Dang gui or angelica root is an herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat a variety of complaints. It is also sometimes known as the “women's ginseng,” because it is used specifically to treat many female complaints. Dang gui is one of the most widely used Chinese herbs, appearing in a range of popular tonics as well as on its own. Most Chinese herbalists have dang gui readily available, and some Chinese markets carry it as well.
Angelica sinensis has been used in TCM for thousands of years. The herb affects the liver, lung, and kidney meridians. It is often used as a blood purifier and tonic, and it appears to be effective in the treatment of dysmenorrhea. It has also been used as an abortifacient and in general tonics for female health and wellness. It is also used to treat anemia, since it is said to stimulate blood flow and the flow of energy. Men may use dang gui as a general blood tonic.
Oral dang gui is also used to treat digestive problems like bloating and intestinal discomfort. Many people drink dang gui tonic daily to promote intestinal health. Topical applications of the herb are used to reduce swelling and pain, and to treat general skin conditions. The herb can stimulate circulation and warm the skin when applied topically, so it is sometimes used in treatment of rheumatism and gout.
A number of forms of dang gui are available. Many markets sell the dried root, which can be ground into powder, stewed in teas and tonics, or eaten straight, just like many people eat ginseng. Distilled tonics of dang gui can also be found, sometimes with other herbs blended in for the treatment of specific conditions. Chinese herbalists may also carry dang gui powder and pills for convenient measured dosing.
It is important to remember that TCM is a very complex and ancient practice. A practitioner of TCM will go through a number of steps before diagnosing a patient and recommending a particular herb or course of treatment. Although these herbs are available for individual sale, you may wish to consult an herbalist to ensure that you are using the best herb for your condition. You may also have an underlying medical condition which should be addressed, and you should always consult a doctor if symptoms do not abate or if they get worse. In all cases, disclose all drugs and herbal medications that you are on to a health care provider, as this information is vitally necessary when treatment options are being considered.