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J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Feb 27;152(1):1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.12.018. Epub 2013 Dec 21.

Danggui to Angelica sinensis root: are potential benefits to European women lost in translation? A review.

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School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland. Electronic address:



Danggui (Chinese Angelica root; Dong quai; Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels.) is a traditional Chinese herbal remedy with a long history of use in China, Korea and Japan. Even today it is still one of the herbs most commonly used by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners in China, as well as Europe. It is mainly used for the treatment of women's reproductive problems, such as dysmenorrhea, amenorrhoea, menopause, among others. Using Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels. root as the example, this Review examines the ease with which the use of a Traditional Chinese Herbal Remedy can be transposed from one culture to another. By examining the more recent literature, a number of aspects are considered by the author to be potentially lost in translation: (i) identity and quality (phytochemistry); (ii) tradition of use and processing (smoke-drying, stir-frying, with and without wine); (iii) method of use and traditional types of Chinese herbal medicines; (iv) ethnic differences (Caucasian vs. Asian); (v) efficacy, safety and potential for western drug-herb interactions.


This review is based on evaluation of the literature available in scientific journals, textbooks, electronic sources such as ScienceDirect, PubMed, Scopus, etc., as well as other web-sites.


A vast amount of information concerning the use of Angelica sinensis exists in the public domain. Many aspects associated with the use of the root are deemed problematical, such as identity, processing, amount and types of constituents, tradition of use in combination with other Chinese herbs, ethnicity of users, etc. Numerous constituents have been isolated with phthalides, ferulic acid and polysaccharides showing biological activities.


In spite of the potential activities associated with the traditional use of danggui, and the many trials using the Chinese system of 'Zheng differentiation', well-designed western-style clinical trials carried out using the authenticated, chemically standardized crude drug material to confirm clinical efficacy are in short supply. However increasing research into Angelica sinensis extracts and constituents shows that many of the traditional uses are not without scientific basis.


Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels. root; Danggui; Efficacy; Quality; Safety; TCM

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