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Understanding dang gui and other traditional herbal medicines

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Quite often people and marketing companies focus on a particular herb and promote it as being the cure for many things. The mistake that is being made is that the traditional use of herbs was almost always the combination of herbs to treat medical conditions. Herbal medicine arose out of cooking traditions. The herbal medicines were mixed in ways to create a medicine specific to the needs of the patient. The use of a single herb was rare. The modern concept of mixing herbs together based on popularity without any concern of how the various herbs work together makes little sense from a herbal medicine point of view. It would be the equivalent of mixing favorite foods together based on popularity rather than cooking principles of what tastes good together.

A good example is the herb Dang gui or Angelica sinensis. This herb is often promoted by marketing people as important for the regulation of the female menstrual period. While this is true in many cases, dang gui is really a basic nourishing herb that is used in many ways. It is one of the rare herbs that is often used alone. Alone it is used to nourish stamina and stabilizing types of energy in the body. It can be helpful for scant irregular menstrual periods as well as headaches that have a dull empty feeling and maybe dizziness. In situations where there is sharp menstrual pains clots, heavy bleeding or sharp headaches- dang gui if used unmodified would make these conditions worse. It is important to have a proper herbal diagnosis to use herbal medicines effectively.

Traditional Herbal medicine in many cultures utilized formulations of herbs. Usually this meant starting with one or more main herbs and then adding smaller amounts of various herbs to create the desired medicinal function.

The following slides show various standard herbal formulas that utilize dang gui as a main herb. The addition of various herbs changes the function of the overall formula to treat a wide variety of conditions. While it can be said dang gui is useful in treating all these conditions, dang gui used as a single herb the way it is often promoted and sold would be inappropriate for these medical conditions. If you want to learn more about how dang gui may or may not be helpful in your situation, talk to a nationally board certified herbalist to find out what is right for you.

Dang Gui
Dang Gui D.Bock

Dang Gui

Dang Gui is an important herbal medicine. (Shown in whole root and sliced variations) It has the basic function of strengthening the body, moving nourishment around the body and regulating energy. Used for fatigue, pain and menstrual issues.

Xiao Yao san
Xiao Yao san D.Bock

Xiao Yao san

Herbal formula Xiao Yao san. Used for pain, headaches, vertigo and fatigue, also regulates mentruation. Dang gui, Chai hu, Bai shao, Bai zhu, Fu ling, Zhi gan cao

Si wu tang
Si wu tang D.Bock

Si wu tang

Herbal Formula Si wu tang. Used for irregular menstruation and amenorrhea, often with dizziness, blurred vision and pale complexion. Dang gui, Shu di huang, Bai shao, chuan xiong

Dang gui si ni tang
Dang gui si ni tang D.Bock

Dang gui si ni tang

Herb formula Dang gui si ni tang. Used for chronic cold extremities, weakness of heat energy which may include joint pain that is worse in cold weather. Dang gui, Bai shao, Gui zhi, Zhi gan cao, Da zao, Mu tong

Sheng hua tang
Sheng hua tang D.Bock

Sheng hua tang

Herb formula Sheng hua tang. Used for lower abdominal pain that has a cold feeling, often post childbirth. Dang gui, Chuan xiong, Tao ren, Pao jiang, Zhi gan cao

Bu zhong yi qi tang
Bu zhong yi qi tang D.Bock

Bu zhong yi qi tang

Herb formula Bu zhong yi qi tang. Used for many conditions marked by lack of energy and poor digestion. Dang gui, Huang qi, Ren shen, Bai zhu, Zhi gan cao, Chen pi, Sheng ma, Chai hu

Xiao feng san
Xiao feng san D.Bock

Xiao feng san

Herb formula Xiao feng san. Used for many types of skin problems including rashes and hives marked by redness and itching. Dang gui, Jing jie, Fang feng, Niu bang zi, Chan tui, Cang zhu, Ku shen, Mu tong, Shi gao, Zhi mu, Sheng di huang, Hei zi ma, gan cao

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