Why Do Women Get Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea)?
Menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, are caused by contractions of the womb to expel the uterine lining during a woman’s period. These contractions can be so strong that blood circulation to the lower abdomen becomes restricted, that acid builds up in the muscles causing pain. This is also why the first step in dealing with cramps is to increase blood flow to the area.
What is Dang Gui?
The Chinese Anglica Sinensis, more commonly known as the Dang Gui, is works as a blood tonic because of its warming properties – nourishing blood, relieving cramps, and regulating periods are among its many uses (in professional TCM terms, it is said to treat symptoms of blood and qi deficiency). It is a herb that is consumed in soups, teas, and as an extract.
Did you know: Dang Gui is related to the celery?
Often times, women experience mild fatigue and dizziness during a period. In traditional chinese medicine (TCM), this is caused by the loss of blood. Hence, the Dang Gui. Dang Gui is seen as a herb which strengthens the spleen, an organ which filters and stores red blood cells, and also plays an important role in the immune system. The strengthening of the spleen is said to increase blood production and circulation, which makes the Dang Gui very popular with women to replenish their blood. Besides, modern research provides evidence that the Dang Gui is a blood thinner, and has anti-spasmodic properties (i.e. muscle relaxation properties) which makes it ideal for alleviating cramps. It is a source of iron, cobalt, and vitamin B12, which are minerals essential for blood production.
Other than blood toning properties, Dang Gui is also anti-inflammatory, and might cause the production of natural progesterone in the body – making it ideal to combat menopausal symptoms like hot flushes.
If Dang Gui is starting to interest you, you can read up more on other TCM remedies here as well!
How to Consume Dang Gui?
For a woman who wants to consume Dang Gui to increase blood production, she should consume it when her period has ended. It is best taken regularly when your period ends, in order to replenish your system. It is a bittersweet herb, and is sold for around $6 to $9 in chinese medical halls in Singapore. (Source: ST) It is often combined with other herbs such as white peony (Bai Shao) (the formula is called Dang Gui Shao Yan San).
You could drink it as a tea – Boil 10g of Dang Gui and 3g of black tea with water, and then brew it for about 15 minutes. You can add some brown or red sugar if you prefer a little sweetness.
You could also try it out as a soup! Here is a recipe, taken from Straits Times’ Mind Your Body in 2011:
Pork Ribs Soup with Chinese Angelica (Serves 2)
200g prime pork ribs
20g Chinese angelica (Dang Gui)
50g bamboo shoots
50g button mushrooms
Onion, to taste
Salt, to taste
Soak all the ingredients except salt in cold water for 10 minutes.
Rinse the pork ribs, then blanch them in boiling water. Place them in a clay pot and fill it with 800ml of water. Add the Chinese angelica, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and onions.
Bring the water to a boil and then let the mixture simmer for an hours. Add salt to taste before serving.
Source: Mr Huang Hsueh Yi, traditional Chinese medicine physician at Nanyang Technological University Chinese Medicine clinic
Finally, you could also cook Dang Gui with chicken and the recipe can be found here on Daily Cooking Quest.
Feel free to comment below if any of these has worked for you, or if there are other remedies you have tried and worked!