Angelica Summary:

Although there are about 30 varieties of Angelica. Angelica archangelica is the officially used species in the West. Another species, Angelica sinensis, is commonly used in China where it is known as "Dong Quai". They are closely ralated, but used in very different ways. 

The stems and seeds of angelica are often used in the making of liqueurs for its strong flavour. You can find it in liquors like gin and chartreuse. The roots are the part of the plant mainly used for medicine however. 

Angelica archangelica's botanical name has been suggested to stem from some of the folk lore around the herb. The story is that angelica was delivered by an angel as a cure to the plague. At the time the black plague was devastating much of Europe and people were keen on finding a solution. Although it is highly unlikely that an angel passed down a herb from the heavens to cure the plague, some of this folklore may hold true in its actions. Its most common application was in flavoured liqueurs which was made from the highly antibacterial seeds of the plant. This herb would actually be incredibly useful in treating and preventing the plague.

In modern times, we no longer have to worry about the plague, but do suffer from bacterial infections all the same. Angelica is a great antibacterial herb (mainly the seed and essential oil), and offers symptomatic relief for digestive tract infections as well. 

Other uses include antispasmodic, and bitter tonic. 


Botanical Name:

Angelica archangelica

 

Family:

Apiaceae

 

Part used:

Root, leaves, seeds

General Actions:

[1, 2, 4-7]

  • Antispasmodic
  • Carminative
  • Cholagogue
  • Aromatic Bitter Carminative
  • Diaphoretic
  • Diuretic
  • Expectorant
  • Stimulant
  • Stomachic
  • Tonic
  • Antimutagenic [1]
  • Anticancer [5, 6, 7]
  • Antiulceragenic [2]
  • Hepatoprotective [4]
  • Nervine
  • Phototoxic
angelica sinensis herb

Dosage

Dried Root

2 - 4 g/day

Tincture (1:5)

10 - 15 ml/day

Fluid Extract (1:1)

3-6 ml/day

Infusion (1:20)

xxx - xxx ml/day

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Indications:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Peptic discomfort
  • Mild spasms of the GIT
  • Flatulence
  • Coughs
  • Colds/Flus
  • Pleurisy
  • Wind
  • Colic
  • Rheumatism
  • Urinary system disorders
  • Fever
  • Specific for typhoid (roots)
  • Epilepsy
  • Menstrual irregularities

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Angelica Extract

Herb Pharm

made from Angelica archangelica root

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Dried Angelica Root

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Made from dried Angelica archangelica root

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Common Names:

  • Angelica
  • Chorak

Traditional Uses:

The benefits of angelica against infection has been well known for centuries. It was considered useful for purifying the blood, protecting against contagion, and curing any malady [9]. It was also considered one of the best remedies for poisons and all infectious maladies [11]. 

The famous western herbalist Parkinson put angelica at the forefront of all medicinal plants. [3]. Gerard suggested it useful for dog and venomous animal bites [3].

It is suggested that Angelica archangelica was revealed to cure the plague by an angel, which may explain the origins of its botanical name [9]. 

Its traditional uses includes purifying agent, anti-reumatic, a treatment for gout, warming, sudorific, antimicrobial, antidote, and alterative [9].


Botanical Description:

Angelica is a biennial (or perennial) herb, that can grow up to 2m in height [9]. 


Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:

Angelica archangelica is commonly cultivated on a large scale in Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Hungary, and northern India [10]. 


Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:

After harvesting or acquiring fresh Angelica roots, they should be dried rapidly and stored in air tight containers. Here they will store for many years. [3]. The preferred age of the roots before harvesting and use is 2 years or less. Older roots is considered inferior and lacks the peppery top note often desired from the younger root but can still be used medicinally. [9].  

Alcohol should be used to extract the medicinal components rather than water [3]. 

The essential oil is obtained from the roots via steam distillation. 

The stems of Angelica are popular when candied. [3]. 


Conditions:

+ Full List

[3, 9]

  • Volatile oil (roots) (1%) [9]
  • pentadecanolide
  • tridecanolide
  • rho-cymen-8-ol
  • alpha-bisabolene
  • bornyl cryptone
  • copaene
  • terpinolene
  • p-cmene
  • trans-ocimene
  • cis-ocimene
  • beta-phellandrene
  • limonene
  • myrecene
  • alpha-phellandrene
  • sabinene
  • camphene
  • alpha-pinene
  • Hydroxymyristic acid (seeds)
  • Methyl-ethylacetic acid (seeds)
  • Terbangelene
  • Valeric acid
  • Angelic acid
  • Sugar
  • A bitter pronciple
  • Resin
  • Angelicin
  • Sterols
  • Phenolic acids
  • Fatty acids
  • Coumarins
  • Furanocoumarins
  • Sugars
  • Tannins

Pharmacology and Medical Research:

+ Anticonvulsant

Studies done investigating the essential oil of Angelica archangelic found that it exhibits significant anti-seizure activity against chemically and electrically induced seizures in mice [8].

 

Toxicity

Angelica is contraindicated in pregnancy due to suggested uterine stimulant actions [9]. This fact is highly disputed however.  

 

Cautions:

The furanocoumarins present may cause a sensitivity of the skin to light exposure. This can then lead to an irritation to the skin if exposed to UV prior to use [9]. 


Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Warming, and drying. Drains the the yin, awakens the appetite, invigorates the spleen, stomach, and intestines, and dispels mucous damp conditions [9]. It is as such beneficial in all yin excess conditions, such as cold, damp, and phlegm congestion in the lungs, intestines and uterus [9, 12]. 


Synergy:

Commonly mixed with Juniper for their similar flavours in such preparations as gin [3]. 

Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary
Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: May 2017


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References:

  1. Salikhova RA, Poroshenko GG. (1995). Antimutagenic properties of Angelica archangelica L. Vestn Ross Akad Med Nauk. 1:58-61.
  2. Khayyal MT, el-Ghazaly MA, Kenawy SA, Seif-el-Nasr M, Mahran LG, Kafafi YA. (2001). Antiulcerogenic effect of some gastrointestinally acting plant extracts and their combination. Arzneimittelforschung 51:545-53.
  3. A Modern Herbal. (1931). Angelica. Retrieved from http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/anegl037.html
  4. Yeh ML, Liu CF, Huang CL, Huang TC. (2003). Hepatoprotective effect of Angelica archangelica in chronically ethanol-treated mice. Pharmacology 68:70-3.
  5. Sigurdsson S, Ogmundsdottir HM, Gudbjarnason S. (2004). Antiproliferative effect of Angelica archangelica fruits. Z Naturforsch [C] 59:523-7.
  6. Sigurdsson S, Ogmundsdottir HM, Hallgrimsson J, Gudbjarnason S. (2005). Antitumour activity of Angelica archangelica leaf extract. In Vivo. 19:191-4.
  7. Sigurdsson S, Ogmundsdottir HM, Gudhjarnason S. (2005). The cytotoxic effect of two chemotypes of essential oils from the fruits of Angelica archangelica L. Anticancer Res. 25B:1877-80.
  8. Shalini Pathak, M. Wanjari, S. Jain and M. Tripathi. (2010). Evaluation of antiseizure activity of essential oil from roots of Angelica archangelica Linn. in mice. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 72(3).
  9. Battaglia, S. (2003). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy (2nd ed.). Brisbane, Australia: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy. (Pg 160-162)
  10. Arctander S. (1994). Perfume and flavour materials of natural origin, Allured publishing, USA. 
  11. Grieve M. (1931). A modern herbal. Penguin Publishing, England. 
  12. Holmes P. (1989). The energetics of western herbs Vol 1. Artemis press, USA.