Dang Gui is a well-known Chinese herb that has been used in the treatment of female ailments for thousands of years. Its reputation is perhaps second only to ginseng (Panax ginseng) and it is particularly noted for its ‘blood tonic’ effects on women. The root has a sweet pungent aroma that is very distinctive and it is often used in cooking, which is the best way to take it as a blood tonic. One report says that the root contains vitamin B12 and can be used in the treatment of pernicious anaemia.
The root is alterative, analgesic, anticholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, deobstruent, emmenagogue, emollient, hepatic, laxative, sedative and peripheral vasodilator[165, 176, 218]. It is commonly used in the treatment of a wide range of women’s complaints where it regulates the menstrual cycle and relieves period pain[218, 238, 254] and also to ensure a healthy pregnancy and easy delivery. It is an ideal tonic for women with heavy menstruation who risk becoming anaemic. The water-soluble and non-volatile elements of the root increase the contraction of the uterus whilst the volatile elements can relax the muscle of the uterus. Its use prevents the decrease of liver glycogen and protects the liver. It has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of various bacteria including Bacillus dysenteriae, Bacillus typhi, B. comma, B. cholerae and haemolytic streptococci.
The root is an ingredient of ‘Four Things Soup’, the most widely used woman’s tonic in China. The other species used are Rehmannia glutinosa, Ligusticum wallichii and Paeonia lactiflora.
The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.