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5 Reasons Why Dang Gui is Highly Recommended for Women’s Health

Dang gui is a blood-invigorating herb that has been used for centuries. Here are its benefits for women and how to incorporate it into your lifestyle.

Dang gui (angelica sinensis) root and dang gui slices on wooden spoon

There’s a reason why dang gui (当归) is known as female ginseng. This herb from the Apiaceae family—also known as dong quai, Radix angelica sinensis, or Chinese Angelica root—is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and treat gynaecological conditions.

“It is an excellent herb that is able to both replenish and invigorate blood, improving blood circulation in the body,” explains TCM Physician Kwek Le Yin.  

The Benefits of Dang Gui for Women

Close-up photo of a woman holding a hot water bottle on her midsection
Dang gui in TCM is known to be the first herb of choice for regulating menstrual cycles

This blood-nourishing herb has had a long history of use as a female reproductive tonic. “It is commonly used for Blood Deficiency or Blood Stasis in the body and is described to be the ‘holy medicine for replenishing blood’ (“补血之圣药”). It can also nourish blood-deficient intestines and improve constipation,” adds Physician Kwek.

Here’s how dang gui can help restore your body’s natural balance.

1. It helps regulate your menstrual cycle 

A regular menstrual cycle usually refers to menstruation occurring every 21 to 35 days, lasting for five to seven days. When the length between two periods is less than 21 days or more than 35 days, or when the period is extended and lasts more than seven days, menstruation is considered irregular. While this is common in older women transitioning into menopause, it may be indicative of an imbalanced body for younger women experiencing such symptoms. Irregular menstrual cycles may also be accompanied by menstrual cramps.

Dang gui is known to be the first choice for regulating menstrual cycles, and alleviating dysmenorrhea and menopausal symptoms caused by Blood Deficiency,” says Physician Kwek. In TCM, this is part of treating Blood Stasis and Blood Deficiency, which are associated with western diagnoses of no periods, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. As a blood-tonifying herb, it promotes the flow of blood and helps increase its volume.

2. It provides relief for dysmenorrhea 

Chinese herbalists also consider this herb to be a uterine tonic. In vivo and in vitro animal studies have shown both its stimulating and relaxing activity on the uterine tissue. According to Physician Kwek, “Dang gui is prescribed for women with dysmenorrhea that may present as a stabbing or a dull pain.”  

The herb appears to contain compounds that stimulate and relax the uterus muscles. With its anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and analgesic effects, it can help relax muscle spasms and promote blood circulation, effectively alleviating menstrual cramps and pain during your period. 

3. It replenishes blood after delivery

Asian woman with her new-born in bed after a long pregnancy and delivery
Dang gui can help replenish blood loss, especially in post-partum women with low vitality and fatigue.

Dang gui can be prescribed post-pregnancy to strengthen and regulate the body after blood loss,” advises Physician Kwek. Not only can this be used to replenish postpartum blood loss in the body, it also helps after menstruation. The herb tonifies the blood, which is helpful to postpartum women with low vitality or qi (vital energy). 

4. It helps with symptoms of menopause 

Dang gui can also help menopausal symptoms caused by Blood Deficiency or Blood Stasis, relates Physician Kwek. “Research has also shown that dang gui can regulate oestrogen levels. This can then help alleviate symptoms of menopause.“ However, since the herb can act like oestrogen in the body, those who are prone to hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer are advised to consult with a licensed TCM physician before use.

5. It promotes a clearer, more vibrant complexion 

Physician Kwek also states that this herb can be prescribed for the treatment of facial blemishes. “Ancient Chinese medical texts have recorded dang gui to be a ‘female’s face medicine (妇人面药)’. Its ability to promote blood circulation allows for a radiant complexion and the treatment of facial blemishes such as age spots or skin pigmentation.” 

Beneficial Herb as Food Therapy

Fresh delicious mutton hot pot with vegetables and Chinese herbal medicine like goji berry and Chinese angelica dang gui
Dang gui is a beneficial herb that can be used as medicine or incorporated into dishes like lamb soup.

As an anti-inflammatory supplement, Angelica root extract has been shown to enhance the immune system, protect the heart, and treat anaemia.

Physician Kwek recommends taking Dang Gui and Egg Herbal soup after menstruation to replenish blood loss. Dang Gui Ginger and Lamb Soup can help with abdominal pain or postpartum weakness due to Blood Deficiency and Yang Deficiency.

“Research has shown that dang gui can help boost male fertility too. This is due to it being rich in ferulic acid, which increases sperm viability and motility. However, it’s heaty in nature and TCM believes that men should consume less of it compared to females since men have higher levels of yang energy (active energy),” cautions Physician Kwek.

Regardless of gender, dang gui is a beneficial herb that can be used either as medicine or incorporated into your meals. A waist tonic essence (bu yao jing, 补腰精) containing six types of Chinese herbs including dang gui, is great for relieving back pain, strengthening the waist, muscles, and knee, tonifying qi, and reducing fatigue

Dang gui is typically combined with other herbs and is rarely used alone. It’s best to consult a qualified TCM physician before consuming these herbs due to different body constitutions.

Are you familiar with dang gui? Save this article for your next visit with a TCM physician. 

References

  1. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. 2010. Fertility Challenges. [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/angelica-sinensis> [Accessed on 4 October 2022]
  2. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. 2010. Menstrual Wellness and Menstrual Problems. [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/angelica-sinensis> [Accessed on 4 October 2022]
  3. Principles of Gender-Specific Medicine (Second Edition). 2010. Menopause. [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/menstrual-irregularity> [Accessed on 5 October 2022]
  4. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Last Reviewed 2017. What are menstrual irregularities? [Online] Available at: <https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/menstruation/conditioninfo/irregularities> [Accessed on 5 October 2022]
  5. Integrating Conventional and Chinese Medicine in Cancer Care. 2007. Colorectal Cancer. [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/angelica-sinensis> [Accessed on 4 October 2022]
  6. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. 2010. Dong Quai. [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/angelica-sinensis>[Accessed on 4 October 2022] 
  7. Textbook of Natural Medicine (Fifth Edition). 2020. Volume 2. [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/angelica-sinensis> [Accessed on 4 October 2022]
  8. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. 2010. Conditions of the Reproductive Organs. [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/angelica-sinensis>[Accessed on 4 October 2022] 
  9. Chinese Herbal Medicines (Second Edition). 2010. Herbs that regulate the Blood. Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/angelica-sinensis> [Accessed on 4 October 2022]
  10. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2019. Is Danggui Safe to be Taken by Breast Cancer Patients?—A Skepticism Finally Answered by Comprehensive Preclinical Evidence. [Online] Available at: <https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.00706/full> [Accessed on 4 October 2022]
  11. Translational Inflammation. 2019. Antiinflammatory Herbal Supplements. [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/angelica-sinensis> [Accessed 4 October 2022]

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