The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to dong quai, its parts, or members of the plant family that includes anise, caraway, carrot, celery, dill, and parsley.

Side Effects and Warnings

Like all Chinese herbs, there are many different grades and qualities of dong quai. Chinese herbal products may be contaminated with heavy metals, prescription drugs, or other undesirable substances. There is a risk of dangerous side effects when herbal preparations are mixed together or when taken with prescription drugs.

Dong quai is likely safe when taken by mouth in recommended doses, under the care of a medical professional.

Dong quai may affect blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs or herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure.

Drowsiness or sedation may occur. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery.

Caution is advised in people with diabetes or low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

Use cautiously in amounts higher than recommended doses.

Use cautiously in people who have alcohol dependence or intolerance, anemia, cancer, eye disorders, heart problems, liver disease, lung problems, sensitive skin, and stomach problems.

Use cautiously in people taking agents that are affected by alcohol, agents that widen blood vessels, and heart agents.

Use cautiously in children.

Dong quai may increase the risk of bleeding. Avoid in people with bleeding disorders (including abnormally heavy menstrual periods) or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding (such as warfarin (Coumadin®)). Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

Avoid before surgery or major dental procedures, and during prolonged exposure to sunlight or other sources of ultraviolet light, menstrual periods in women with heavy menstrual flow, and viral infections such as the cold or flu.

Avoid in people who have hormone-sensitive conditions (such as breast cancer, endometrial cancer or endometriosis, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer or uterine growths), stroke, and thromboembolism (clotting that blocks blood vessels).

Avoid in people who are taking birth control by mouth, hormone replacement therapy, St. John's wort, and tretinoin.

Avoid in pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Avoid using suntan oils with concentrations of greater than 1 percent dong quai.

Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to dong quai, its parts, or members of the plant family that includes anise, caraway, carrot, celery, dill, and parsley.

Dong quai may cause abnormal heart rhythms, anorexia, asthma or difficulty breathing, bloating, burping, changes in menstrual flow, changes in sex drive, chills, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, estrogen-like effects, excess breast growth in males, fever, headache, hot flushes, increased cancer risk, increased risk of miscarriage, irritability, kidney problems, loss of appetite, low energy, nausea, relaxant effects, sensitivity to sunlight, skin irritation (burning, pain, or rash), sleep difficulty, sweating, upset stomach, uterus stimulation, vision loss, vomiting, weakness, wheezing, and widened blood vessels.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

There is a lack of scientific evidence on the use of dong quai during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration