Dong quai, also known as Angelica sinensis, is a moisture-loving plant native to China that is closely related to celery. As a medicinal herb, dong quai is known in many traditional healing systems, including Native American, Chinese, Ayurveda and Kampo medicine. It is traditionally used to treat high blood pressure, anemia, high blood sugar, poor circulation and heart disease. Although these uses apply to both men and women, dong quai root is best known as a natural treatment for painful or prolonged menstruation, endometriosis and unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause. In fact, another common name for this herb is female ginseng.
The medicinal properties of dong quai root are due to the presence of coumarin compounds and various phytosterols. The root also contains ferulic acid, a therapeutic agent used to treat cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders. The plant sterols in dong quai root exert estrogenic effects that help to offset menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. According to the National Institutes of Health, topical preparations of the root may also benefit men suffering from premature ejaculation.