Angelica polymorpha sinensis, Chinese angelica, Dang qui
Part of the plant used: roots
Dong quai is an aromatic herb commonly used throughout the Orient. This plant has been used in combination with other herbs for centuries as part of Chinese traditional medicine to treat gynecological ailments such as menstrual cramps or irregularities. There are several proposed used for dong quai: gynecological problems, symptoms of menopause, hypertension, rheumatism, anemia, constipation and many others. In most situations, its efficacy has failed to be established. Coumarin derivatives are extracted from the roots. The root also contain psoralens, which are photosensitizing and can cause severe skin reactions upon sun exposure. In addition, these psoralens are mutagenic and carcinogenic.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
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