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Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after. – Dr. Robert Anthony

Apr 22, 2009

Fertility and Dong Quai

I thought about writing a little bit more about the herbs I took to get pregnant.
I developed for myself, a special regim I followed diligently over about two years (after that I got pregnant), including exercise and taking special vitamins, herbs, supplements and maca

I will start today with some information about Dong Quai.
I have started taking it because I have read that it’s been used for promoting reproductive health and hormonal balance.
I was lucky to be pretty healthy, not taking any medication, therefore it was a safe choice for me.
Before start taking it, please read carefully about drug interactions and evaluate if it’s a suitable alternative for you.

Dong quai ( Angelica sinensis ) root has been used for over a thousand years as a spice, tonic, and medicine in China, Korea and Japan. Although there are few definitive studies on dong quai, it is reputed to relieve constipation, increase red blood cell count (which helps treat anemia), and provide relief from menstrual disorders such as cramps, irregular menstrual cycles, infrequent periods, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and menopausal symptoms. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is used for various purposes, including reproductive, circulatory, and respiratory conditions.

Dong quai contains, among others, ferulic acid, a pain reliever and muscle relaxer. Indeed, the herb is often used to treat painful menstrual cramps or other cases of uterine spasms. Oddly enough, several studies have shown that dong quai acts as a muscle relaxant overall, but before it relaxes the uterus, it stimulates the uterus briefly. The uterus is a muscle, and when dong quai stimulates it, its tone improves and it becomes tight and contracts more readily.

All muscles function better when they are well toned, and the uterus is no exception. A well-toned, strong, healthy uterus is less prone to cramps and muscle spasms. In addition to relaxing the uterus, ferulic acid also may relax the heart muscles, lower blood pressure, and calm cardiac arrhythmias (a variation in the normal rhythm of the heartbeat).

Precautions:

Because dong quai dilates the blood vessels and improves circulation in the uterus, regular use can sometimes make menstrual flow heavier – in China, dong quai is called a “blood mover.” Many herbalists recommend stopping the use of dong quai during the actual menstrual period in women prone to heavy flow or if heavy bleeding is a concern.

Do not use dong quai if you take blood-thinning or high blood pressure medication.

Dong quai should not be used during pregnancy because it may affect the muscular functioning of the uterus. It should also be avoided by nursing mothers, because there is little information about its effect on the infant through breast milk.

Hormone medications
Although there is little research on the use of dong quai with hormone medications — such as estrogens, progesterones, oral contraceptives, tamoxifen or raloxifene — health care providers advise against using them together, due to the possibility of adverse effects, unless you are under the supervision of a doctor.

Blood-thinning herbs
Although reported extremely rarely and not published in the scientific literature, the practice of combining dong quai with other herbs that thin the blood could possibly increase the risk of bleeding in some people. The following herbs with this potential when combined with dong quai — and which should be used only with caution and under the supervision of a doctor include:
• Feverfew ( Tanacetum parthenium )
• Garlic ( Allium sativum )
• Ginger ( Zingiber officinale )
• Ginkgo ( Ginkgo biloba )
• Ginseng ( Panax ginseng )
• Licorice ( Glycyrrhiza glabra )
• Chinese skullcap ( Scutellaria baicalensis )
• Turmeric ( Curcuma longa )

This is what you should do:

– Search the net for the best quality product. I am not here to endorse any company and I can’t honestly remember which one I took. I would suggest taking it as a tincture or powder, not tablets. The processing method of making tablets could lower the quality of the herb.
– Take it before and after your period; take a break while having your period


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