Dong quai is a plant in the celery family whose roots have been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine to support women’s reproductive health and in the treatment of a variety of ailments.

Specifically, dong quai root is believed to soothe menstrual cramps and ease premenstrual syndrome (PMS), keep periods regular, and alleviate symptoms of menopause.

It’s also commonly paired with another herb, Astragalus membranaceus, in a decoction called Danggui Buxue Tang (DBT), which is used for supporting vitality and organ health.

The main dong quai benefits are increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation, as well as improving the absorption of Astragalus membranaceus (which supports the immune system and blood and bone health). 

In this article you’re going to learn what dong quai is, the main dong quai side effects, who shouldn’t take dong quai, and more.

What Is Dong Quai

Dong quai (also known as Angelica sinensis, Danggui, Chinese Dang Gui, Chinese angelica, Radix Angelica Sinensis, and female ginseng) is a plant that grows in China, Japan, and Korea. Dong quai root has been harvested and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years.

Dong quai root extract is a popular herb supplement commonly taken by women to ease cramps and premenstrual syndrome, regulate periods, and relieve symptoms of menopause (like hot flashes and night sweats).

While many of dong quai’s uses are for women in regards to menstruation and menopause, dong quai is used for men to treat premature ejaculation.

Other traditional dong quai uses include treating cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure and improving circulation. 

Find the Perfect Supplements for You in Just 60 Seconds

You don't need supplements to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy. But the right ones can help. Take this quiz to learn which ones are best for you.

Take the Quiz

Dong Quai Benefits

Traditionally, the main dong quai root uses have been . . .

  • Improving blood health and treating anemia
  • Relieving dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps)
  • Reducing symptoms of menopause
  • Reducing chest pain and improving heart function for those with heart disease
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Treating migraines
  • Treating amenorrhea (absence of a period)
  • Relieving constipation
  • Treating skin issues like discoloration or psoriasis
  • Soothing premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Supporting bone health

That’s what people say dong quai root does, but the scientific evidence for many of these claims is scarce.

For example, some research shows taking a product containing dong quai can reduce hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal women. The problem with this research, though, is that the supplement in question contained a cocktail of herbs, so it’s impossible to tell if the benefits were from dong quai or one of the other ingredients. 

More to the point, other research has found dong quai (by itself) isn’t effective for treating symptoms of menopause. 

Dong quai for men is a similar story. SS Cream is a topical cream containing dong quai that’s used to treat premature ejaculation, and research shows it can help. Once again, though, dong quai is just one ingredient among many, and it’s impossible to say how helpful it would be on its own.

Some animal research shows dong quai may support bone health, but there haven’t been any studies on humans to confirm this. 

The best evidence of dong quai root’s benefits relates to inflammation. Dong quai seems to protect blood vessels from inflammatory damage and may reduce systemic inflammation, which is linked with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and many other diseases.   

Additionally, dong quai does seem to enhance blood flow and protect the kidneys by slowing the decline of kidney function in people with coronary artery disease. It may even reduce the risk of death from chronic kidney disease.

Dong quai also has additional benefits when combined with another herb, Astragalus membranaceus, which is used to increase stamina, vitality, and longevity, and to treat the cold and flu. This combination is one of the most common Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal decoctions called Danggui Buxue Tang (DBT).

Studies show the two herbs work synergistically to promote the formation of blood cells, improve iron absorption, reduce inflammation, and boost the immune system.

Dong Quai Side Effects

There are very few human studies on dong quai, so most side effects are based on anecdotal reports from traditional uses. Some of these side effects include . . .

  • Skin sensitivity to sunlight
  • Rashes
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Increased breast size in men (gynaecomastia)

It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t use dong quai if you’re pregnant. That’s because it can cause the uterus to contract and increase the risk of miscarriage. While dong quai generally works as a muscle relaxant, it can actually stimulate the muscles of the uterus. 

Dong quai also contains coumarins, anticoagulant compounds often used to prevent blood clotting. Because of this, you shouldn’t use dong quai if you take blood thinning medications like warfarin, as the coumarin could dangerously increase the risk of bleeding.

Dong Quai Dosage

Dong quai can be taken as a dried herb (which can be used to make dong quai tea), powder, tablet, or as an injection, and its preparation will affect the proper dong quai dosage

For example, you’ll often see a ratio on bottles of dong quai extract powder, which indicates how much actual dong quai the product contains. A 4:1 extract means 1 gram of powder is equivalent to 4 grams of the raw plant.

The clinically effective dose of dong quai for enhancing blood flow, reducing inflammation, and enhancing the effectiveness of Astragalus membranaceus isn’t yet established, but research suggests that 3-to-5 grams of the raw plant is sufficient.

It’s worth mentioning that the dong quai dosage for hormonal balance isn’t established because, so far, there’s little evidence it meaningfully changes or balances hormones in humans.

What Is the Best Dong Quai Supplement?

If you want to supplement with dong quai, you should buy it from a trusted source. That’s because herbal supplements can be contaminated with toxins like heavy metals or contain less of the key ingredients than what’s on the label. 

In some cases, herbs can even have dangerously high levels of toxins like arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium.

Many herbal supplements contain blends of various plants, which means you’re likely paying for a bunch of ingredients you don’t want and often don’t know how much of each herb you’re getting.

If you’re looking for a safe and 100% natural source of dong quai, check out Genesis, which is a natural greens supplement that boosts energy levels, mood, and libido; and enhances heart and circulatory health and immunity.

Genesis contains 1.25 grams of a 4:1 dong quai extract per serving, providing the equivalent of 5 grams of the raw plant.

Genesis also contains 3 grams of a 5:1 Astragalus membranaceus extract per serving, providing the equivalent of 15 grams of the raw root. That’s because, as you now know, this herbal combination is effective for promoting blood cell formation and blood health, reducing inflammation, and supporting the immune system.

Additionally, every batch of Genesis is tested for a wide variety of contaminants including arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, mold, and harmful bacteria, so you can rest easy knowing you’re getting a safe source of these herbs.

Find the Best Diet for You in Just 60 Seconds

How many calories should you eat? What about "macros?" What foods should you eat? Take our 60-second quiz to get science-based answers to these questions and more.

Take the Quiz

FAQ #1: What is dong quai root good for?

Dong quai is good for enhancing blood flow, reducing inflammation, and protecting blood vessels and kidneys. It also supports the immune system and promotes blood health, especially when combined with another herb, Astragalus membranaceus.

It can also potentially work alongside other herbs to improve symptoms of menopause, but more research is needed.

FAQ #2: Does dong quai balance hormones?

There’s no scientific evidence that supplementing with dong quai balances hormones. Although it’s been used to support women’s reproductive health, alleviate menstrual cramps, maintain periods, and relieve symptoms of menopause, no studies have shown that it exerts these effects through balancing hormones. 

FAQ #3: How fast does dong quai root work?

How quickly dong quai root will work for you depends on what you’re using it for. Its main benefits are for enhancing blood flow and reducing inflammation, which aren’t effects you’ll be able to feel. Thus, it’ll be hard to tell if it’s working or not. Many of its claimed benefits aren’t supported by research (such as balancing hormones), so you’re unlikely to notice any benefits in these cases. 

FAQ #4: Who should not take dong quai root?

People who take blood thinners (like warfarin) shouldn’t take dong quai because the two substances could interact and increase the risk of bleeding. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also shouldn’t take dong quai.

If you’re allergic to plants in the celery family like carrot, coriander, or parsley, you also shouldn’t take dong quai. 

FAQ #5: How often should you take dong quai root?

How often you should take dong quai depends on why you’re using it. If you’re using it for menopause symptoms, it can be supplemented daily.

If you’re using it for menstrual cramps or premenstrual syndrome, you can take for as long as your period lasts. 

+ Scientific References