|The possible adverse effects of hormone replacement therapy are
encouraging more and more menopausal women toward herbal remedies
such as dong quai (Angelica sinensis). In fact, dong quai is immensely
popular for many conditions related to women. But does dong quai
Like many herbs, there are subtleties involving the function of dong
quai. While it is widely known that the Chinese Materia Medica
recommends dong quai for menstrual disorders, it is also not so
commonly known that most Chinese medicine practitioners won't
prescribe dong quai alone.
Janie D. Hirata, M.D., and colleagues from Kaiser Permanente Medical
Center in Oakland, California, recently undertook a study to determine if
dong quai had an effect on menopause when taken by itself.
Seventy-one postmenopausal women, average age 52, received three
capsules three times daily of either dong quai or placebo for 24 weeks.
The researchers assessed the women's outcomes in four ways: serial
ultrasonic measurements of uterine lining thickness; microscopic
examination of the maturity of vaginal cells; menopausal symptoms, as
recorded in the women's diaries and as scored on the Kupperman index;
and blood tests for estrogen levels. Menopause thins the endometrial
lining, atrophies vaginal cells, drops estrogen levels and causes hot
flashes and depression. Estrogen replacement therapy helps reverse
each index. On all four parameters, however, dong quai performed
nearly the same as the placebo.
What do these results suggest? Used alone, dong quai apparently has
little or no estrogenlike effects in menopausal women. This correlates
with the fact that Chinese healers rarely use it alone. But what about
its wide popularity? Since there are no studies targeting the use of
dong quai with other agents, the jury is still out, but if the herb's
popularity is any indication, dong quai probably does possess some
valuable health-enhancing properties.|