What Are the Dangers of Dong Quai?

A Chinese herbal medicine, the uses of Dong Quai extend to a variety of treatments, including menstrual cramps and other irregularities. Dong Quai also functions as a muscle relaxant and blood purifier, as well as an herbal medicine designed to manage many ailments, ranging from high blood pressure to allergies.

Not Proven By Medical Research

According to The Daily Mail, herbal remedies like Dong Quai that claim to treat menopause---or lessen its effects---are mostly unproven and can actually do more harm than good. The newspaper reported that "an independent review by experts has found no strong evidence that herbal remedies such as ginseng, black cohosh, and red clover have any effect on the hot flashes, sleeplessness, and loss of libido associated with menopause."

Dong Quai Side Effects

Sensitivity to light, skin irritation, rash, upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss and abdominal bloating are the reported side effects of Dong Quai.

Complications

Dong Quai also contains a type of oil called safrole, which has been found to be carcinogenic. Use of Dong Quai can also complicate pregnancy because it acts on the uterine muscles. Pregnant women should never take this substance.

Dong Quai also has side effects through interactions with other prescription drugs and should not be used by those who have blood conditions. According to NursingTimes.net, Dong Quai interacts with the substance warfarin, a widely used anticoagulant.

Photosensitivity

Dong Quai has been found to place people at risk to the sun, by increasing the sensitivity of the skin to sunlight. According to J. Ricker Polsdorfer, MD, "the skin is a carefully designed interface between our bodies and the outside world. It is infection-proof when intact, nearly waterproof, and filled with protective mechanisms. Sunlight threatens the health of the skin. Normal skin is highly variable in its ability to resist sun damage. Natural skin pigmentation is its main protection." Increasing skin sensitivity can place people at a higher risk of skin cancers and related problems.