Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dang Gui for Replenishing Blood

I've been schooled to replenish my blood each month after my menses. This is something drilled into me since I was young, about 12 or 13. It also helped that my sisters and I were often fed with soups and tonics since young so making blood tonics isn't something new at all.

Wonderful and nourishing Dang Gui tonic for women.
Recommended to be taken  often.

When I went away to study in university, I rarely had chance to make these nourishing soups for myself. We couldn't cook in our dorm rooms - the hazard of fire was very real.

When I moved out of the dorm and into a student house (located out of campus), my dad bought me a Pensonic slow cooker so I could make soups on my own. That was about 15 years ago. That Pensonic slow cooker is still with me and yes, it still works!

The slow cooker is rather small and only makes up to 2 bowls of soup. But back then it was sufficient. After all I was only making soups for myself.

The best thing about using a slow cooker is that you pop in all the herbs, add boiling water, close the lid, switch it on to Auto and let it simmer till done (about 3-4 hours). I usually put on the slow cooker in the evening and by 10pm or so, my tonic is ready to drink. If you are in a hurry, you can use the fast setting that allows your tonic to be ready in 2 hours or less.

I don't know if I told you this but sometimes I get rather lazy and go to Eu Yan Sang for blood tonic in the form of tiny black pills. You can read all about this in this previous post. I won't repeat myself.

This time around, I found some Dang Gui in my fridge. Decided to make some Dang Gui herbal tonic. It was just the day my menses finished.

Dang Gui slices (top) and dried red dates

How To Make Dang Gui Tonic

Here's what you need for a Dang Gui tonic for one person. This tonic is highly recommended for women. Many men shy away from drinking Dang Gui so don't attempt to feed your husband or spouse this tonic. ;-)

3-5 pieces of Dang Gui root, sliced
1 chicken thigh, remove all visible fat and skin (wash, pat dry and chop into 2 pieces)
2 large pieces dried red dates, stones removed
1 bowl of boiling water (250 ml)

Ensure the water covers the chicken sufficiently

1. Place Dang Gui slices and red dates in the inner ceramic pot.
2. Place chicken pieces on top of the herbs.
3. Pour over hot boiling water.
4. Put on the glass lid of the slow cooker.
5. Turn the setting to AUTO. Let this simmer for 4 hours at least.
6. Before dishing up, add half a teaspoon of salt to taste.

The tonic must be drunk warm.

Even if you remove the chicken skin, you will see a layer of oil floating atop your tonic. You may skim this off before you serve the tonic.

After drinking this tonic, you must not drink Chinese tea or any sort of tea for the next 12 hours. You should avoid taking cold drinks too.

You can eat the chicken too as it is very tender and infused with the flavour of Dang Gui. Add a little soya sauce if the chicken meat is too bland.

All About Dang Gui 

Dang Gui or angelica polymorpha var. sinensis is one of the most popular Chinese herbs for women. It is often prescribed for gynaelogical problems - menstrual irregularities and fertility issues - as well as poor blood circulation resulting in dizziness, paleness, fatigue and dry skin.

As a root, Dang Gui's efficacy depends on which part of the root you use. The bottom part is said to move blood most strongly while the head of the root is a stronger tonic. You must ask your herbalist whether what you're getting is the head or bottom!

As a Warm herb, Dang Gui affects the liver, heart and spleen meridians. It is also rich in Vitamin B12 and folic acid besides being a liver tonic.

In Chinese TCM, deficient blood is normally associated with the liver which is believed to store blood and the heart which helps it circulate.

As blood in a Yin substance, a blood deficiency is a Yin deficiency.

It's not only Dang Gui which helps with blood deficiency. Other herbs such as Dang Shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza), Shu Di Huang (Rehmania glutinosa), Bai Shao Yao (Paeonia lactiflora), Chuan Xiong (Ligusticum wallichii) and Gan Cao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) are also used.

Note that Dang Gui is NOT recommended if you are pregnant, have diarrhea or have abdominal fullness.

Finally.....When To Take This? 

Apparently, regular consumption of Dang Gui will prevent menstrual cramps and PMS.(I can vouch for this. If I take Dang Gui regularly each month, my PMS - bloating, tender breasts, headaches - are considerably lessened. Also when my period comes, I do not suffer interminable cramps.)

What is regular? Once a month is good enough (in my opinion). It should be taken one or two days after your period is finished. I have read that drinking Dang Gui tonic is ONLY recommended for the few days after your period. Dang Gui is contraindicated for women who are pregnant.

However, if you take the Bak Foong pills, it is recommended that you take 1 bottle per week. I have never done that so I cannot say if that's good or not. Please ask your herbalist or TCM practitioner if you are in doubt.

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