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What Is Angelica Sinensis?

Angelica sinensis is an herb often used in Chinese medicine, where it is more commonly called Dong Quai.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Angelica sinensis is a type of herb related to plants like carrots, parsley, dill and celery. All belong to the Apiaceae family. This particular member of the family is most used as an herbal treatment and is best known as an ingredient in Chinese medicine, where it is more commonly called Dong Quai. There are many claims for its supportive value to treat a variety of conditions, a number of them centered on the female reproductive system. Such claims tend not to have much backing by the Western medical community and like all medical treatments, angelica sinensis needs to be used with due caution.

Currently, one of the most popular uses for angelica sinensis is as a treatment during and after menopause. It has been celebrated by herbalists for containing phytoestrogens, which may help replace missing estrogen and make less noticeable some of the symptoms of menopause. As previously mentioned, these claims are not verified by the traditional medical community and it is unclear that Dong Quai is of any use.

Similar claims that angelica sinensis may regulate periods, reduce menstrual period symptoms, or prevent miscarriage are unproven. Yet, this last use must be absolutely ignored. There is some evidence that Dong Quai may actually cause miscarriage, and the herb is not recommended for women who are pregnant.

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Though unproven, there are many other suggestions about how to use angelica sinensis. During labor it is sometimes employed as a uterine tonic. It’s also considered appropriate to treat conditions like anemia or cardiovascular disease. With the latter, Dong Quai does seem to have some anticoagulant effect. It should therefore be used with care if people are taking prescribed medications that have a blood-thinning effect. Combining blood thinners may not be safe.

There are some side effects that may result when people take angelica sinensis. Some people develop skin rash, photosensitivity, and stomach upset. People who take most antidepressants, heart medications, drugs to fight cancer, birth control pills or medicines/creams containing retinol should consult doctors before using this medicine. Pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children should not take this herb due to very negative or unknown effects.

The other thing that people may want to contemplate before using angelica sinensis is its preparation. It is frequently sold in a mix with other herbs, and the components of all of these should be evaluated and checked with a doctor prior to use. In some places it may be possible to purchase Dong Quai by itself. Those interested can check well stocked natural foods stores or Internet shops that sell high quality herbal products to find the best selection.

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