A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Angelica sinensis syn. A. polymorpha
The herbal product made from the Chinese angelica, also commonly called the dong quai, the dang gui, or the tang kuei is derived from the root of the Chinese herb - the Angelica polymorpha Maxim - botanical name. The variety of the species is sinensis Oliv. The herb is also known as A. sinensis (Oliv.), and it is a member of the plant family Apiaceae common in and native to China. The herbal remedies and herbal medication prepared from this herb has a mildly laxative effect on people, while, it is used primarily as a uterine tonic in women, it is also used as an antispasmodic herbal agent, and it is also used for its alterative-or blood purifying-effects, which are said to be very beneficial to affected patients.
This herbal remedy is very often suggested to patients by many modern herbalists to be used in the treatment of the majority of gynecological ailments and disorders, these conditions can include persistent menstrual cramps, the presence of some irregularity or a retarded menstrual flow, and to treat physical weakness during the menstrual period of affected women. While the use of the dong quai is not suggested in pregnant women, the remedy is also said provide physical relief from the many symptoms which occur during the process of menopause in women. The remedy is also known to be useful in the treatment of disorders such as hypertension and additionally, it is said to possess very effective antispasmodic properties in individuals afflicted by muscular spasms. The herb is also used to induce blood purification and to provide nourishment, for which it has a great reputation-and lastly, it has also been used in the treatment of constipation in individuals affected by this disorder.
Dong quai has been put under chemical investigation, and the herb is now known to possess at least seven different coumarin derivatives, these include the chemical compound oxypeucedanin, the compound osthole, the compound imperatorin, the compound psoralen, and bergapten-all of these compounds were present in the dong quai samples. The majority of chemical coumarins or its derivatives have known actions as vasodilators and antispasmodics in the human body, at the same time, a few of the others, such as the compound osthole, induce a stimulating effect on the central nervous system in the human body. The very presence of these chemical compounds therefore, accounts for at least some of the purported activities ascribed to dong quai.
Utilizing large and heavy doses of these coumarins often have harmful effects on the body, and it is known that some of the furo-coumarins, like the compound psoralen and the compound bergapten, may induce dermatitis in individuals exposed to them, due to the process of photosensitization which occurs because of their presence in the body. Unnecessary exposure of the human body to these compounds is undesirable according to studies done in the year 1981, during the course of which the researchers came to the conclusion that these so-called psoralens present very significant and sufficient risks to humans. Recommendation of very large amounts of the furo-coumarin-containing medications such as the dong quai is not made to treat patients for this very reason. At the same time, the absence of substantial clinical evidence in the Western scientific literature which may support the effectiveness of dong quai in the treatment of various conditions for which it is indeed suggested, also limits the use of this herbal remedy. For example, in the only reported U.S. based study on the potential effects of the dong quai on alleviating postmenopausal symptoms-including physical symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes-found the herbal remedy equal in effectiveness to a placebo given to the test subjects. However, in traditional Chinese medicine, the dong quai remains as one of the most widely suggested medications and consequently, the remedy is far more popular in usage to other well known herbs such as the ginseng-which is quite well known in the western world. Various combinations of the dong quai with other herbs is the general prescribed avenue for patients and the herb is almost never used alone in most herbal medical systems. Further clinical studies are required on the potential benefits of this herb, before full acceptance in Western societies can be realized, and many controlled clinical studies still have to follow with regard to this herb. The use of this herb as a therapeutic agent has little basis and till such times.
Rhizome, root, leaves, stalks, seeds.
While it is also used in the treatment of disorders related to men, the remedies made from the Chinese angelica is considered to be the best Chinese tonic herb for women-with respect to such female disorders, the herb is very highly valued as a blood tonic in the Eastern world. Some of the positive effects associated with the herbal remedies made from the Chinese angelica include the regulation of hormones, the regulation and control of the menstruation, the herbal remedy is also supposed to be able to bring about recovery from delayed or suppressed menstrual periods, it is also said to relieve the symptoms associated with menstrual cramps, and the herbal remedy can also be used during the period of menopause to treat various symptoms which may affect the woman. The Chinese angelica herb can be eaten raw or taken in the form of a herbal tincture, the remedy also aids in relaxing the strained muscles in the uterus, and when it is used with water it can result in bringing about better toning in the uterine muscles and in bringing about stimulation to the uterine contractions, the herbal remedy can also lead to an increase in the circulation of blood in the uterine area and aids in relieving congestion which occurs along the pelvic region of the woman. Ideally, this remedy must not be taken by women who are under the term of pregnancy as it can cause potential side effects in the body.
The warming effects and the stimulating or antispasmodic abilities of the dang gui are best brought forth when the herb is cooked before consumption. Some of the other beneficial physical effects of the dang gui herb include helping improve the circulation in the body, the herbal remedy also speeds up tissue repair, it effectively lowers blood pressure, and can slow the pulse down, the herbal remedy can also aid in preventing disorders like atherosclerosis and blood clots from developing in the body and its ability to relax the cardiac muscles of the heart is also useful in treating certain disorders. The sedative actions of the Chinese angelica are also taken advantage off in various treatment methodologies. The nourishing effects of the Chinese angelica, it high content of major vitamins, and its actions and aid in the absorption and utilization of the vitamin E from the diet are other beneficial properties. Remedies made from the Chinese angelica are also utilized to control and treat disorders such as anemia and the angina which affects the heart.
In addition, the herbal dang gui remedy has an ability to stabilize the blood sugar levels in patients, while enhancing the functioning of the immune system at the same time. The bactericidal, the antiviral and the antifungal properties of the Chinese angelica are also useful in counteracting a whole range of other infections which can affect a person, these include common colds and flu which strike patients on a regular basis. The blood purification properties of the Chinese angelica is considered to be a very valuable ability of the herb and the remedy also has a moistening effect useful in relieving the constipation affecting the patients. The rejuvenating properties of the Chinese angelica are another useful property of the herb and the herb is also helpful in relieving the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatic pain in the affected individual. The other properties of the tonic form of the Chinese angelica is useful during convalescence, and its use as a herbal remedy is suggested to help speed the recovery process and also to increase the energy of a woman following the rigors of childbirth and labor.
The herbal remedies made from the Chinese angelica are very famous in China as a herbal tonic, this herbal tonic is taken to treat many "deficient blood" conditions, these can include anemia, and the remedy is also used to treat the symptoms of anemia occurring because of loss of blood- resulting in a very pale complexion, in palpitations, and those resulting in a lowered vitality in the body.
The remedy derived from Chinese angelica causes a "warming" effect and this herb is often known as a “warming” herb, it thus brings about an improvement in the circulation to the abdominal area, and to the areas of the body such as the hands and the feet of the affected individual. The consumption of the herbal remedy also results in strengthening of the digestive system and the process of digestion at the same time, the herbal remedy is also very useful in the effective treatment of all abscesses and boils which may affect an individual.
Habitat and cultivation
The Chinese angelica is extensively cultivated in China and Japan, where it is a native plant and is well regarded for its herbal properties. The Gansu province in China produces crops with the best rhizomes for medicinal utilization. The rhizomes are usually reaped in the autumn, following the sowing of seeds in the spring.
The ability of the herbal remedy to regulate uterine contractions was determined during the course of extensive research in China starting in the 1970s-this ability of the herb is highly valued as it has many medical uses. This ability is one explanation for the beneficial effects it has in treating menstrual pain in many women.
The functioning of the liver, is also strengthened and bolstered according to many researches carried out on the whole plant, which includes herbal remedies made from the rhizome, and other parts of the plant. The antibiotic effect intrinsic to the whole herb is also a property made use of in many herbal remedies.
The majority of female patients use about 3-4 grams of the herb a day in many different forms. This remedy can be taken in the form of the powdered root used in capsules, in the form of tablets, in the form of an herbal tinctures, or as an herbal tea. The long term use of the herb provides the greatest benefit to many women who use it on a daily basis.
Side effects and cautions
Generally, the herbal dong quai remedy is considered by herbalist as an extremely low toxicity remedy. Though, it can induce minor problems in individuals, causing some fair-skinned individuals to become more sensitive to direct sunlight on the skin. For this reason and to avoid this effect, all individuals who make use of the remedy on a regular basis should try to avoid any prolonged and direct exposure to the sun or to other sources of ultraviolet radiation from day to day while treatment is progressing. Pregnant and lactating women must not use the dong quai and most herbalists will suggest discontinuance on starting a term of pregnancy.
How it works in the body
The chemical compounds forming the constituents of the Chinese angelica are of particular usefulness and importance in regard to the treatment of reproductive problems affecting women. The use of this remedy has a combined action affecting the circulatory system and acting as a blood tonic mean-this remedy by and large is very effective in treating the problems related to menopause, including physical symptoms such as muscular aches, and persistent pains in the body, as well as in helping treat irregular and absent menstrual periods in some women. Painful menstrual periods are also alleviated through the antispasmodic actions of the herbal remedy. It is used for the prevention of anemia in China as well as in bringing nourishment to the blood; it is used in the treatment of blurred vision, to treat symptoms associated with tinnitus, and in the treatment of palpitations. The Chinese angelica is similar in its effects to the garden angelica, the remedy is a warming and carminative herb, very effective in dealing with digestion problems and the properties of the herb are also effective against long-term liver damage or infection in the hepatic region. Cases of constipation in women are effectively dealt with using this remedy, and most Chinese medicinal herbalist suggests the use of this herb to treat such disorders. The antibiotic property of the rhizome is a very effective and useful property, and the remedy is also extensively used to treat cases where there are sores and abscesses on the body. Chinese angelica has sweet, to acrid, to bitter, and even warming effects on the patient.
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