Dong quai contains essential oil (0.4-0.7%) consisting of 45% ligustilide, n-butylphthalide, cadinene, carvacrol, safrole and isosafrol. The root also contains sucrose (40%) and various lactones and vitamins, together with phytosterols, ferulic acid and coumarins, including osthole, psoralen and bergapten (Micromedex 2003). Ferulic acid and ligustilide are considered to be the main active components (Dong et al 2005) and it has been suggested that assessment of total ferulic acid content provides a good measure of herbal quality (Lu et al 2005).
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