Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis)

Angelica sinensis (danggui) root is a well-known Asian herbal medicine that has been used as a nourishing and hematopoietic agent for the treatment of gynecological diseases for thousands of years. It is often combined with other herbs in formulations.

Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis)


Angelica sinensis, known as danggui (in Chinese), is a traditional medicinal and edible plant that has long been used for tonifying, replenishing, and invigorating blood as well as relieving pain, lubricating the intestines and treating female irregular menstruation and amenorrhea. Danggui us used by TCM practitioners to treat a variety of blood-related ailments including women's reproductive problems, such as dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation, uterine disorders, as well as ischemia of both the heart and brain It is primarily used to relieve menstrual cramps, irregular menstrual cycles, infrequent periods, premenstrual syndrome, and menopausal symptoms.


Over 70 compounds have been identified from danggui, including essential oils such as ligustilide, butylphthalide and senkyunolide A, phthalide dimers, organic acids, and their esters such as ferulic acid, coniferyl ferulate, polyacetylenes, vitamins and amino acids. Z-ligustilide (water insoluble and heat stable), among which Z-butylidenephthalide and ferulic acid are thought to be the most biologically active components in AS and are often used in quality control and pharmacokinetic studies of danggui. Z-ligustilide is the main lipophilic component of the essential oil constituents and is the main active ingredient of danggui.

Clinical Studies

In vitro, danggui extracts demonstrated antitumor, pro-apoptotic, anti-metastatic, anti-tuberculosis, neuroprotective, and hematopoietic effects. In animal models, polysaccharides extracted from dang gui root showed protective effects against cyclophosphamide-induced toxicity, doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity, and radiation-induced pneumonitis.

A formula containing dang gui was shown to improve clinical outcomes in patients with acute coronary syndrome and mild-to-moderate renal insufficiency.

Data from an epidemiologic study suggest a positive association between consumption of donggui and reduced risk of subsequent endometrial cancer in breast cancer survivors. Danggui exhibits estrogenic activity in vitro and stimulates the proliferation of MCF-7 cells.

Biomechanical Mechanism

Ferulic acid, a constituent of dong gui, may play an important role in treating osteoarthritis by reducing hydrogen peroxide-induced interleukin IL-1beta, tumor necrosis factor TNF-alpha, matrix metalloproteinases MMP-1 and MMP-13, and by increasing SOX9 gene expression. SOX9 is a protein involved in the establishment and maintenance of the phenotype of chondrocytes. Danggui polysaccharides demonstrated anti-osteoarthritic activity by stimulating insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) and IGF1 receptor gene expression, thereby promoting UDP-sugars and glycosaminoglycan synthesis. Another compound promotes wound healing and bone regeneration by inducing osteoblast proliferation and hyaluronic acid deposition.

An aqueous extract from danggui was reported to have estrogen-agonist activity and stimulated proliferation of both estrogen receptor-positive and -negative breast cancer cells. It also protected against radiation-induced pneumonitis by downregulating proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and TGF-beta1 in a murine model. Subcutaneous injection of dong gui extract protected mice against cyclophosphamide-induced cytotoxicity by promoting recovery from leukopenia. The antitumor effects of danggui may be due to its inhibitory effects on invasion and metastasis of carcinoma cells and by suppression of tumor growth that may be mediated by Nur77-dependent apoptosis. However, danggui extracts also promote angiogenesis – which plays a key role in both physiologic and disease processes – by inducing the proliferation and migration of endothelial cells by upregulating VEGF expression.


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Xie CH, Zhang MS, Zhou YF, et al. Chinese medicine Angelica sinensis suppresses radiation-induced expression of TNF-alpha and TGF-beta1 in mice. Oncol Rep. 2006;15(6):1429-1436.

Xin YF, Zhou GL, Shen M, et al. Angelica sinensis: a novel adjunct to prevent doxorubicin-induced chronic cardiotoxicity.

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Zhang WF, Yang Y, Li X, et al. Angelica polysaccharides inhibit the growth and promote the apoptosis of U251 glioma cells in vitro and in vivo. Phytomedicine. 2017 Sep 15;33:21-27.

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