Dong quai (Angelica sinensis)
Change-of-life remedies are now jamming the shelves. But they're not all created equal. Here's what to take home with you
The variety can make you dizzy, whether you're in menopause or not. There's "Born Again" cream, "Menopause Support" capsules, "Easy Change" gel, and "Women's Balance" tablets, to name a few. On a recent visit to a health-food supermarket, we counted more than 40 different potions in the change-of-life section.
A study at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, headed by endocrinologist Bruce Ettinger, M.D., is investigating the effects of dong quai (Angelica sinensis) on 72 post-menopausal women troubled by hot flashes.
"Kaiser's Division of Research has studied various kinds of estrogens for years looking to promote women's health," said Dr. Ettinger, "but this is the first time that Kaiser has looked at an herbal remedy with the same seriousness."
"Compelled to return" is the English translation of this herb's name. Tang kuei, as you will find it in Chinese herbals, earned its title through its power to restore balance. Although it is a celebrated woman's herbal, dong quai has many salubrious uses for both sexes.
In China, for thousands of years, one of the most effective herbal remedies used for the treatment of PMS and other female problems is the plant known as Angelica sinensis or dong quai. Dong quai is now beginning to be recognized in the western world as a useful adjunct in natural healthcare for women. Common imbalances such as menstrual problems, PMS, and menopause can be helped by using this wonderful botanical medicine.
Two popular alternative remedies for the hot flashes associated with menopause have been studied and found wanting. One study involved dong quai, a powdered dried root, used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. Seventy-one women who suffered night sweats and hot flashes were randomly assigned to take either a placebo or dong quai in capsules three times a day for 24 weeks. At the end of the study, which was conducted at Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program of Northern California, there were no significant differences in symptoms between the two groups.