Chinese Name : 当归
Latin Name : Radix Angelica sinensis
Angelica sinensis (oliv.) diels of the family Umbelliferae has a fleshy fusiform root. It grows mainly in the Gansu, Guizhou, Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces of China, and is harvested in the late autumn. The rootlets are removed and it is smoke dried on gentle heat, sliced, and used unprocessed or stir baked with wine.
Chinese angelica is a well-known gynecological medicine, traditionally used to promote blood circulation and to treat menstrual cramps, and chlorotic and puerperal diseases of women. It is also used to treat hemorrhages of all kinds, colds, dyspeptic complaints, and ague, as well as many other health problems. Chinese angelica is one of the best known and most consumed Chinese herbs in China and the United States. It is a powerful blood tonic and antiaging medical herb.
Use of Chinese Angelica Root in TCM
Sweet and pungent in taste, and warm, it acts on the liver, heart, and spleen meridians.
Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations
- Treat female menstrual ailments:
- For irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, menorrhalgia, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), metrorrhagia, infertility, and menopause, Chinese angelica can be used alone, as in Dang Gui Wan (R-17), or combined with processed rehmannia root, red peony, and cnidium rhizome, as in Si Wu Tang (R-15).
- For menstrual problems due to stagnation of the blood, Chinese angelica root is prescribed with cnidium rhizome, red peony root, peach kernel, and carthamus, as in Tao Hong Si Wu Tang (R-16).
- For menstrual difficulties, if the condition is mainly due to stagnation of Liver-Qi, Chinese angelica is dispensed with cyperus tuber, bupleurum root, and curcuma root, as in Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang.
- Invigorates blood circulation and stops arthralgia:
- For pain due to stagnation of blood circulation, Chinese angelica is mixed with red salvia, mastic, and myrrh, as in Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan.
- For rheumatic arthralgia, Chinese angelica is combined with notopterygium root, siler, and curcuma, as in Juan Bi Tang.
- For numbness in the extremities, Chinese angelica is blended with millettia and loranthus. For pain caused by traumatic injuries, it is used with rhubarb, peach kernel, safflower, and bupleurum.
- Nourishes the blood: for blood deficiency, with symptoms of a sallow complexion and pale lips, for distension and pain in the chest, dizziness, anorexia, loose stools, irregular menstruation, and cramps, Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang is used. For deficiency of blood, stagnation of Spleen-Qi and Liver-Qi, dizziness, and pale nails, Chinese angelica is prescribed with astragalus root, ginseng, processed rehmannia, white atractylodes rhizome, cinnamon bark, peony, and licorice, as in Shi Quan Da Bu Wan (R-80).
- Invigorates both Qi and blood, and strengthens the function of the spleen and stomach: For general debility, loss of appetite, lassitude, and habitual miscarriage, Chinese angelica extract is made into a patent medicine such as Dang Gui Wan (R-17). It can be combined with rehmannia root, cnidium, white peony, poria, white atractylodes, and licorice root, as in Ba Zhen Wan (R-18). A similar formula, Wu Ji Bai Feng Wan (R-19), has been used to treat menstrual disorders, and the deficiency of Qi and blood, with good results.
- Nourishes blood and strengthens the function of the spleen and liver: for distension and pain in the chest, dizziness, anorexia, loose stools, irregular menstruation, cramps, headaches, and dry mouth and throat due to a defeciency of blood and stagnation of Spleen-Qi and Liver-Qi. Chinese angelica is combined with bupleurum root, white peony, atractylodes rhizome, poria, licorice root, ginger, and peppermint, as in the popular patent medicine of Xiao Yao Wan (R-41).
When moutan and gardenia are added to the previous recipe (Xiao Yao Wan), a new recipe, Dan Zhi Xiao Yao Wan (R-42), is created, which effectively treats menstrual disorders, menopausal syndrome, emotional imbalance, and depression due to stagnation of Liver-Qi and deficiency of blood.
- Helps moisten the bowels: for constipation, Chinese angelica is mixed with cistanche, polygonum, and hemp seed.
In a decoction of 6 to 15 g.
Chinese angelica should not be used in cases of excessive Dampness manifested as abdominal distension and loose stools, if there is a tendency for heavy menstrual periods or excessive bleeding, or for acute viral infection of colds or flu. Do not take Chinese angelica with blood thinners.
Side Effects and Toxicity
At the recommended dose, the herb is safe. No side effects or toxicity have been reported.
Chinese angelica root and rhizome are rich in coumarins and volatile oil. The main ingredients of the volatile oil include ligustilide and butylidene phthalide. Othes are d-a-phellandrene, alpha-pinene, beta-caryo-phyllene, linalool, borneol, acetaldehyde, and lactones. Coumarins include osthol, angelicin, osthenol, umbelliferone, and others. Other components in the herb so far isolated are plant acids (including angelic, aconitic, citric, ferulic, malic, folic, and others), resin, starch, sugars, archangelone, beta-sitosterol palminate and arachinate, amino acids, and vitamins A, E, and B12.
- Effects on uterine muscles:
- The essentitial oil portion or organic solvent relaxes the isolated uterus, but the aqueous extract (cooked for a long time to evaporate the volatile oil) increases contractions in the uterus. Uterine contractions can speed up birth.
- In one study, an isolated uterus relaxed more than a life model.
- Prevents the decrease of liver glycogen, protects the liver, and regenerates liver cells.
- Invigorates blood circulation, including micro and peripheral circulation system. Increases blood circulation as it lowers blood pressure. Intravenous administration of 2 g/kg of the extract to anesthetized dogs decreased coronary resistance and peripheral resistance, in creased coronary flow, and decreased myocardial oxigen consumption.
- Inhibits cholesterol formation and prevents arteriosclerosis in rabbits and rats.
- Has a mild sedative effect on the central nervous system, and is analgesic.
- Relaxes the smooth muscles.
- Increases blood cell counts. Invigorates production of red and white blood cell and platelets.
- Antiasthmatic : Chinese angelica is shown to improve the capacity of the lungs and relax bronchial muscles.
- Antimicrobial : Chinese angelica is inhibitory in vitro against hemolytic Streptococcus and Shigella.
- Treats thromboangitis obliterans (Buerger’s disease) and constrictive arthritis, relieves pain, increases local blood circulation, increases the temperature of the skin, prevents the devolopment of necrosis, and promotes the healing process.
- Chinese angelica decoction showed reduced thymoturbidity in eighty-eight cases of cronic hepatitis or liver cirrhosis.
- Treats dysmenorrhea: when combined with red peony root, corydalis, and ligasticum fruit in a decoction, it demonstrated a 93 percent improvement rate in the treatment of dysmenorrhea.