Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)
Complementary Therapies, Herbs, and other OTC Agents
By Guest Editor Barrie Cassileth, PhD1 |
January 20, 2011
1 Laurance S. Rockefeller Chair and Chief, Integrative Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
ALSO KNOWN AS: Chinese angelica, dang gui, tang kuei, tan kue.
BACKGROUND: Dong quai is a perennial herb native to China, Japan and Korea; its root has been used for thousands of years as medicine. Often combined with other herbs in compound formulations, dong quai is still widely used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat menstrual and menopausal disorders, and to improve circulation. Dong quai is available as a dietary supplement in both tablet and powder form. It is promoted as a "woman's herb."
RESEARCH: In vitro studies indicate that dong quai has anti-tumor, anti-tuberculosis, and neuroprotective effects. In animal models, dong quai demonstrated hematopoietic properties and protective effects against cyclophosphamide(Drug information on cyclophosphamide)-induced toxicity, doxorubicin(Drug information on doxorubicin)-induced cardiotoxicity, and radiation-induced pneumonitis. A growth factor isolated from this herb has been shown to promote wound healing and regenerate bone tissue. These effects have not been evaluated in humans.
Dong quai also exhibits estrogenic activity and stimulates proliferation of MCF-7 cells, a human breast cancer cell line. However, clinical trial data regarding the effects of dong quai on menopausal symptoms are inconclusive.[11-13] Dong quai did not alleviate vasomotor symptoms in prostate cancer patients receiving androgen deprivation therapy. Further research is needed to evaluate the efficacy of this agent.
ADVERSE REACTIONS: Reported adverse events include bloating, loss of appetite, diarrhea, photosensitivity, and gynecomastia.
HERB-DRUG INTERACTIONS: Dong quai can potentiate the effects of anticoagulants because of its coumarin content.
For additional information, visit the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Integrative Medicine Service website, “About Herbs,” at http://www.mskcc.org/AboutHerbs.
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