rich, moist soil in sun or partial shade. Removing the flower heads before seed develops will prolong the life of short-lived species. The flowers attract many beneficial insects that prey on garden pests.
By seed sown in situ in autumn or spring. Seed is viable for one year only but most plants tend to self-seed readily.
Roots are lifted in autumn, leaves gathered before flowering, and seeds harvested as they ripen; all are dried for decoctions. Stalks of A. archangelica are cut in early summer.
Skin Allergen
75cm-1.5m (2½-5ft)
38-90cm (15-36in)
Less than five years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find dong quai (in any form) in the United States except in a few specialty herb shops, neighborhood Asian markets, and the clinics of Chinese herbal medicine practitioners. The herb still makes infrequent appearances in recent herb books—except as a side note in a discussion of its Western cousins European Angelica (A. archangelica) and American Angelica (A. atropurpurea), which have different therapeutic properties. In the last few years, however, the extraordinary and every-growing interest in herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine has put dong quai on the herbal map. Today it is widely available, especially in capsules and teas, in your neighborhood supermarket and pharmacy. The dried root and tinctures made from the root are also easier to find. And for good reason.
Among the hundreds of medicinal herbs that are the foundation of Chinese herbal medicine's 6,000 year old history, dong quai reigns supreme as one of the greatest of the restorative and regulating herbal tonics—right alongside ginseng and schizandra. Moreover, it is considered the greatest of the "female" tonics in the East or West. In China, millions of women use dong quai every day to regulate hormone levels and menstrual periods, strengthen the reproductive organs, treat the symptoms of menopause, promote healthy blood circulation, and fight illness and fatigue. Now, may Western women are doing the same. What's more, researchers have found that dong quai possesses a host of other therapeutic properties.
Parts Used:
Roots (dong quai)
A bittersweet, aromatic herb that acts primarily as a tonic, especially for the female reproductive system and liver. It is also a mild laxative, sedative, and painkiller, with some anti-bacterial activity.
III The Empress
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for menstrual, post-partum, and menopausal complaints, and anemia. Not given to pregnant women. Also used as an injection into acupuncture points, for painful injury, neuralgia, angina, and arthritis. Chicken soup with angelica root is a popular Chinese folk remedy after childbirth. An ingredient of the popular tonic shou wu chih. To treat symptoms of menopause, asthma, irregular heartbeat, bronchitis, infections, infertility, and kidney and liver disorders.
Dong quai has analgesic, blood-nourishing, calming, circulation-stimulating, pain-relieving, and sedating properties. It is also a general regulating and restorative tonic. Dong quai normalizes, nourishes, and supports all the organs of the body, particularly those of the circulatory, nervous, and reproductive systems. It increases stamina and energy levels, balances hormone function, tones and strengthens the reproductive organs, and stimulates healthy blood circulation. Clinical studies confirm that Dong quai also lowers blood pressure, normalizes blood sugar levels, relaxes the heart muscle, and slows the pulse rate. Additionally it helps the body absorb and effectively utilize vitamin E.
Dong quai is prescribed to treat anemia, constipation, fatigue, general debilitation, heart palpitations, hormone imbalances, insomnia, low energy, menstrual irregularities, poor blood circulation, and many of the symptoms of menopause, especially exhaustion and poor sleep patterns.
Dong quai is easiest to take—and widely available—in capsule form, which several reputable manufacturers make in the appropriate doses. Follow the directions on the label. If you are interested in making your own fresh decoction from the root, it's important that you use high-quality, fresh root stock. Consult a qualified herbal practitioner about where to find the best dong quai root and how to use it. In China, dong quai is boiled, chopped and added to soups and vegetable dishes.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of dong quai may range from 1 to 2 gm of powdered root taken three times a day; or, in tincture form, 5 to 20 drops of 1:5 concentration taken up to three times a day.
Do not take this herb if you are pregnant or trying to conceive. Avoid using dong quai if you have abdominal bloating, a blood-clotting disorder, diarrhea, or heavy menstrual periods.
Possible Side Effects:
Dong Quai's side effects include gastrointestinal disturbances, fever and increased bleeding.
Drug Interactions:
Taking dong quai with these drugs may increase the risk of bleeding and bruising:
Abciximab, (ReoPro)
Alteplase, (Activase, Cathflo Activase)
Antithrombin III, (Thrombate III)
Argatroban, (Argatroban)
Aspirin, (Bufferin, Ecotrin)
Aspirin and Dipyridamole, (Aggrenox)
Bivalirudin, (Angiomax)
Celecoxib, (Celebrex)
Choline Magnesium Trysalicylate, (Trilisate)
Clopidogrel, (Plavix)
Dalteparin, (Fragmin)
Danaparoid, (Orgaran)
Diclofenac, (Cataflam, Voltaren)
Diflunisal, (Apo-Diflunisal, Dolobid)
Dipyridamole, (Novo-Dipradol, Persantine)
Drotrecogin Alfa, (Xigris)
Enoxaprin, (Lovenox)
Eptifibatide, (Integrillin)
Etodolac, (Lodine, Utradol)
Fenoprofen, (Nalfon)
Flurbiprofen, (Ansaid, Ocufen)
Fondaparinux, (Arixtra)
Heparin, (Hepalean, Hep-Lock)
Hydrocodone and Aspirin, (Damason-P)
Hydrocodone and Ibuprofen, (Vicoprofen)
Ibritumomab, (Zevalin)
Ibuprofen, (Advil, Motril)
Indobufen, (Ibustrin)
Indomethacin, (Indocin, Novo-Methacin)
Ketoprofen, (Orudis, Rhodis)
Ketorolac, (Acular, Toradol)
Lepirudin, (Refludan)
Meloxicam, (MOBIC, Mobicox)
Nabumetone, (Apo-Nabumetone, Relefan)
Nadroparin, (Fraxiparine)
Naproxen, (Aleve, Naprosyn)
Oxaprozin, (Apo-Oxaprozin, Daypro)
Piroxicam, (Feldene, Nu-Pirox)
Reteplase, (Retavase)
Rofecoxib, (Vioxx)
Salsalate, (Amgesic, Salflex)
Streptokinase, (Streptase)
Sulindac, (Clinoril, Nu-Sundac)
Tenecteplase, (TNKase)
Tiaprofenic Acid, (Dom-Tiaprofenic, Surgam)
Ticlopidine, (Alti-Ticlopidine, Ticlid)
Tinzaparin, (Innohep)
Tirofiban, (Aggrastat)
Tolmetin, (Tolectin)
Urokinase, (Abbokinase)
Valdecoxib, (Bextra)
Warfarin, (Coumadin, Jantoven)
Taking dong quai with these drugs may enhance the drug's therapeutic and/or adverse effects:
Acebutolol, (Novo-Acebutolol, Sectral)
Amiodarone, (Cordarone, Pacerone)
Atenolol, (Apo-Atenol, Tenormin)
Benazepril, (Lotensin)
Bepridil, (Vascor)
Betaxolol, (Betoptic S, Kerlone)
Bisoprolol, (Monocor, Zebeta)
Bumetanide, (Bumex, Burinex)
Candesartan, (Atacand)
Captopril, (Capoten, Novo-Captopril)
Carteolol, (Cartrol, Occupress)
Carvedilol, (Coreg)
Cilazapril, (Inhibace)
Clonidine, (Catapres, Duraclon)
Cyproterone and Ethinyl Estradiol, (Diane-35)
Diltiazem, (Cardizem, Tiazac)
Doxazosin, (Alti-Doxazosin, Cardura)
Enalapril, (Vasotec)
Eprosartan, (Teveten)
Estradiol, (Climara, Estrace)
Estrogens (Conjugated A/Synthetic), (Cenestin)
Estrogens (Conjugated/Equine), (Cenestin, Premarin)
Estrogens (Esterified), (Estratab, Menest)
Estropipate, (Ogen, Ortho-Est)
Ethinyl Estradiol, (Estinyl)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Ethynodiol Diacetate, (Demulen, Zovia)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Etonogestrel, (NuvaRing)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Levonorgestrel, (Alesse, Triphasil)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Norethindrone, (Brevicon, Ortho-Novum)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestimate, (Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen)
Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestrel, (Cryselle, Ovral)
Felodipine, (Plendil, Renedil)
Fosfomycin, (Monurol)
Furosemide, (Apo-Furosemide, Lasix)
Hydralazine, (Apresoline, Novo-Hylazin)
Hydrochlorothiazide, (Apo-Hydro, Microzide)
Indapamide, (Lozol, Nu-Indapamide)
Irbesartan, (Avapro)
Isradipine, (DynaCirc)
Labetalol, (Normodyne, Trandate)
Lisinopril, (Prinivil, Zestril)
Losartan, (Cozaar)
Metolazone, (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn)
Metoprolol, (Betaloc, Lopressor)
Moexipril, (Univasc)
Nadolol, (Apo-Nadol, Corgard)
Nicardipine, (Cardene)
Nifedipine, (Adalat CC, Procardia)
Nimodipine, (Nimotop)
Nisoldipine, (Sular)
Norgestrel, (Ovrette)
Oxprenolol, (Slow-Trasicor, Trasicor)
Perindopril Erbumine, (Aceon, Coversyl)
Pindolol, (Apo-Pindolol, Novo-Pindol)
Prazosin, (Minipress, Nu-Prazo)
Propanolol, (Inderal, InnoPran XL)
Quinapril, (Accupril)
Ramipril, (Altace)
Telmisartan, (Micardis)
Terazosin, (Hytrin, Novo-Terazosin)
Torsemide, (Demadex)
Trandolapril, (Mavik)
Valsartan, (Diovan)
Verapamil, (Calan, Isoptin SR)
Taking dong quai with these drugs may alter/interfere with the action of the drug, and is best avoided by those with estrogen-dependent tumors:
Anastrozole, (Arimidex)
Carbocysteine, (Mucopront, Rhinatiol)
Cisplatin, (Platinol-AQ)
Cyclophosphamide, (Cytoxan, Neosar)
Doxorubicin, (Adriamycin, Rubex)
Epirubicin, (Ellence, Pharmorubicin)
Exemestane, (Aromasin)
Fluorouracil, (Adrucil, Efudex)
Megestrol, (Lin-Megestrol, Megace)
Mitomycin, (Mutamycin)
Mitoxantrone, (Novantrone)
Paclitaxel, (Onxol, Taxol)
Tamoxifen, (Nolvadex, Tamofen)
Thiotepa, (Thioplex)
Vinblastine, (Velban)
Taking dong quai with these drugs may increase skin sensitivity to sunlight:
Beraxotene, (Targretin)
Bumetanide, (Bumex, Burinex)
Celecoxib, (Celebrex)
Chlorpromazine, (Thorazine)
Ciprofloxacin, (Ciloxan, Cipro)
Dacarbazine, (DTIC, DTIC-Dome)
Demeclocycline, (Declomycin)
Doxycycline, (Apo-Doxy, Vibramycin)
Enalapril, (Vasotec)
Etodolac, (Lodine, Utradol)
Fluocinonole, Hydroquinone, and Tretinoin, (Tri-Luma)
Fluphenazine, (Modecate, Prolixin)
Fosinopril, (Monopril)
Furosemide, (Apo-Furosemide, Lasix)
Gatifloxacin, (Tequin, Zymar)
Gemifloxacin, (Factive)
Hydrochlorothiazide, (Apo-Hydro, Microzide)
Hydrochlorothiazide and Triamterene, (Dyazide, Maxzide)
Ibuprofen, (Advil, Motrin)
Isotretinoin, (Accutane, Caravis)
Ketoprofen, (Orudis, Rhodis)
Ketorolac, (Acular, Toradol)
Lanzoprazole, (Prevacid)
Levofloxacin, (Maxaquin)
Loratadine, (Alavert, Claritin)
Methotrexate, (Rheumatrix, Trexall)
Methotrimeprazine, (Novo-Meprazine, Nozain)
Metolazone, (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn)
Minocycline, (Dynacin, Minocin)
Naproxen, (Aleve, Naprosyn)
Nortriptyline, (Aventyl HCl, Pamelor)
Ofloxacin, (Floxin, Ocuflox)
Olanzapine, (Zydis, Zyprexa)
Omeprazole, (Losec, Prilosec)
Phenytoin, (Dilantin, Phenytek)
Piroxicam, (Feldene, Nu-Pirox)
Prochlorperazine, (Compazine, Compro)
Quinapril, (Accupril)
Risperidone, (Risperdal)
Rofecoxib, (Vioxx)
Sparfloxacin, (Zagam)
Sulfadiazine, (Microsulfon)
Sulfamethoxazole and Trimethoprim, (Bactrim, Septra)
Sulfasalazine, (Alti-Sulfasalazine, Azulfidine)
Sulfinpyrazone, (Apo-Sulfinpyrazone, Nu-Sulfinpyrazone)
Sulfisoxazole, (Gantrisin)
Tetracycline, (Novo-Tetra, Sumycin)
Thioridazine, (Mellaril)
Trentinoin, Oral, (Vesanoid)
Trifluoperazine, (Novo-Trifluzine, Stelazine)
Trovaflaxacin, (Trovan)
Zuclopenthixol, (Clopixol)
Lab Test Alterations:
May increase prothrombin time (PT) and plasma international normalized ratio (INR) in those who are also taking warfarin.
Supplement Interactions:
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. Pg 122
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pp.188-191
The Herbal Tarot by Michael Tierra, Herbalist and Candis Cantin, Artist Copyright©1988 U.S Games Systems Inc. Card III
The Modern Herbal Primer by Nancy Burke Copyright©2000 Yankee Publishing, Inc. pp.27-28