Dong Quai

dong KWAI

What are other names for this remedy?

Type of medicine: natural remedy

Scientific and common names: Angelica sinensis, Angelica polymorpha maxim, dong quai, dang-gui, chinese angelica, ligustilides, phytoestrogen, tan kue bai zhi, tang kuei

What is dong quai?

Dong quai is a plant with smooth purplish stems and umbrella-shaped clusters of white flowers. The roots of the dong quai are used to make medicines.

What is it used for?

This remedy has been used to treat several conditions. Studies in humans or animals have not proved that this remedy is safe or effective for all uses. Before using this remedy for a serious condition, you should talk with your healthcare provider.

Dong quai has been used to treat:

  • Allergies
  • Anemia
  • Constipation
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Menstrual disorders such as cramps, irregular menstrual cycles, infrequent periods, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and menopausal symptoms
  • Ulcers

This remedy has not been shown effective to treat hot flashes.

It has been used on the skin to treat skin discoloration and psoriasis and premature ejaculation.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve uses for natural remedies. The FDA does not inspect or regulate natural remedies the way they do prescription medicines.

How is it taken?

Dong quai can be taken by mouth as a tea, capsules, or liquid extract. It also comes as a cream to use on the skin. Check the label on the package for the specific dose.

What if I overdose?

Symptoms of an acute overdose have not been reported.

What should I watch out for?

Do not use dong quai if you have:

  • A bleeding disorder
  • Endometriosis or uterine fibroids
  • Hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer (this remedy has effects similar to the female hormone estrogen).

Also do not take dong quai if you are having ultraviolet treatments.

Dong quai may make your skin more sensitive to the sun, which may lead to painful sunburns. While you are taking this remedy, avoid long exposure to the sun. Wear protective clothing, a hat, and sunscreen lotion when you need to be outdoors. Do not use a sunlamp. If you get a severe sunburn, contact your healthcare provider right away.

Dong quai might increase the risk for skin cancer even without sun exposure if you take it in large amounts.

If you need emergency care, surgery, or dental work, tell the healthcare provider or dentist you are taking this medicine. Before you have surgery, stop taking this remedy. It may cause you to bleed more.

Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any natural remedy that you are using or thinking about using. If your provider does not tell you how to take it, follow the directions that come with the package. Do not take more or take it longer than recommended. Ask about anything you do not understand. Remember:

  • Natural remedies are not always safe.
  • You should not take them if you are pregnant or breast-feeding without your healthcare provider's approval. They should not be taken by infants, children, or older adults without your provider's approval.
  • They affect your body and may interact with prescription medicines that you take.
  • Natural remedies are not standardized and may be contaminated. They may have different strengths and effects.

What are the possible side effects?

Along with its desirable effects, this remedy may cause some unwanted side effects. Some side effects may be very serious. Some side effects may go away as your body adjusts to the remedy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that continue or get worse.

Life-threatening (Report these to your healthcare provider right away. If you cannot reach your healthcare provider right away, get emergency medical care or call 911 for help.): Allergic reaction (hives; itching; rash; trouble breathing; chest pain or tightness in your chest; swelling of your lips, tongue, and throat).

Serious (report these to your healthcare provider right away): Burns, rash, or blisters when exposed to the sun; skin cancer; unusual bruising or bleeding.

Other: Nausea, vomiting, stomach upset.

What products might interact with this remedy?

When you take this remedy with other medicines, it can change the way the remedy or the medicines work. Vitamins and certain foods may also interact. Using these products together might cause harmful side effects. Before taking this remedy, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking:

  • Hormone medicines such as estrogen, progesterone, and birth control pills
  • Medicine that reduces the chance of blood clots forming such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, and warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Natural remedies such as angelica, anise, arnica, asafoetida, capsicum, celery, chamomile, clove, fenugreek, fish oil, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, horse chestnut, horseradish, licorice, onion, papain, passionflower, red clover, turmeric, and willow
  • Raloxifene (Evista)
  • Tamoxifen (Soltamox)
  • Vitamin E

If you are not sure if your medicines might interact, ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider. Keep a list of all your medicines with you. List all the prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins that you take. Be sure that you tell all healthcare providers who treat you about all the products you are taking.


Keep all natural remedies and medicines out of the reach of children.

This advisory includes select information only. The information was obtained from scientific journals, study reports, and other documents. The author and publisher make no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the information. The advisory may not include all side effects associated with a remedy or interactions with other medicines. Nothing herein shall constitute a recommendation for the use of any remedy. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information.

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