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Hello friends and fellow plant-lovers!

Ladies, this herbal profile is for you. Today, I’m sharing one of the most popular herbs in Chinese medicine, and one of the leading herbal helpers in menstruation and estrogen balance– Chinese Angelica! Second perhaps only to Ginseng in traditional Chinese medicine, Dong quai has been used for centuries to support a regular menstrual cycle and ease the pains that often come along with it. This variation of Angelica also helps older women transition into menopause, addressing symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats. It’s truly a girl-power herb, and a perfect one to profile for International Women’s Week!

Chinese Angelica’s Traditional Uses

Chinese Angelica goes by many names, each indicative of its qualities and esteemed position in Chinese medicine. The name “Dong quai” is derived from the term “dang gui”, which means “proper order”, a reference to the herb’s ability to bring hormonal homeostasis to the female body. C.Angelica is also called “female ginseng” and “empress of herbs”, as it is used to treat many issues related to menstruation. Not only used medicinally, Dong quai is often used to make soups and tea, as well as an active flavoring agent in liqueurs, such as Chartreuse and gin.

Identifying Chinese Angelica

Chinese Angelica, botanical name Angelica sinesis, is in the family Apiaceae, and native to China. Closely related to Angelica archangelica, Angelica’s European form, Chinese angelica is distinguishable in two ways– one physical, and the other constituent-related. Instead of the lime-green blossoms that European Angelica displays in the spring, Chinese Angelica has white ones, making it appear very similarly to Queen Anne’s Lace to the untrained eye.

Chinese Angelica grows in the cool, high altitude mountain ranges of the Asian continent, differing slightly from the damp, water-saturated areas that European Angelica prefers. The hollow stalk grows up to 8 feet tall, and its leaves are subdivided into bunches of three on each stem, with the leaves themselves being in three parts as well, serrated along their edges, and a medium green. The blossoms are white, and grouped into large, globular umbels, or clusters. The root is yellow-brown in color, with a multitude of smaller, squid tentacle-like roots coming off the taproot.

Healing Attributes of Chinese Angelica

The key actions of Dong quai are as a female reproductive tonic, menstrual-pain reliever, and as a digestive tonic. The phytoestrogens present in the plant are the constituents that are credited with addressing the negative symptoms of menstruation. The root is the medicinally-active part of the plant, which makes wildcrafting for this herb particularly delicate, as a plant cannot survive without its root. Make sure to adhere to the general rule of thumb if harvesting a wild bunch of dong quai- evaluate the health of the growth, and if it’s in good condition, make sure to take less than 10% of the population.

You can take Chinese angelica as a decoction, tincture, capsule or tablet– if you consume it in decoction or tincture form, the dosage is 2-4 grams a day, or 30 grams a week. If taken as a capsule or tablet, always follow dosage instruction given by the product itself. See the list below to learn how you can make your next cycle all the easier with the help of Dong quai!

  • Scant menstrual bleeding- Decoction, tincture or capsule of Chinese angelica
  • Irregular cycle- Tincture or decoction of Chinese angelica
  • Sore breasts- Decoction, tincture or capsule of Chinese angelica
  • Menopausal problems-Decoction, tincture or capsule of Chinese angelica

Chinese angelica is not recommended to women who are trying to become or are pregnant, as the relaxing effects on the uterine walls can lead to possible miscarriage. To relieve menstrual pains, Chaste berry and Black cohosh are often used in conjunction with Chinese angelica for increased effect, both of which I’ll be profiling down the road!

I hope you found this entry informative and helpful! I know what herb I’ll be going to the next time Mother Nature comes around. Please let me know in the comments below if you have any experience or thoughts about Chinese angelica, as I’m always looking to learn more about these beautiful, helpful herbs!

Cheers + Celery root,

Katharine