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Different Decocting Methods of Chinese Angelica for Pre-natal and Post-natal Moms

Wu Zongxiu, director of the Department of Pharmacy in Linsen Chinese Medicine Branch of Taipei City Hospital, points out that in traditional medicine, Chinese angelica can enrich the blood, moisturize the skin, invigorate the circulation of blood, relieve pain, regulate menstrual cycle and relax bowel; usually 1 to 3 qian is/are taken each day. Modern pharmacological research finds that Chinese angelica can keep people calm, reduce pain, protect the hepatic cells, combat bacteria, ameliorate inflammation, reduce blood fat, resist pernicious anemia, improve arteriosclerosis, prevent myocardial ischemia, promote local blood circulation, relieve pain and heal wounds; therefore, it is fit for those with yin-blood deficiency that suffer from fatigue and weakness, pale lips, dry skin, light-headedness, palpitation and amnesia, insomnia and dreamful sleep, lower abdominal pain, scanty periods or amenorrhea, sour pain, numbness and unsmooth defecation.

Chinese angelica can work both ways because it includes both uterus contracting and relaxing ingredients, depending on how it is decocted. The volatile oil of Chinese angelica is oil soluble and can relax uterine smooth muscle (namely to prevent miscarriage); alkaloid is water soluble and can contract the uterus; and be used for post-natal lochia removal. Therefore, to promote uterus contraction, Chinese angelica should be decocted for a long time to get rid of its volatile oil (decocted for about 50 minutes). If Chinese angelica in the post-natal Shenghua soup (decoction for postpartum troubles) is not added in advance and decocted long enough, it may work in the opposite way and affect lochia removal.

Wu Zongxiu says, to promote uterus atony and prevent miscarriage, it is better to add Chinese angelica in the last 10 minutes. If it is decocted for too long, water soluble alkaloids will dissolve out a lot and cause uterine contraction and increase the chance of miscarriage.

Will its blood enriching efficacy be affected by the length of decoction or the timing of addition? Wu Zongxiu thinks it will not be affected that much. The decocting method only influences miscarriage prevention and lochia removal; how long it is decocted as well as when it is added does not affect its blood enriching efficacy.