Pregnancy Use

Dong quai may stimulate uterine contractions and is therefore contraindicated in pregnancy (Mills & Bone 2000).

PRACTICE POINTS/PATIENT COUNSELLING

• Dong quai is a popular Chinese medicine used widely to relieve menopausal symptoms; however, controlled trials in humans are lacking. In practice, dong quai is prescribed together with other herbs and may be effective when used in this way.

• Evidence of oestrogenic activity is contradictory.

• Care is required in people using drugs that affect blood clotting.

• Dong quai is generally safe when used appropriately.

ANSWERS TO PATIENTS' FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will this herb do for me?

Dong quai has a long history of use as a women's tonic. Although conclusive evidence is lacking, dong quai is used in conjunction with other herbs to assist in menopausal and menstrual complaints, and may be effective when used in this way. When will it start to work?

It is difficult to predict from the available scientific research.

Are there any safety issues?

Dong quai appears to be relatively safe but care should be taken in people using drugs that affect blood clotting or in pregnancy and conditions that are hormone sensitive.

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