Dong quai is a traditional Chinese herb people use for medicinal purposes. It may be helpful in menstrual disorders but can be dangerous in combination with certain drugs. More research is necessary.

Dong quai or dang gui (Angelica sinensis) is a perennial herb native to China. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Practitioners sometimes refer to it as the “female ginseng” or “women’s tonic” due to its traditional use in women’s health.

Dong quai contains phytoestrogens, which are plant-based compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body to some extent. This estrogenic activity may help regulate hormonal imbalances in females, but more research is necessary.

Dong quai preparations usually include the plant’s root, which contains the highest concentration of the bioactive compounds responsible for its therapeutic effects.

This article discusses dong quai’s uses, the conditions it may help, its possible side effects, and precautions.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

Was this helpful?
Close up of hands handling dong quai root-1Share on Pinterest
Getty Images

Jennifer Etheridge LAc. Dipl.OM, a board certified diplomate in Oriental medicine uses dong quai primarily for “tonifying” or nourishing blood.

Etheridge said: “I frequently use dang gui as part of a formula for addressing gynecological complaints, such as irregular menstrual cycles, amenorrhea or scanty periods, and pain. However, this herb is also invaluable for treating conditions like anemia, dizziness, limb numbness, and palpitations, particularly during the menstrual cycle. I also use dang gui for men when they present with a ‘blood deficient’ pattern.”

Etheridge also explained how dong quai may improve wound healing: “Dang Gui can be added to formulas for nonhealing wounds or abscesses because it both tonifies and invigorates blood, reduces swelling, and speeds the healing process.”

Conditions that dong quai may help

TCM herbal practitioners may recommend dong quai for several conditions, including:

Learn about menopause supplements.

TCM practitioners usually combine dong quai with other ingredients to tailor formulas to individuals’ needs. Etheridge explained: “Practitioners choose Chinese herbs that work synergistically together. Combining them helps mitigate any side effects someone may experience from taking larger doses of single herbs.”

TCM practitioners usually create tailored formulas containing dong quai that people can make into tea.

Dong quai is also available to purchase in various forms, such as:

Capsules or tablets

Dong quai is available in capsules or tablets, which can be convenient for people who prefer a standardized dose. It is important to follow the dosing instructions on the label, as the recommended dosage may vary depending on the brand and product.


Dong quai tinctures are liquid herb extracts, often containing alcohol or glycerin. People can take tinctures by diluting the recommended amount in water or another beverage. Again, it is important for people to follow the dosing instructions on the tincture bottle.


People can buy dong quai root as a powder to mix into smoothies, juices, or other beverages. Individuals must follow the recommended dosage on the product label.

It is best for people to consult a qualified TCM practitioner to ensure they receive the correct guidance and most effective formulations of dong quai. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has a searchable registry in the United States.

Commercially available dong quai products provide dosing instructions on the product label. The appropriate dosage can vary depending on the specific product and the condition a person wants to treat.

People considering taking dong quai should consult a qualified TCM practitioner. They will consider a person’s general health, current medication, and supplement use before recommending dong quai.

People should follow these precautions if considering using dong quai:

  • Pregnancy: Dong quai is unsuitable for use during pregnancy, as it may affect the uterus. If a person takes it within the first 3 months of pregnancy, it may also lead to congenital abnormalities.
  • Bleeding disorders: Dong Quai may slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding and bruising in people with bleeding disorders.
  • Estrogen-sensitive conditions: People with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids, should avoid dong quai. It acts similarly to estrogen and may worsen these conditions.
  • Nursing: Doctors are unsure whether dong quai is safe during breastfeeding, or chestfeeding, so people should avoid using it.
  • Surgery: People should stop taking dong quai 2 weeks before planned surgery as it might increase the risk of bleeding.

Prolonged or excessive use of dong quai may cause side effects.

Taking dong quai alongside certain medications may be unsafe.

Dong quai and blood-thinning medications, such as Warfarin, slow blood clotting. Therefore, people who have blood thinners should not take dong quai.

In addition, dong quai, in conjunction with anticoagulants and antiplatelets, may increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.

People need to discuss current medication use with a qualified practitioner before taking dong quai.

Interactions with herbs and supplements

People should avoid dong quai alongside supplements that slow blood clotting, such as:

Learn about the vitamins and minerals females need.

As dong quai is a supplement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate it. This means more research into its side effects is necessary.

Side effects may include:

Dong quai is an herb whose use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) dates back thousands of years.

Qualified TCM practitioners may combine dong quai with other herbs to relieve menstrual and menopausal symptoms, relieve pain, or improve blood circulation. However, there is no reliable evidence to support its use in pharmacology.

Dong quai may worsen hormone-sensitive conditions and pose a danger for people taking blood-thinning medications, such as Warfarin. To ensure the most effective use, people should consult a qualified TCM practitioner before taking dong quai.