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The original use of the herb dong quai in Traditional Chinese Medicine was in treating men's infertility, but modern rational herbal medicine uses dong quai to help both men and women conceive. Dong quai is the dried root of the Chinese herb Angelica chinensis, also known as Chinese angelica and tang-kuei. In modern herbal medicine, dong quai is often referred to as "women's ginseng," because of its use in treating menstrual problems, pelvic pain, and PMS, and in supporting recovery from childbirth.

Some of the most significant results from treatment with dong quai, however, are observed in men. Men, like women, sometimes suffer from low levels of a substance called luteinizing hormone, usually abbreviated LH. Men whose bodies don't produce enough LH don't produce enough sperm to ensure fertility. Taking dong quai normalizes circulation. It doesn't raise a man's LH levels, but its effects on circulation to the testicle often enhance fertility. It can also stop male hot flashes.

The ferulic acid in dong quai does not increase the number of sperm produced, but it seems to help more sperm survive their travel through the cervix to the uterus. Ferulic acid is a potent antioxidant. In the process of "swimming" through the mucus of the cervix, the sperm burns a relatively large amount of glucose, releasing free radicals. Ferulic acid absorbs some of the free radicals so that they do not injure the sperm and it can continue its journey to the uterus.

Dong quai by itself is used to treat hot flashes in women. The single herb is not used to treat fertility issues. When dong quai is boiled with peony root to make a tea, however, the tea creates compounds that have a gentle balancing effect for women who have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). PCOS is generally a condition of excessive testosterone. The compounds released by the dong quai and peony tea reduce both testosterone and estrogen in a woman's body, but re-establish proper balance in the process.

Lowering estrogen levels can reduce inflammation during the first half of a woman's menstrual cycle. Lowering testosterone levels can enable ovulation at the midpoint of a woman's menstrual cycle. The benefits of dong quai and dong quai formulas don't take place overnight. In men, fertility is not likely for be changed for four to six weeks. In women, fertility may be increased after two or three menstrual cycles. No trouble trying to conceive should rely on dong quai or any other single product, natural and pharmaceutical, for more than six months without seeking expert advice.

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