||Dang gui / Angelica
by Brian Benjamin Carter
may be helpful to know the many names of Dang Gui (pronounced
Dong Gway), so we all know what herb we're talking about.
||(Quan) Dang Gui
||Radix Angelicae Sinensis
||Chinese angelica root
As you can see, Dang Gui,
Dong Kwai and Angelica Root are the same thing. I will refer to
them as Angelica.
Angelica has achieved notoriety as a women's
herb. It has even been called the "Woman's ginseng."
This is a misleading characterization, however, as the two herbs
have completely different functions. Although it does not boost
the qi like Ginseng does, Angelica does have actions specifically
important to women:
Angelica tonifies the blood and regulates menstruation.
If you are blood deficient, this is a very good herb (Blood deficiency
is a general Chinese Medicine diagnosis which can include, but
is not always, anemia. Blood deficiency often manifests
as pale skin, dryness, anxiety, insomnia, constipation, and poor
memory). It is one of the most important herbs to deal with blood
deficiency. It is commonly used for menstrual disorders resulting
from a blood deficiency. This could manifest as irregular menstruation,
not menstruating at all, or painful or difficult menstruation.
Angelica invigorates the blood and expels cold. There may be pain due to stagnant blood, which may manifest as abdominal
pain, or carbuncles (boils with multiple drainage channels). Blood
stasis may be caused by trauma, or cold from deficiency. Because
Dang Gui is warming, however, people with heat conditions should
avoid it unless it is part of a formula balanced for their condition.
Angelica moistens the intestines and unblocks
the bowels. One uncomfortable result of blood deficiency
is constipation. Angelica is not appropriate for all types
of constipation, however. In Oriental Medicine there are
many treatments for what seem to be the same symptoms, because
we design our treatments based on the cause (the "root,"
not the "branch").For example, Western Medicine recognizes
'Asthma,' while Oriental medicine recognizes at least four types
of Asthma, each requiring a different treatment.
Angelica reduces swelling, expels pus, generates
flesh, and alleviates pain. By tonifying and invigorating
the blood, Angelica can treat sores and abscesses (pus filled
sores surrounded by dead or inflamed tissue).
Who should not take Angelica?
- Anyone with diarrhea and/or abdominal
bloating - Angelica, like most blood tonics, is very
substantial so it is hard on the digestion. It may cause indigestion
and for this reason it is usually combined in formulas with
herbs to strengthen the Stomach.
- People with yin deficient heat
(mouth dryness, emaciation, irritability/anger, restlessness,
feelings of heat, sweating at night, flush only on cheeks, sensation
of fever in the afternoon); if you have some or all of these
symptoms, Angelica will hurt more than help.
The good stuff
High quality Angelica is big, long, moist, oily, and aromatic.
Avoid dry, and/or greenish/brown samples.
Angelica appears to regulate contractions of the uterus,
but does not appear to have any estrogenic effect. It
may protect the liver. It lowers blood pressure, reduces heart
plaque formation, inhibits bacteria (antibiotic), sedates the
central nervous system, and alleviates certain types of pain.