Dang gui is an ancient Chinese herb. It is also known as Chinese angelica root, tong kwai, and dong quai. Dang gui is a root that comes from the flowering plant, Angelica sinesis. It is a member of the same botanical group as carrots, dill, celery, and parsley. The plant flowers from May through August. The root of the plant has been used in China as a traditional Chinese remedy for thousands of years. Dang Gui was introduced to Western culture in the late 1800s as a treatment for menstrual symptoms. Today, this herb is used for a variety of medicinal purposes.
Recently, there has been much research as to the biochemical effects of dang gui and its potential in modern medicine. There is evidence it may be used for many situations including:
- Anti-cancer treatment
- Physical enduranceimprovement
- Anti-inflammatory agent
- Coronary conditions
- Menopausal symptoms
- Menstrual cramps
Researchers studied the effect of ingestion of a dang gui extract on tumor activity in mice. They looked at specific cellular processes, and the results indicate dang gui had a measurable effect on these processes. The researchers concluded the ingestion of the dang gui extract leads to increased tumor inhibition and improved immunity. They believe their research supports the use of dang gui as a potential treatment for cancer.
In a study published in the March 2014 edition of Molecules, researchers showed that dang gui increased endurance and decreased buildup of harmful chemicals after exercise. The scientists used mice and put them through a specific exercise regime. They compared physiologic response between one group of mice that had received dang gui supplementation and another group that had not. They conclude their research shows dang gui supplements improve physical performance and reduce exercise fatigue.
Researchers investigated the use of dang gui as an anti-inflammatory agent. They were able to identify specific biochemical processes affected by dang gui intake and have shown dang gui to have specific anti-inflammatory action. The researchers support the use of dang gui as effective treatment for anti-inflammatory pain.
The December, 2009 edition of Molecules published research outlining the investigation of the chemical makeup of dang gui leading to antioxidant activity. It has been found that dang gui has a high concentration of phenolic compounds, which makes this supplement a valuable antioxidant.
WebMD indicates there is early research suggesting dang gui as a potential treatment for several coronary conditions, such as high blood pressure and symptoms of chest pain. More evidence is needed in this area before these claims can be supported.
Menstrual Cramps and Menopause
There is anecdotal evidence that dang gui may help relieve symptoms of menstruation and menopause, as it has been used for this purpose for a long time in China. According to the University of Maryland, there is contradictory evidence in the research. Some studies indicate dang gui acts as an estrogen replacement, while other studies indicate it blocks estrogen in the body. There is little evidence to support its use in alleviating menopausal or menstrual symptoms, although many women claim it does.
Side Effects and Risks
Dang gui is possibly safe when taken orally and as directed. WebMD indicates dang gui can increase photosensitivity, and people should avoid if they are sensitive to the sun. The Journal for the Society of Integrative Oncology notes patients with hormone sensitive cancer should avoid the use of dang gui. Also, this herb should only be taken in low doses, as dang gui has constituents thought to be carcinogenic in high doses.
Dosage and Availability
There is not enough evidence to support a recommended daily allowance of dang gui. A daily dose of 2000 to 4000 mg is generally considered safe. Manufacturers do typically provide suggested daily dosage with their products. Dang gui can be found as a capsule, a tablet, a powder, or a tincture. You can find dang gai supplements at many area drugstores. It is also widely available online.
- Vitamin World offers 100-530 mg capsules for about $10
- Walgreens offers a one-ounce liquid vial of dang gui supplement for around $5
- Bulk Apothecary offers a four-ounce supply of dang gui powder for around $10
Consult Your Primary Care Provider
As with any herbal supplement, you should always consult with your primary care provider before taking dang gui. Make sure to discuss any underlying health conditions, as well as any other medications or supplements you are taking. There are some potentially dangerous side effects of this herb, and it should only be taken as directed with consultation. For certain conditions there may be some benefit to adding this supplement to your daily regime.