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Chinese Herb Dong Quai, The Lady Ginseng

What is Dong Quai?

The scientific name of Dong Quai is Angelica sinensis. It is an herb native to China. It is a member of the genus Angelica, under the family Apiaceae.

Umbels and this herb

Members of the Apiaceae have umbrella-like bunches called umbels of usually aromatic flowers. The flowers are radially symmetrical, and their stems are hollow. They have a tap root system and in some cases the tap roots are grown to be large enough to eat as in the cases of parsnip and carrot. Notable members of this Chinese herb include common herbs like cumin, parsley, coriander or cilantro, dill, caraway, fennel, celery, carrot, and parsnip.

This family also includes hemlock, a plant with deadly poison. The genus Angelica has members that can grow up to an amazing 10 feet (3 meters) in height. They have greenish- white or white flowers. They grow in temperate and sub-arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Angelica sinensis is also called Chinese Angelica as the scientific name suggests. The root is used in herbal medicine, and it is also the source of the name "lady ginseng" because the long, twisting root tendrils of the Chinese herb Dong Quai's roots look like silhouettes of women. The three divisions of the root - top, bulk, and tips - are used for different ailments.Following the idea of "if it looks like something, it must be good for that Dong Quai is used as a medicine for women.

It Helps in Female Problems

Gynecological ailments are said to benefit from the tonic effects of Dong Quai. Hormones are also said to be regulated by this plant, and it is said to cure high blood pressure by dilating blood vessels and thinning the blood. It is also used to treat fatigue and mild anemia, because of its high iron content. This Chinese herb has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and sedative effects. This means it is good for reducing pain (especially that associated with menstruation), bruises, internal bleeding, and for curing sleeplessness and reducing stress levels. It is also used as an aphrodisiac. Hot flashes and headaches are also reduced with this. The hormone regulation effects make menstrual cycles more regular.

Dong Quai Sources

Dong Quai is one of the few non-animal sources of cobalamin, or Vitamin 812. The rest of its phytochemicals are coumarins, flavonoids, phytosterols, ferulates, and polysaccharides. Coumarin reduces appetite, and flavonoids are antioxidants that slow aging and protect against cancer andheart disease. Phytosterols can reduce cholesterol, and is sometimes used as a food additive. Ferulate is the sodium salt of ferulic acid, and it is used to treat cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and to prevent thrombosis. Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates which provide energy, and in this Chinese herb are manifested as starch and leukocyte-stimulating substances.

Treats Hormonal Problems

There are warnings to remember, though. The hormonal and blood-dilution effects of this Chinese herb may cause problems in unborn children, so pregnant women are to avoid Dong Quai during pregnancy. Traditional belief holds that Dong Quai increases the risk of miscarriage.

   
  

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