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Is Dong Quai Safe To Take During Pregnancy?
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Is Dong Quai Safe To Take During Pregnancy?

Dong Quai has been popularly used within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years and the West is now catching up to the safety and health benefits of this plant during pregnancy. It is a favorite in Chinese formulas for women's health and is highly regarded as the "supreme woman's root". It has also earned the reputation as the "supreme female tonic" and the "ultimate herb for women". With such powerful and compelling titles as these, the question arises "Is Dong Quai Safe To Take During Pregnancy?"

First things first....

What is Dong Quai?

Dong Quai literally means "ought to return". In Chinese herbology, this is so named because it is believed that by taking this herb, one's energy and blood will return and restore without disorder.

It comes from the apiaceae family, or more commonly known as the celery, carrot or parsley family. The plant is native to China, Japan and Korea and grows on the high mountains in the cold, moist regions of these countries. It is distinguished by its' small umbrella-like white flowers which bloom from May to August and produces its' fruits between July and August.

Other common names and spellings include - angelica sinensis (Latin and botanical name); Chinese angelica; dang gui; tang kuei and tan kue bai zhi.

What Are The Medicinal Uses?

The whole root is considered beneficial and in TCM, it is believed that the different sections of the root provide different 'actions'. The top part of the root has anti-coagulant (blood thinning) properties, the middle part of the root is used as a tonic and the bottom part is used to dispel patterns of blood stagnation.

Dong Quai has been widely used in restoring health and balancing the body in most cycles and rhythms of a women’s life, yet it is equally beneficial to men as well. It is essentially used before and after menstruation due to its' anti-spasmodic properties to ease those uncomfortable 'time-of-the-month' cramps and helps replenish blood levels after your period has ended.

Dong Quai can also be used to treat ailments such as: -

  1. balancing hormones and encouraging a regular menstrual cycle in women who have stopped using birth control methods.
  2. absence of periods (amenorrhea).
  3. dryness in the women's urinal area.
  4. weakness after child birth as can help strengthen the reproductive organs, ovaries and womb.
  5. eliminating blood stagnation and dissolving blood clots. This is due to its' high levels of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, iron, folic acid, calcium and zinc to name a few.
  6. regulating blood sugars.
  7. increasing blood circulation and production of red blood cells.
  8. enhancing fertility in both men and women.
  9. arthritis due to its' anti-rheumatic properties. A topical press can be made to penetrate deep in reducing inflammation, easing aches and pains by removing toxins and stimulating circulation to alleviate pressure on the area.
  10. fighting and resisting disease due to its' anti-fungal actions.

Is It Safe To Take During Pregnancy?

In TCM, although Dong Quai is highly recommended for all aspects of a woman's body cycle, it is not recommended during pregnancy. My mother, who is a strong advocate of this herb from a young age, refused to take this herb while she was pregnant! WHY?

She was taught that in the past, midwives that practiced TCM, would use the herb to induce labor in women who were 'overdue' in their pregnancy term. Thus, the same principle was applied to those in the early stages of pregnancy and was considered unsafe to use. In modern day research, some evidence has shown that Dong Quai can stimulate the uterus and cause contractions, leading to an increased risk of miscarriage or pre-term labor.

Due to its' anti-coagulant (blood thinning) properties, it can increase the risk of bleeding. During pregnancy, this risk can be higher. It should not be taken with blood thinning drugs such as aspirin, heparin and warfarin as this could also increase the chances of bleeding.

According to the National Institutes of Health, one case study of a pregnant woman who took a combination of medicinal herbs (Dong Quai being one of them), later gave birth to a baby that was born with some serious birth defects. Medical professionals believed the herbs were to blame. However, this is not evident enough to suggest that Dong Quai alone could have this effect.

Pregnant women should take precautions when high doses of Dong Quai are taken as this can cause photo-sensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight) and lead to greater risk for skin cancer, especially to those who are fair-skinned. Extra care should be taken when combined with St. John’s Wort as it is also a herb known to increase photo-sensitivity.

Dong Quai may interfere with other herbs, such as ginger, which some women take to help alleviate morning sickness during their pregnancy. Supervision is advisable when other herbs are combined with Dong Quai. These include:-

  1. Chinese skullcap (scutellaria baicalensis)
  2. Feverfew (chrysanthemum parthenium/tanacetum parthenium)
  3. Garlic (allium sativum)
  4. Ginkgo (ginkgo biloba)
  5. Ginseng (panax ginseng)
  6. Liquorice (glycyrrhiza glabra)
  7. Turmeric (curcuma longa)

Worth Considering

Although herbs are the most natural alternative to chemically-charged pharmaceutical drugs, care should still be taken if you choose to implement them in your lifestyle. In all cultures, herbs have been used for medicinal purposes for many centuries but there is still more to be discovered and learnt. Some herbs may be more beneficial or harmful from one person to another, and if you have an under-lying medical condition, extra care should be undertaken. If you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner or medical herbalist expert before self-administering herbs.


Street Talk

Dom Wells  

Are "Dong Quai" and "Tang Kuai" the same thing just with different english spelling?

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

That's right, sometimes the spelling is different but the pronunciation is the same. That's Chinese language for you!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Funny, just the other day I was talking to my good friend McK about the apiaceae family. Small word, huh? Your admirable writing skills are even more impressive than the helpful information you provided! I look forward to reading more of your work. :-)

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Thanks for your support Bill, I'm working on the next one as we speak!

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Hey Mck thanks for your positive feedback!...yeah this is quite an amazing little plant, my family have been using for some generations now...glad I could help in filling those blanks!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

I like your writing style. It's relaxed and informative at the same time. I had heard about chinese angelica, but now you have filled in all the blanks about this root. Keep up the great writing and you will go far, Teresa.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

I'm glad you included the pros and the cons. Quiet a few doctors in the US are becoming more aware of TCM

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Although they are the most natural thing on earth, I believe it's still important to understand the goodness and side effects of plants for our general well-being. Thanks for your positive input Colin.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thanks for having shown this plant. I enjoy reading about the beneficial nature of the plant kingdom and why these are here. Your article is very well-written and highly informative. One more new plant to learn about!

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Anytime Daniel, it is my quest to discover the amazing array of plants placed here on our beautiful earth and share it with everyone! Thanks for your positive comments.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Hi Teresa - Good Article and enjoyed the read - Keep up the Good work. Colin

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Hi Colin thanks for the positive feedback!

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Thanks for your positive feedback Colin!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Just a suggestion you should write an article about herbal tea or a keyword related to it and make sure the title of the article is in the first sentence of your article and you will get a good ranking from google. Good luck this is a good article keep up the good work

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Hi Tommy thanks for your advice and feedback!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Your welcome

  
  about 9 years ago
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