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Dong Quai use while Breastfeeding

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Sep 9, 2023.

Dong Quai Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding

Summary of Use during Lactation

Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) root contains a number of chemicals, including ligustilide, ferulic acid, angelicide. Dong quai has no generally recognized lactation-related uses, although some midwives in the United States reportedly have used it for postpartum blues or depression.[1] It is often used as part of a postpartum herbal mixture in Asia and is used as a "women's herb" in Chinese medicine for symptoms associated with menstruation and menopause.[2,3] It is also used in some postpartum mixtures as galactogogues in Taiwan.[4] Although it is usually well tolerated in general use, it may increase the risk of bleeding in patients taking warfarin and antiplatelet drugs and cause photosensitivity reactions. Dong quai is best avoided during breast feeding.[5]

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Drug Levels

Maternal Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Effects in Breastfed Infants

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk

A study in Japan compared the use of a mixture of 13 herbs, including dong quai, to ergonovine for their effects on lactation and serum prolactin in postpartum women. The herbal mixture, called Xiong-gui-tiao-xue-yin, was given in a randomized fashion to 41 women in a dose of 2 grams of a dried aqueous extract 3 times daily. A comparable group of 41 women were randomized to receive methylergonovine 0.375 mg daily. Therapy was started on the day of delivery, but the duration of therapy was not specified. Plasma oxytocin and prolactin were measured on days 1 and 6; milk volumes were measured daily, although the method of measuring milk volume was not specified. Serum prolactin was higher on days 1 and 6 in the women who received the herbals; plasma oxytocin was lower on day 1 in the women who received the herbal, but not different on day 6. Milk volumes were greater on days 4, 5, and 6 in women who received the herbal mixture.[6] This study has serious flaws that make its interpretation impossible. First, milk volume measurement is subject to considerable variability depending on the measurement method used, but the method was not specified. Second, methylergonovine has caused decreases in serum prolactin and milk production in some studies.[7,8] Because of the lack of a placebo group, the differences found could be a negative effect of methylergonovine rather than a positive effect of the herbal preparation. Because this study used a multi-ingredient combination product in which dong quai was only one component, the results might be different from studies in which dong quai was used alone.


Allaire AD, Moos MK, Wells SR. Complementary and alternative medicine in pregnancy: A survey of North Carolina certified nurse-midwives. Obstet Gynecol. 2000;95:19–23. [PubMed: 10636495]
Wong HB. Effects of herbs and drugs during pregnancy and lactation. J Singapore Paediatr Soc. 1979;21:169–78. [PubMed: 262485]
Chuang CH, Chang PJ, Hsieh WS, et al. Chinese herbal medicine use in Taiwan during pregnancy and the postpartum period: a population-based cohort study. Int J Nurs Stud. 2009;46:787–95. [PubMed: 19193377]
Chao J, Ko CY, Lin CY, et al. Ethnobotanical survey of natural galactagogues prescribed in traditional Chinese medicine pharmacies in Taiwan. Front Pharmacol. 2021;11:625869. [PMC free article: PMC7928277] [PubMed: 33679390]
Amir LH, Pirotta MV, Raval M. Breastfeeding - Evidence based guidelines for the use of medicines. Aust Fam Physician. 2011;40:684–90. [PubMed: 21894275]
Ushiroyama T, Sakuma K, Souen H, et al. Xiong-gui-tiao-xue-yin (Kyuki-chouketsu-in), a traditional herbal medicine, stimulates lactation with increase in secretion of prolactin but not oxytocin in the postpartum period. Am J Chin Med. 2007;35:195–202. [PubMed: 17436360]
Peters F, Lummerich M, Breckwoldt M. Inhibition of prolactin and lactation by methylergometrine hydrogenmaleate. Acta Endocrinol (Copenh). 1979;91:213–6. [PubMed: 463447]
Arabin B, Ruttgers H, Kubli F. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 1986;46:215–20. [Effects of routine administration of methylergometrine during puerperium on involution, maternal morbidity and lactation] [PubMed: 3519353]

Substance Identification

Substance Name

Dong Quai

Scientific Name

Angelica sinensis

CAS Registry Number


Drug Class

Breast Feeding


Complementary Therapies


Plants, Medicinal

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Further information

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