Angelica, Dong Gui, (Angelica sinensis)

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Medicinal Herbs & Therapeutic Botanicals

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Botanical: Angelica or Dong Gui (Angelica sinensis Oliv.)

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Dong Gui (Angelica sinensis), is also known as Chinese Angelica and has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese, Korean, and Japanese medicine. Today, it is still one of the most popular plants in Chinese medicine, and is used primarily for health conditions in women. Dong Gui has been called "female ginseng," based on its use for gynecologic disorders such as painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) or pelvic pain, recovery from childbirth or illness, and fatigue/low vitality. It is also prescribed in Chinese medicine for strengthening 'xue' (loosely translated as "the blood"). Furthermore, it is used for cardiovascular conditions/high blood pressure, inflammation, headache, infections, and neuropathic (nerve) pain.

Botanicals - Angelica



Angelica (Dong Gui)

Biological Name:
Angelica sinensis


Other Names:
Angelica, dong-quei, dong-gui, tang-kuei or dang-gui, dong quai in China.

Parts Used:
roots, only the hips of the root, up to the head is used.



Dong gui (Angelica sinensis) has a long history of use, especially in asian countries such as China, Korea and Japan, where it has been used as a spice, tonic and medicine.

Dong gui (Angelica sinensis) is a perennial plant with a smooth purplish stem. It bears umbrella-shaped clusters of white flowers and winged fruits in mid- to late summer (July/August). Angelica grows well at high altitudes in cold, damp, mountainous regions.

Major constituents:

Butylidene phthlide, n-valerophenon-o-carboxylic acid, dihydrophthalic anhydride, sucrose, vitamin b12, carotene, beta-sitosterol, polysaccharides, ferulic acid, ligustilide, senkyunolide H and senkyunolide I.

Traditional uses of Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is used for a variety of purposes including reproductive, circulatory and respiratory problems and diseases.

* Menopausal symptoms—some women report relief of symptoms such as hot flashes from this medicinal herb; however, clinical studies to date do not support the effectiveness of dong gui for menopausal symptoms.

* PMS—studies suggest that dong gui offers some value when used in conjunction with other Chinese herbs, particularly black cohosh, to treat PMS.

* Anemia—there are individual reports of successful treatment of anemia using dong gui, but to date no studies verify this.

* Heart disease—when used in combination with ginseng (Asian ginseng) and astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), dong gui decreased symptoms of chest pain and improved exercise tolerance in a small group of people with heart disease.

* Stroke—a series of reports published in China indicate that the use of dong gui just following a stroke demonstrated a decrease in the amount of brain damage; more research is needed.

* High blood pressure—reports indicate that dong gui may lower blood pressure in some individuals.

* Ulcers—animal studies suggest dong gui may soothe ulcers, but studies in people are needed before a definitive conclusion can be drawn.

Other conditions for which dong gui has been used clinically include:

* Constipation
* Migraine headache
* Pain
* Liver disorders

It must be remembered, that especially in traditional Chinese medicine, this herb is nearly always combined with other complementary herbs when prescribed. Thus, testing Angelica sinensis in isolation for a reported traditional use in a herbal formula, may not be conclusive or indicative of its effectiveness.

Pharmacological and clinical research

(Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Bensky, D & Gamble, A.):

Effect on the uterus: as long ago as the 1920s, decoctions of Radix Angelicae Sinensis (Dang Gui) on the uterus was the object of research. At that time it was shown to have a contractile effect when given intravenously to anesthetized dogs and rabbits. The exact mechanism or ingredient that is responsible for this effect has not been elucidated, but it does cause contractions in in situ uteri and relaxation in uterus specimens. In some studies using direct measurement of the myometrium, administration of Radix Angelicae sinensis (Dang Gui) enabled the contractions of the uterus to be more orderly. In the opinion of some researchers, this may be the mechanism underlying its effectiveness in treating dysmenorrhea. The herb does not appear to have any estrogenic effect.

Effect on the liver: when mice were fed a 5% preparation of Radix Angelicae Sinensis (Dang Gui), it increased the oxygen consumption of the liver without affecting the amount of nucleic acids present. It is thought that perhaps this is due to a generalized increase in metabolism. It also has a protective effect on livers exposed to carbon tetrachloride.

Cardiovascular effect: decoctions of Radix Angelicae Sinensis (Dang Gui) have an in-hibitory effect on frog heart specimens. Alcohol extractions have a quinidine-like effect.

In many experiments various preparations of this herb (including decoctions and alcohol extractions) have the effect of lowering blood pressure in anesthetized animals. When the dosage is small, the duration of this effect is rather short and is usually followed by a rise in pressure. In controlled experiments on rats with artificial atherosclerosis, those animals fed this herb had less plaque formation than controls.

• Antibiotic effect: decoctions of Radix Angelicae Sinensis (Dang Gui) have in vitro in-hibitory effect against many bacteria including hemolytic Streptococcus and Shigella.

• Central nervous system effect: Radix Angelicae Sinensis (Dang Gui) has a mild sedative effect.

• Treatment of pain: injections of a preparation of Radix Angelicae Sinensis (Dang Gui) into acupuncture points is used all over China for the treatment of various types of pain (including neuralgias, ischemic pain, and arthritis) with good results. In one study of 1000 patients, over 380 were cured. In another trial of 50 patients with occipital neuralgia.


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