For the last two days, I told you about ginseng, which is known as the King of all Herbs. I told you about how remarkable an herb it is in terms of its healthful benefits.
Today, I want to tell you about an herb that is second only to ginseng in popularity in Chinese Herbal Medicine. Because of this, I have crowned it the Queen of all Herbs.
This herb is Dang Gui, also known as Dong Quai and Tang Kuei. It’s Latin name is Angelica Sinensis.
It is also called the female ginseng, because of its prized value in women’s health, but it is an herb that is not just for women.
Like ginseng, Dang Gui has adaptogenic properties, which means that it helps you deal with stress and the effects stress has on the body. Like all adaptogens, it strengthens the immune system and balances the autonomic nervous system.
Dang gui has been used historically to treat women’s health disorders.
It contains phytoestrogens, which are chemicals found in plants that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body.
Dang gui is said to help balance women’s hormone levels, both restraining and supplementing the body’s production of estrogen as needed. It is used to treat menstrual and menopausal symptoms, including migraine, cramps, mood fluctuations, and hot flashes. It is also said to help speed a woman’s recovery from childbirth and symptoms of low energy/chronic fatigue.
Dang gui helps relax the smooth muscles throughout the body, which makes it a potential treatment for a variety of illnesses. Not only does dang gui relax the smooth muscles of the uterus, but it also keeps the smooth muscles in the arteries dilated, helping to maintain regular blood flow and heartbeat.
Dang gui has been used to treat angina, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat. Some studies have shown that the antispasmodic, dilating effects of dang gui may help treat chronic pulmonary hypertension in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Dang gui contains phytochemicals that help boost white blood cell production and fight inflammation, and may improve liver and kidney function. It is traditionally used to treat inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, and is currently being studied for its ability to prevent or treat cancer, liver and kidney disease.
Like ginseng, dang gui can also be used as an aphrodisiac.
Interestingly, dang gui possesses the distinction of being one of the few good non-animal sources of Vitamin B12.
In Chinese Herbal Medicine, dang gui is in the category of blood tonic. It is believed to strengthen the yin and blood, and is a core ingredient in many women’s health herbal formulas.
It can help to regulate the menstrual cycle, relieve menstrual pains and cramps, and is an ideal tonic for women with heavy menstrual bleeding who risk becoming anemic.
One of the most famous formulas in Chinese Herbal Medicine is Si Wu Tang, which is Four Substance Decoction. It contains dang gui; bai shao, which is white peony; chuan xiong, which is ligusticum; and shu di huang, which is Chinese Rehmannia.
This is a time-honored formula that tonifies the blood, and is used for many women’s health issues.
This formula is the base formula, and can either be used by itself or in some variation.
One of the most famous variations is a formula that strengthens both the qi and blood. This formula’s name is Ba Zhen Tang, or Eight-Treasure Decoction. It consists of dang gui and all the ingredients of Si Wu Tang listed above.
It also contains ginseng; licorice; fu ling; which is poria; and bai zhu, which is atractylodis.
This formula is another famous formula in the annals of Chinese Herbal Medicine.
Dang gui is also often used in China as an ingredient in cooking, which is an excellent way to take it in and use it as a blood tonic.
And so, if you include dang gui in your herbal arsenal, it will help enhance your health and wellness, let you experience healthy living, and allow you to live a Low Density Lifestyle.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Joan Weed says
Enjoy the articles. Where can one purchase ginseng, don quai etc.
Michael Wayne says
If you’re looking for them in whole dried form, you can buy them at a Chinese herbal pharmacy, and possibly a Chinese grocery. You can also check with acupuncturists or Chinese medicine herbalists to see if they carry the herbs. (I as a practitioner of Chinese medicine do carry them.)
You can also look online to see if you can get them. If you can’t find them this way, you can check health food stores or herbal shops to see if they would have them in tincture or other form.
Aristo Tacoma says
Hi, I enjoy your description of herbs. I have read elsewhere that scientists have failed to come up with a vegan source of B12, which is an excessively complex molecule known to be made only by deep-sea microbes. Do you have any information (or references) which indicate that the Dang Gui is growing in soil which somehow has become saturated with B12, so that it picks it up from there, or is there (even slightly) a chance that it is having the unique capacity of putting together this B12 cobalamin molecule all on its own? (Greatly interested in any answer, also, if you like, by email, and I will ensure that my search engine lists your site well within October’12.)
Michael Wayne says
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. B12 is an interesting vitamin, in that there are differing ideas as to how to get enough of it. The U.S. RDA is very small, the recommended dosage for adults is 2.4 micrograms. Another aspect of the Vitamin B12 story is that, even if you take in enough, your body won’t properly absorb it unless the body’s intrinsic factor is functioning properly. Intrinsic factor is a glycoprotein produced by the stomach that is necessary for the absorption of B12 by the small intestine. People who have chronic health problems, especially of an auto-immune nature (and ultimately, all chronic health issues are auto-immune issues), may create autoantibodies that weaken the intrinsic factor, and thus hamper the absorption of B12. The flip side of that is people who are healthy with strong and vital immune systems may be able to transmute the foods they are eating with the help of intrinsic factor and create and satisfy their B12 needs. That’s because the source of B!2 is anerobic bacteria found in soil, along with sewage, manure and mud. It is said that there is no vegan source of B!2, and that to get B12 you must eat animal foods. This is said not because animals create their own B12, but because they eat soil, sewage, manure and/or mud. It is possible that fermented foods – miso, sauerkraut, unpasteurized yogurt, and other foods – may contain B12. And it is believed by some sources that some herbs contain B12. Dang gui, which is an adaptogen, is said to be one of these herbs. According to the well-known herbalist Ron Teegarden, http:www.yahwehsaliveandwell.com/danggui.html, Dang gui contains B12 – scroll down the article to find where he mentions B12.
abhishek pareek says
Can i use dang gui as a local muscle relaxant
Michael Wayne says
Yes, you can.
Can I use dang gui when I suffer from excessive yin?
Michael Wayne says
You most definitely can. The question with excessive yin is also, what is the condition of the yang? You want to make sure you’ll balancing both.
I am about to start taking Dang Gui as part of a combination of herbs to balance my hormones, as an adaptogenic is it safe for someone like me with estrogen dominance?
Michael Wayne says
Yes, dang gui would be safe for you Ana. Dang gui definitely balances the hormones, so it can bring into balance an estrogen dominance, or for that matter a testosterone balance.
Marisa Santella says
What is the recommended dosing ?
Depends on what form of the herb you’re using. In capsules or pills, two or three a day. If you’re using the whole herb, then 9 to 12 grams that you cook for a half hour in 5 cups of water.