Dong Quai

"Compelled to return" is the English translation of this herb's name. Tang kuei, as you will find it in Chinese herbals, earned its title through its power to restore balance. Although it is a celebrated woman's herbal, dong quai has many salubrious uses for both sexes.

Often called "the woman's ginseng," Chinese herbalists deem dong quai to be useful for almost every female gynecological ailment. It is considered to be nourishing to the female glands and to have the ability to open blocked passageways. With these capacities, it is used to regulate menstruation, strengthen internal muscles and organs, and increase circulation. It is helpful for relieving backaches, cramps, and clotting due to menstrual problems. It is used with other Chinese herbs to treat leukorrhea, chronic endometritis, anemia, and emotional instability.

In an article on dong quai, herbalist Louise Tenney states that no Chinese midwife would be without it, noting that it is used for prolapsed uterus, breast abscess, and retained placenta. It is also used to enhance fertility, prevent miscarriage, and treat moming sickness. it is said to facilitate pregnancy and delivery, preventing hemorrhage and nourishing the blood before and after childbirth.

Furthermore, the herb continues to be of assistance to women at the end of their child-bearing years when it is believed to help with hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. It is truly an herb that can be a woman's friend for life.

The Catalog of Chinese Herbal Formulas contains no less than 16 formulas using tang kuei as the primary ingredient. Not all of these formulas are specific for women's health concerns. In general it is a tonic to the body, and as the superior herb in the formulas, it is used to dispel a number of common ailments. These include whole body pain and joint pain and stiffness, skin disease, including weeping eczema, digestive disorders, fatigue, headache, poor circulation, chill blains, kidney problems, and bleeding hemorrhoids. Louise Tenney adds that dong quai is as effective for the liver as blue vervain, dandelion, mandrake, and parsley.

Although the activity of herbs is not completely understood, at least part of dong quai's effectiveness can be explained by the interaction of its nutritional components. Dong quai is said to outrank both comfrey and wheatgerm as the richest vegetable source of vitamin E. It also contains vitamin B12 and iron which account for its effectiveness in preventing anemia. It contains moderate amounts of vitamins A and C and small amounts of niacin, folic acid, and biotin. It also contains magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, selenium, manganese, and silicon plus essential oils. In addition, it is rich in saponins as is ginseng.

A "Female Corrective Combination Containing Dong Quai" is recommended by Ms. Tenney. It is used for rebuilding the reproductive system, and is touted as "an excellent herbal combination to supply the body with material to produce its own hormones in the proper amounts...can be used during puberty and through the life cycle of a woman." Besides dong quai, the formula contains red raspberry, ginger, licorice, black cohosh, queen of the meadow, blessed thistle, and marshmallow. These are herbs which have been favored by women for centuries.

Nutrition News.

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