Herb Name: Dong Quai. 當歸 (Dāng Guī)
(also called Chinese Angelica Root, Female Ginseng, or Angelica Sinensis by scientific name)
- Dong Quai is an important medicinal plant indigenous to China. It is the dried root of a perennial plant that is cultivated in both China and Japan for culinary and medicinal use.
- The plant typically grows to about 2 meters tall, with hollow stems that bear small white flowers.
- Whole dried dong quai roots are hard, and can have a diameter of up to 2.5″ thick. Hence, these roots can be found sold in pre-cut slices in addition to whole root forms. The dong quai in the photo above came pre-sliced in a box for fast and easy cooking.
- The dong quai herb taste rather like ginseng – sweet, pungent, with a light bitter flavor.
Dong Quai Nutrition, Benefits and Uses:
- Dong quai has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, mostly to relieve symptoms of gynecological conditions such as menstruation pain, recovery from childbirth, menopause, and fatigue / low vitality.
- Although dong quai is often used by women, this herb is also consumed by men.
- In Chinese medicine, dong quai is a mildly warming herb that nourishes the blood and invigorates blood circulation. It is believed to help regulate menstrual cycles, and strengthen the heart, liver, and spleen.
- Dong quai is commonly used with other herbs in Chinese confinement soups and tonic soups to improve vitality, menopausal or other gynecological ailments.
- Dong quai is also used in medicinal formulas prescribed by a Chinese doctor.
- See here also for a list of recipes using the dong quai herb.
- To prepare whole dong quai for cooking, soak them for a few minutes in cold water before rinsing them under water. Depending on the roots’ thickness, cook time can be 2 hours or more. Follow your recipe for cook time.
- To prepare pre-sliced dong quai for cooking, rinse them very briefly under cold water. Cook time can be significantly shorter – typically 20 to 30 minutes will do.
Where to Buy Dong Quai:
- Whole and pre-sliced dong quai can be purchased in Chinese herb stores, and some large Asian supermarkets.
- Dong quai can also be purchased online. Shop around for sizes and cuts that suit your needs. I found these organic and cut dong quai certified by the USDA you can consider.
- Pregnant women should not use dong quai during pregnancy.
- As with any foods and herbs, dong quai should be used in moderation. Consuming too much dong quai can cause heatiness, with symptoms like dry mouth, dry nose, nose bleed, and sore throat.
How do you use your Dong Quai? Leave a comment below to share your ideas.
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Further reading: MayoClinic, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs