Women’s Health: Better with Dong Quai
Dong quai comes from a perennial plant that comes from the celery family, and has fragrant, umbrella-shaped flowers. In July and August, the plant bears pretty, winged fruits. Although the plant is beautiful, it is the roots that hold the good stuff. Dong quai has been used for thousands of years in traditional remedies in many Asian cultures. It is also known as angelica, tang kuei, tang kwei, or dang gui. According to legend, dong quai received its name after an angel revealed herself to a medieval European monk and taught him the medicinal virtues of angelica.
The dong quai herb promotes proper balance of women’s hormones and reproductive cycle. Traditional Chinese medicine uses dong quai in numerous ways — in fact, it’s one of the key ingredients in “Four Things Soup”, a widely used women’s tonic.
Dong quai is sometimes referred to as “female ginseng,” due on its use for many women’s issues, such as painful menstruation, pelvic pain and recovery from childbirth.
It can be also used for strengthening what the Chinese call “xue” (shwā), a way they refer to what we know as blood, but in Chinese culture, it is more like the life force. Dong quai is used to treat iron deficiency and anemia, because the cobalt in dong quai is believed to increase the hemoglobin content of your blood. Hemoglobin is the protein in your blood that contains iron and carries oxygen to cells and carbon dioxide from them. It is used for cardiovascular conditions, high blood pressure, inflammation and other maladies.
Dong quai has a slight taste of anise, and the seed oil can be used as a flavoring. The liqueur Benedictine is flavored with the leaves of the European species of the plant.
The roots contain ferulic acid, a natural muscle relaxer and pain reliever. It works by causing the uterus to relax, then briefly stimulates the uterine muscles, helping to improve muscle tone. All muscles work better when they are well toned, including the uterus. A strong, healthy uterus is less prone to muscle spasms and cramps.
Ferulic acid also appears to relax the heart muscles, lower blood pressure, and calm cardiac arrhythmias, a variation in the normal rhythm of the heartbeat.
Dong quai has also shown results in treating allergies and respiratory problems.
Several chemical agents in dong quai may have an antihistamine and antiserotonin effect. Histamines, serotonin, and other substances are released by the body as a response to something irritating it, like pollen, dust, animal dander and other things that may trigger allergies. Antihistamine drugs target these symptoms, which would explain dong quai's anti-allergy effects.
The roots also contain phytoestrogens, which are chemicals found in plants that mimic the effects of estrogen. The name dong quai translates to “proper order,” which is what it helps do to restore hormonal balance in women. The phytoestrogens in dong quai help to regulate estrogen levels, both restraining and supplementing the body’s production of estrogen as needed. It has the ability to reduce your estrogen levels if they are too high and can increase them if they are too low.
Enhances fertility. Only a generation ago, infertility was rare, but now it takes the average woman up to18 months to conceive. Women often seek the help of expensive fertility specialists and undergo painful procedures when an antifungal diet and an herb like dong quai may be all that are needed.
Keeps you beautiful and youthful. Chinese women are known for their age-defying youthfulness, and dong quai may be a big part of it. Dong Quai preserves your natural beauty by encouraging health from the inside out.
Helps you feel happier! Dong quai is effective at reducing anxiety and could be useful to help you combat stress and reduce the severity of mood swings. It has a calming effect on your nervous system and promotes relaxation.
Dong quai should not be used by people with bleeding disorders, excessive menstrual bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, or during infections such as colds and flu.
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