Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis/Angelica archangelica)

Traditional Indications

Angelica is antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. Angelica has a long folk-history of use as a medicinal herb, in particular for the treatment of digestive disorders and problems with blood circulation. It stimulates blood flow to the peripheral parts of the body and so is of value in treating poor circulation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Angelica is known as Dang Gui or "female ginseng" and is used for loss of appetite, gastrointestinal spasms, feeling of fullness, and flatulence. It is also used as part of a multi-ingredient preparation for treating premature ejaculation. Dang Gui is combined with liguisticum, peony, and foxglove roots to create the famous formulas for building the Blood - Si Wu Tang. This formula is basic to treating amenorrhoea (missed periods) and dysmenorrhoea. Cinnamon twig is added if menstrual pain is due to cold uterus. This formula is recommended in pregnancy as it is extensively used in China and Japan and has been monitored in many large-scale clinical trials with pregnant women. (1)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dang Gui is said to be sweet, bitter, acrid and warm and to enter the Liver, Lung and Kidney channels. Dang Gui tonifies the Blood and regulates menses due to blood deficiency, invigorate/harmonise blood to disperse cold and alleviate pain, moistens intestines to unblocks bowels and reduce swellings, expel pus and generate flesh. (2)

Pharmacognosy

Research has demonstrated that Dang Gui and its active ingredients, as anti-arthrosclerotic, anti-hypertensive, antioxidant anti-inflammatory agents which would limit platelet aggregation, are effective in reducing the size of cerebral infarction and improving neurological deficit scores. (3)

Dang gui is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Dang Gui users were found to have an increased survival rate when compared with Dang Gui nonusers. Dang Gui can prolong the survival rate of gastric cancer patients in Taiwan. (4)

Another study concluded that Dang gui either pre-treatment or post-treatment highly attenuated Ang II-induced apoptosis in cardiomyoblast cells, demonstrating that the anti-apoptosis effect of Dang gui is mediated by JNK and PI3k inhibitors. (5)

Dang Gui Angelica sinesis is part of a Chinese herbal formula called Shi Quan Da Bu Tang, traditionally used to tonify the Blood and Qi to treat anaemia, anorexia, extreme exhaustion, fatigue, kidney and spleen insufficiency and general weakness, particularly after illness and after chemotherapy. It has been found to potentiate (make it work better) chemotherapy and radiotherapy and inhibit malignant recurrences, prolong survival and prevent and ameliorate adverse toxicities in cancer treatment. (6) In Japanese herbal medicine (Kampo) the formula is known Juzen Taiho To and has been shown to increase expression of heavy metal chelating metallothioneins (MTs). (7) Shi Quan Da Bu Tang also increases transcription factor Nrf2 to support phase II detoxification thus regulate the body's detoxification and antioxidant system. (8)

1. PFAF. Angelica sinensis 2019.
2. Lotus S. Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica Root).
3. Wu Y-C, Hsieh C-L. Pharmacological effects of Radix Angelica Sinensis (Danggui) on cerebral infarction. Chinese medicine. 2011;6:32-.
4. Liao KF, Chiu TL, Huang SY, Hsieh TF, Chang SF, Ruan JW, et al. Anti-Cancer Effects of Radix Angelica Sinensis (Danggui) and N-Butylidenephthalide on Gastric Cancer: Implications for REDD1 Activation and mTOR Inhibition. Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry. 2018;48(6):2231-46.
5. Huang C-Y, Kuo W-W, Kuo C-H, Tsai F-J, Liu P-Y, Hsieh DJ-Y. Protective effect of Danggui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis) on angiotensin II-induced apoptosis in H9c2 cardiomyoblast cells. BMC complementary and alternative medicine. 2014;14:358-.
6. Chang I-M. Juzen-taiho-to (Shi-Quan-Da-Bu-Tang): Scientific Evaluation and Clinical Application. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2006;3(3):393-4.
7. Anjiki N, Hoshino R, Ohnishi Y, Hioki K, Irie Y, Ishige A, et al. A kampo formula Juzen-taiho-to induces expression of metallothioneins in mice. 2005;19(10):915-7.
8. Wu Q, Zhang D, Tao N, Zhu QN, Jin T, Shi JS, et al. Induction of Nrf2 and metallothionein as a common mechanism of hepatoprotective medicinal herbs. Am J Chin Med. 2014;42(1):207-21.