After working in a vitamin store for a year, I found myself intrigued and fascinated with the idea of herbal medicine. There is one herb that I make sure to not let leave my bathroom cabinet for any amount of time; Dong Quai. While this herb has a huge number of beneficial properties, I can’t help but stress from personal experience how wonderful Dong Quai is for Dysmenorrhea (or painful menstruation cramps).
I’m sure every woman, at one time has had a painful menstruation. Sometimes a little Ibuprofen or even some Midol does the trick, but if you are like me then you find yourself taking more and more of these hourly and eventually their effectiveness wear off. Surely there must be something more natural that your body can use without developing a dependency on it. It was during a particularly painful time at work that I finally pulled down their herbal book and took a look at what was available at the store since I was stuck working that night with nobody to call in.
What I found was Dong Quai. It is one item my medicine cabinet will never be without again.
What is Dong Quai?
Dong Quai, often referred to as “female ginseng”, is actually part of the celery family and is native to China, Japan and Korea. The root of the Dong Quai herb has been used for thousands of years in china as a cure-all for women during their menstruation. The Dong Quai herb has been found to be useful in helping with Irregular Menstruation, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), Dysmenorrhea and even Menopause.
The Dong Quai plant has purple stems and small white flowers that umbrella out from the stem, but it is the thick brown root that is used. The root itself looks very familiar to the Ginseng herb which is partially why it is often called “female ginseng”. The root can be turned into a powder, tablet or even a liquid to take. I personally take the capsules that contain the powder form and find this works best for my body.
How much Dong Quai to take?
As with many Natural Remedies, there is no exact dosage you should take as everybody’s body is different and will react differently to what you introduce to it. The vitamin store that I had worked in carried Dong Quai in 3 different strengths; 40mg and 530mg capsules that had the powdered form inside as well as the liquid extract.
Looking at the numbers, it’s easy to ask why there is such a big difference in the doses. The answer is also a simple one, it depends on what you are using it for. In my personal experience with Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), I take the 530mg. When the pain first comes, I take two capsules, then take an additional one every 4-6 hours afterwards or when the pain returns. I do not continue to take Dong Quai after my menstruation, but rather only use it when I am cramping.
Now I have also sold many, many bottles of the 40mg dosage, but what I have found is that most women who are taking that dosage are taking it to help with Menopause. They take a capsule two or three times a day and it helps balance their hormones. It works great when taken with Soy Isoflavones.
Unfortunately, I have not personally sold the liquid extract so I have not been able to speak with people who take the Dong Quai herb in that form, but I have read that it takes quite a bit (5ml, two or three times a day) to receive the same benefits as the capsules that contain the powder. While it doesn’t sound like a lot, the only bottle available in my store only contained 10ml of the extract – which left only two doses.
Who should not take the Dong Quai herb?
Women who are pregnant or breast feeding should stay well away from Dong Quai. It has been used long ago as a way to induce miscarriages. The effects of Dong Quai on infants are unknown as little testing has been done on this herb. If there is a chance you may be pregnant please consult your doctor before taking Dong Quai.
As this is vastly considered a “woman’s herb”, I would probably advise men to stay away from it as well, especially considering it helps with menopause and the production of estrogen and balancing of hormones.
The University of Maryland Medical Center