Angelica Sinensis Dong Quai

Dong quai -Radix Angelica Sinensis: Benefits, Dosages, Precautions, Traditional uses, and Scientific evidences

This drug is the root of Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels, a perennial herbal plant of the Umbelliferae family, growing or cultivated in Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan, Shaanxi and Hubei provinces, in China.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) properties

Taste: Sweet, pungent, and warm in nature
Meridian Channels: Liver, Heart, Spleen
Effects and Indications: Angelica Sinensis root can replenish blood, promote blood circulation, adjust menstruation, relieve pain, moisten the intestines and promote defecation.

Traditional Chinese Medicine actions and uses of Dong quai (Angelica Sinensis):

Tonify the blood and regulate menstruation. For syndromes of blood deficiency accompanied with fatigue, pale complexion, palpitations, amenorrhea, dry skin, thin hair and weak memory. Particularly indicated in syndromes of liver blood deficiency in woman with irregular menstruation, oligomenorrhea, premenstrual tension, menstrual colics, etc...

Promotes blood circulation and benefits the uterus. For syndromes of blood stagnation with abdominal pain, hepato and/or splenomegaly, pelvic mass, pain and traumatic hematoma, or any other stationary, stabbing and intense pain. Particularly indicated in case of blood stagnation in uterus, with pelvic mass, intense dysmenorrhea or pelvic pain, amenorrhea or dark menstrual flux with clots. Also used for blood stagnation in thorax accompanined with anginoid pain.

Humidify the stool and descend the turbid Qi: For constipation of intestines by deficiency of blood, with constipation and dry stool, pale complexion, palpitations, dry skin, and weak hair. Also used in blood stagnation in intestine, with severe constipation, with little round pieces of stools. Painful evacuation of stools.

Chemical constituents of Dong quai (Angelica Sinensis)

Chemical Constituints: volatil oil, including ligustilid, angelicone, n-butylidene phthalide and carvacrol. Water soluble fraction of angelica root contains ferulic acid, butanedioic acid, nicotinic acid, Bergapten, uracil, adenine, Beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol-D-glucoside, vannillic acid and fluorescent gelsemine. The drug also contains fatty oil, glicose, folic acid, biotin, vitamin A, B12 and E, cianocobalamina, and many metal elements.

Scientific evidences and pharmacological actions of Dong quai (Angelica Sinensis):

The roots of Angelica sinensis, are a Chinese herbal medicine traditionally used in prescriptions for replenishing blood, treating abnormal menstruation, and other women's diseases. It has also been widely marketed as health food for women's care in Asia, and as a dietary supplement in Europe and America. Chinese Angelica is well-known for its hematopoietic, antioxidant, and immunoregulatory activities. Angelica Sinenis also possesses anti-cancer, memory, radioprotective, and neuroprotective effects. Based on recent research studies and clinical trials, Angelica Sinensis has been used in the treatment of gynecologic diseases, cardio-cerebrovascular disease, nervous system diseases, and nephrotic syndrome.

Neuroprotective action: recent study found that one of main constituints of Angelica Sinenis in its essential oil (Z-ligusltilide), exerted significant neuroprotection against cerebral ischemic damage in several animal models. Reported neuroprotective effects on cerebral ischemia, suggest that the antithrombotic activity may contribute to its potential for the treatment of ischemic diseases, including ischemic stroke.

Actions on the cardiovascular and blood system: Angelica root and its ferulic acid can increase blood supply to the myocardium and prevent ischemia of the heart muscle: ligustilide can dilate coronary, cerebral and peripheral blood vessels, and increase the volume of their blood flow. Ferulic acid can increase the speed of the blood flow, dissolve aggregated blood cells and improve peripheral microcirculation. Radix Angelica Sinensis proved to have an important vasodilator, mainly in coronary and cerebral arteries. Clinically, extracts of this root relieved pain caused by angina pectoris and thromboangiitis obliterans. In this last disease, the continued treatment prevented its development to worse stages by controlling its symptoms.

Radix Angelica Sinensis used in several scientific research studies with lab animals, proved that this herb has an hemodynamic effect, although it hardly changes the blood pressure. In the heart of frogs, the herb has an effect of inotropism inhibition.

In other experiments, the herb proved to have antiarrhythmic similar in potency and effect to quinidine, inhibiting supraventricular extra-systoles, and reverting arterial fibrillation induced by electric stimulation or by administering tiroxine.

In 88,5% of the patients, taking part in a big clinical trial series done in China, Angelica Sinensis root also caused closure of ischemic ulcers and relieved the symptoms of patients with intermittent claudication. Researchers believe that the mechanism of action is done by activation of cholinergic receptors in sympathetic ganglia.

Anticoagulant and hemostasis effects

Effects of Angelica polysaccharide on blood coagulation and platelet aggregation:
To investigate the effects of angelica polysaccharide on blood coagulation and platelet aggregation. These results suggest that angelica polysaccharide has potent anticoagulant and hemostasis effects. The hemostasis effect is related to promoting platelet aggregation.

Anti-hipertensive action:
Ferulic acid, a phytochemical constituent, has antihypertensive effects, but a detailed understanding of its effects on vascular function remains unclear.

Anti-depressive effects

Some studies have found that dong quai could have an anti-depressant effect and may have a positive impact when it comes to your mood.

A Research study induced depression in rats by exposing them to mild stress levels. In response, the rats exhibited a decreased appetite and increased physical inactivity. Treating them with Dong quai extract altered the activity of a protein in the brain linked to depression and normalized these depressive behaviors.

Anti-anemic action: Injectable preparations of Radix Angelica Sinensis were effective in increasing the hematocrit, both in patients with pernicious anemia and in laboratory animals with experimentally induced megaloblastic anemia. It has been suggested that the reported antianemic effect of A.sinensis, by stimulating hematopoiesis in bone marrow because of its high content of vitamin B12, folic acid, nicotinic acid, and biotin.

Actions on blood lipids: Ferulic acid can reduce blood lipids and inhibit synthesis of cholesterol in the liver.

Actions on immunological functions: Angelica root can enhance specific and non-specific immunity of the human body by means of its polysaccharide and ferulic acid.

Actions on the smooth muscle: Angelica root can produce a two-way adjustment to the contraction of the uterus according to its tonus. Ligustilid and n-butylidene phthalide can relive spasms of the smooth muscles in the bronchi and intestines.

Actions on the liver and biliary system: Angelica can protect the liver from acute damage, resolve inflammation of the liver, reduce the level of serum transaminase, promote the recovery of liver functions and prevent the development of liver cirrhosis.
Water extract of Angelica Sinensis root and its volatile oil and ferulic acid can promote excretion of bile.
In an scientific study, mice that received Radix Angelica Sinensis mixed in their diet developed increased oxygen consumption in the liver.

In another study the herb protected the liver from rats against experimental hepatitis caused by carbon tetrachloride.

Another study proves that Dang quai (Angelica Sinensis) have hepatoprotective and anti-tumor effects

Action on uterus: Radix Angelica Sinensis has been studied for several years, the results indicate that depending on the type of preparation of the extract used, the plant can cause contraction or relax the uterus. Other studies conclude that the root makes the uterine contractions slower and with continuous rhythm in women with menstruation. Clinically the decoction of Angelica Sinensis can cause important relieve of menstrual colic. Ligustilide has multiple effects on the uterine smooth muscles, suggesting that Ligustilide possesses a non-specific antispasmodic function. Ligustilide is one of active ingredients of Radiz Angelica Sinensis and has the potential to be developed into an effective drug for the prevention and treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea.

Reduce side effects of menopause:

Its was also demonstrated that this herb has an estrogenic effect, which can relieve and treat menopausal hot flashes. May be able to help regulate hormone levels and relieve your menopause symptoms without the use of synthetic chemicals.

In addition, Angelica Sinensis root can also produce anti-tumor, sedative, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, ischemia resistant, radiation-resistant and antibacterial effects.

Antibacterial Actions: Decoction of Radix Angelica Sinensis has inhibitory action "in vivo" against S. aureus, Streptococcus sp, Vcholerae, S typhi, Shigella sp and other bacteria.
Sedative actions: extracts of Radix Angelica Sinensis produce sedation in experiments with laboratory animals.

Cutaneous action: Inhibits tyrosinase, an important enhancer for melanin biosynthesis. This justifies the Angelica location in Chinese cosmetology, for the removal of blemishes on the skin.
Antihistamine action: Recent research in China has shown that aqueous extracts of Radix Angelica Sinensis have an antihistamine effect. The herb has discrete blocking action of serotonin receptors.
Antitumor effects:
The antitumor effects of Angelica sinensis on malignant brain tumors in vitro and in vivo.

Dong quai (Angelica Sinenis) and its health benefits.

Cardiovascular diseases: Angelica Sinensis root can be used to treat acute cerebro-thrombosis, acute-ischemic apoplexy, thromboangitis obliterans, ventricular presystole in coronary heart disease and cerebral arteriosclerosis.

Gynecological diseases: Decoction or tablets of Angelica Sinensis root can be used to treat dysmenorrhea and irregular menstruation, and menopausal effects.

Bronchitis and bronchial asthma: Angelica Sinensis root can control status asthmaticus, and continuous administration of this drug can prevent attacks of asthma.

Sudden deafness:
Early administration of the drug can treat this disorder.

Chronic hepatitis: Compound Angelica Pill (Fufang Danggui Wan), Angelica Pill (Danggui Wan) and Angelica Solution for Injection (Danggui Zhusheye) can be used to treat this disease as therapeutic course lasting 2-3 months.

Poliomyelitis in children and prolapse of uterus: Aqua-acupuncture of Angelica Sinensis solution at acupoints can be used to treat these diseases. Chinese Doctors inject extracts of Dong quai in acupuncture points in order to stimulate and nourish the meridians of energy.

How to collect, use and cook Dong quai (Angelica Sinenis)?

The roots are dug and collected in late autumn, with the top of the root and fibrous root removed. After water in the roots is partially evaporated, roots of similar size are bound in small bunchs, and slowly baked over a soft fire to prevent gnawing by insects and attack of mildew. Raw slices of Angelica root or Angelica roots sliced and fried with alcohol are supplied for clinical application.

However, it is much easier to find dong quai in supplement form and, thanks to its growing popularity, you can usually find it at many pharmacies and health stores as well as online.

It is most often found as a capsule, but it is also available as a liquid extract or in dong quai tea.
When purchasing supplements, you should look for a reputable brand and check the ingredients label to make sure there are enough percentage of the plant extract to have therapeutic effects.

What are the correct doses of Dong quai (Angelica Sinensis) and how to use it?

To prepare a decoction is used 5-15gr of Angelica root, alcohol extract, paste, pill or powder for oral administration, and an appropriate amount of the drug is used to prepare a paste for external application. Tail of Angelica root is used to promote blood circulation, and the whole root is used to replenish blood and promote blood circulation, and the whole root is used to replenish blood and promote blood circulation. Angelica Solution for Injection is administered by intra-venous injection, intra-venous dripping or aqua-acupuncture at acupoints according to the requirements for treating different diseases.

Contra-indications, side effects, precautions in using Dong quai (Angelica Sinensis):

According to TCM theory, this herb has a sweet taste and cathartic effect, and it should therefore not be prescribed for patients with diarrhea or excessive dampness in the middle energizer.

People who are going to have surgery should stop taking Angelica Sinenis 1 week before, because Dong quai have anticoagulant effects, making the blood thinner and increasing the probability for hemorrhages and bleedings.

Medications that slow blood clotting, like Anticoagulant and Antiplatelet drugs, should avoid taking Angelica Sinensis.

Angelica Sinensis slow blood clotting and taking Dong quai along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin).

Where to buy Dong quai (Angelica Sinensis)?

For Europe we recommend the following supplier in UK:

For USA we recomend to try the following link:

For Australia we recomend to try the following company link:
For Canada we recomend to try the following company link:

Badal, Simon; Delgado, Rupika; Pharmacognosy, Fundamentals, Applications and Strategy, Pag 110-114; Elsevier, 2017

Mills, Edward; Koren, Gideon; Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy & lactation, An evidence based approach; Taylors & Francis group, London and New York, 2006.

Liu, Ganzhong; Xu, Qiuping, Wang Tai; The Essentials of Herbal Medicine; Foreigner Language Press, Beijing, 2003

Watson, Ronald; Complementary and alternative therapies and the aging population-An evidence based approach; Pag 259; Elsevier, 2009

Chang, Hson-Mou, But, Paul; Pharmacology and applications of Chinese Materia Medica, Vol I Pag. 456-465; World Scientific Publishing Co, Pte, Ltd, Singapore, 2001

Yin Z, Zhang L, Xu L. The effect of dang-gui (Angelica sinensis) and its ingredient ferulic acid on rat platelet aggregation and release of 5-HT. Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica 1980, 15:321

Sun LQ. Modern research on chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, toxicity and clinical application of Radix Angelica sinensis. Asian Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics 2005, 5:265-281

Zhang L, Du J-R, Wang J, Yu D-K, Chen Y-S, He Y, Wang Ch-Y. Z-ligistilide extracted from radix Angelica sinensis decreased platelet aggregation induced by ADP ex vivo and arterio-venous shunt thrombosis in vivo in rats. Yakugaku Zasshi 2009, 129:855-859

Tao JY, Ruan UP, Mei QB, Liu S, Tian QL, Chen YZ. Studies on the antiasthmatic effect of ligustilide of dang gui, Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels. Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica 1984; 19:561-565

Posted by Dr. João Carrilho

Dr. João Carrilho
Doctor in Traditional Chinese Medicine by Southwest Medical University, China.
Licensed Acupuncturist (N.0500096) and Phytotherapist (N.0400028) by the Portuguese Health Ministry.
Post-Graduated in Health Sciences at Oporto University, Portugal

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