Dong Quai, Female Aphrodisiac

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dong quai aphrodisiac

Thousands of years ago, long before drug therapy existed, cultures in Japan, China and Korea prized the herb dong quai for its many healing benefits, including balancing hormones. Dong quai is also known as Chinese Angelica, and Female Ginseng. It belongs to the same plant family as parsley, celery, carrots, and poison hemlock. It is one of the most popular plants in Chinese medicine, where it is usually combined with other herbs.

The name dong quai actually translates as "return to order" because of the herb's ability to promote overall body balancing and restoration. It became known as the "female ginseng" because Chinese women used it to regulate their menstrual cycle and alleviate menstrual pain. Thus, earning a reputation as the "ultimate herb" for women. It is widely used among Chinese women as a fortifying daily tonic, much as Chinese men rely on ginseng. It is one of the most widely consumed herbs in China, used as frequently as ginseng and licorice.

In traditional Chinese medicine, dong quai is often boiled or soaked in wine. The root is removed and the liquid is taken orally. Different parts of this herb’s root are believed to have different actions - the head of the root has anticoagulant activity, the main part of the root is a tonic, and the end of the root eliminates blood stagnation.

The plant has been used for menstrual cramps, hot flashes, anemia associated with menstruation, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pelvic pain, recovery from childbirth or illness, fatigue or low energy, and lack of sexual desire. Dong quai is used in both men and women for heart conditions, high blood pressure, inflammation, headache, infections, and nerve pain. It is also used as a liver tonic and in treating sciatica and shingles.

It has been suggested that dong quai has weak estrogen-like effects. However, it remains unclear whether dong quai has the same effects as estrogens, blocks estrogen activity, or lacks significant hormonal effects.

In traditional Chinese medicine, its usage benefits include:
  • Promote nourishing and cleansing of the blood
  • Fight the signs of aging
  • Elevate mood
  • Increase energy
  • Maintain proper digestion and immune function
  • Support optimal joint and bone health
  • Promote proper functioning of the heart, spleen, liver and kidneys

Dong quai has also been suggested for these conditions, although there isn’t good scientific evidence:
  • Amenorrhea (absence of menstruation)
  • Heart disease -- One study suggested that a combination of dong quai, Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), and astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) decreased symptoms of chest pain in a small group of people with heart disease.
  • High blood pressure
  • Premature ejaculation -- as one ingredient in a cream applied to the skin

Nutritional benefits of dong quai:
  • Vitamins A, E, B12, niacin and folate.
  • Iron.
  • Coumarins - compounds which act to dilate or open up blood vessels and help control spasms in muscles. Experts presume that these compounds may act to increase the blood supply to various organs including the uterus, thus promoting the regulation of menstruation.
  • Phytoestrogens - estrogen-like plant compounds thought to help supply an additional, mild source of estrogen to balance out levels in the body.
  • Antioxidants - fight free radicals that can cause signs of aging.


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