Though Dong Qua has long been thought to have hormone-like impacts or stimulate hormone production, most of its benefits likely come from the blood vessel dilation it causes.
Regardless of the mechanism, the outcomes are the same: women who drink mixed Dong Qua teas and tinctures (or take mixed Dong Qua tablets) may have shorter, less painful periods and experience fewer, less severe menopause symptoms (like hot flashes and night sweats). This is especially true for women suffering from PCOS and who get pre-menstrual migraines. What’s more, there is some evidence to suggest that preparations of Dong Qua may help “subfertile” women (whether for age-related or other reasons) get pregnant and carry a pregnancy to term.
Men who drink Dong Qua teas can’t expect the same benefits (obviously), but both men and women experience some level of increased metabolism/digestive function and increased red blood cell formation. Consequently, Dong Qua may make a good bitter, a laxative, a cardiovascular herb, and memory enhancer. Men can find relief from hot flashes too- theirs are from yin deficiency which happens to both genders. None of these are bad things, though more research is needed to find out the short- and long-term health impacts
Dong Quai is most commonly mixed with Szechwan Lovage, Chinese peony root, and prepared Rehmannia to make the classical blood deficiency formula Si Wu Tang. This formula is also a building block for other formulas like the combination with SI Junzi Tang for infertility and painful periods.
PREPARATION & ADMINISTRATION
Dong Qua root is mostly available sliced, in capsules and tablets, as well as pre-made extracts and tinctures. Dried, sliced Dong Qua root can also be used for brewing medicinal decoctions. The slices can be obtained wine-fried from a Chinese pharmacy to enhance circulation, as is commonly done.
Because it may cause diarrhea, Dong Qua isn’t recommended for those with soft stools. Additionally, Dong Qua may disturb clotting abilities of people taking blood thinners. Taking Dong Qua may also increase your sensitivity to sunlight, making you more likely to sunburn. People who run hot and dry are advised by Chinese medicine to avoid this warm herb.
You should consult with a certified herbalist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional before taking Dong Qua.
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