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Should I try Dong Quai supplements?
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Christine222 posted:
I am a 26 year old woman who is having troubles with maintaining my period. About 2 years ago I started an active life style which included exercising 3 to 5 times a week and a change in my eating habits. I was about 130 pounds when I began. I lost some weight but, in this process my cycle and hormones have been thrown off. I noticed that I have had mood swings and slight depression. I believe the cause of this may be due to a hormone imbalance. I was doing a little research and found out about Dong Quai, I was just wondering if anyone has had any experience with this product? If so, is it effective?
When I did have my periods I did experience severe cramping, does this product cause bad cramps or help relieve them?
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Jane Harrison Hohner, RN, RNP responded:
Dear Christine: Despite numerous references in popular articles on the traditional use of dong quai for "female problems" MULTIPLE searches at the National Library of Medicine yielded only two citations on use for menstruation. Neither were actual studies. There were 130 citations on dong quai for menopausal symptoms. Here is one of the most recent on that topic:

Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2007 Nov;276(5):463-9. Epub 2007 Jun 26.
Non-hormonal therapy of post-menopausal vasomotor symptoms: a structured evidence-based review.
Cheema D, Coomarasamy A, El-Toukhy T.
Source

Royal Worcestershire Hospital, Worcester, UK.
Abstract
BACKGROUND:

Interest in non-hormonal therapies for the treatment of menopausal symptoms has increased since the publication of adverse effects of estrogen replacement therapy.
OBJECTIVE:

To provide information on the efficacy of non-hormonal therapies for menopausal vasomotor symptoms based on evidence from published randomised controlled studies.
METHODS:

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR), MEDLINE, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine database (ATHMD) and Allied and Complementary Medicine database (AMED) were searched for randomised controlled trials in the English language reporting data on treatment of menopausal vasomotor symptoms. Trials including cancer breast patients were included.
RESULTS:

Our search identified 58 randomised controlled trials of which 11 involved the use of clonidine, six for SSRIs, four for gabapentin, seven for black cohosh, seven for red clover, 18 for phytoestrogens, two for ginseng, one for evening primrose, one for dong quai and one for vitamin E. Most trials had methodological deficiencies.
CONCLUSION:

There is evidence that clonidine, paroxetine, venlafaxine, gabapentin and black cohosh may be beneficial in the treatment of menopausal vasomotor symptoms in some women. Current evidence does not support the use of fluoxetine, red clover, phytoestrogens, Ginseng, evening primrose, dong quai and vitamin E. The side effects profile of these therapies should be considered.

Christine, from what I hear from naturopaths and chinese medicine healers, usually dong quai is combined with other herbs in a formula especially made for that specific individual. Since you are wanting to try dong quai your best bet would be to see a naturopath or chinese medicine practitioner for guidance on dose and questions regarding possible side effects.

Yours,
Jane


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