What really works to prevent urinary tract infections, night sweats, irregular periods, migraines, cancer, heart disease, and more.
Lorie A. Parch
4 of 9 | DONG QUAI (Angelica sinensis)
BEST FOR: General female wellness. Also known as angelica root or dang quai, this Chinese herb is often called the 'female ginseng' because of its usefulness in treating irregular periods, fatigue, and premenstrual irritability and anxiety, says Dana Price, D.O.M., L.Ac., DipI.OM, founder of the Southwest Center for Oriental Medicine in Phoenix. Scientists aren't clear on how it works; dong quai may have a weak estrogenic effect, but this remains unconfirmed. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dong quai is used in combination with other herbs to strengthen the blood of people with excess yin energy; females are generally more yin than yang, according to the ancient practice. HOW TO TAKE IT: TCM is highly individualized, so it's best to consult an accredited specialist for a correct herbal prescription, explains Price. Dong quai is always used in combination with other herbs and is an integral part of a common blood-toning formula called Si Wu Tang, says Price. If, however, you wish to take dong quai on its own: Steep 1 teaspoon crushed root in 8 ounces boiling water for 10 to 20 minutes, then drink as a tea. Or, as Price recommends, consume two to four milliliters of tincture daily. "Choose high-quality, American-made products for the best results," she explains. SAFETY ISSUES: Avoid dong quai if you're pregnant—it can stimulate uterine contractions, warns Price. "It may also cause diarrhea and/or abdominal distension," she says. If you're on a blood thinner such as warfarin, you shouldn't use this herb. Dong quai can increase your sensitivity to sunlight, so be sure to wear sunscreen.