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Angelica root (Angelica archangelica) is a perennial herb that has been cultivated since ancient times. In Northern Europe, the plant has been used as medicine and food since at least the 10th century.
The plant is part of the parsley family, with large leaves, umbels of white or greenish-white flowers the size of a grapefruit, and bright green stems that are sometimes tinged with purple. Angelica is unique among the parsley family for its aromatic odor, different from fennel, parsley, anise, or caraway. It has been compared to musk or juniper.
In the wild, the plant dwells in damp spots, especially along streams, rivers, and ocean beaches, where there is plenty of sunlight. The thick taproot is the useful part, although the stems are eaten, similar to celery.
Did You Know?
While the taproot of the angelica plant is useful medicinally, the stems can be eaten, similar to celery.
6 Ways to Use Angelica Herb
- Digestive: Angelica is a warming, decongesting, aromatic, and bitter herb. It’s widely used as a digestive aid, appearing in traditional aperitif formulas. It helps stimulate appetite and ease indigestion, bloating, and gas. The herb is also used to combat a sluggish liver.
- Menstrual: The root helps stimulate circulation, so it relieves menstrual cramps by warming, relaxing, decongesting, and stimulating blood flow. It can also bring on delayed menses or benefit PMS. For this purpose, combine angelica with hibiscus flower and rose petal. The circulation benefits also lend it to migraine treatment.
- Respiratory: Angelica has an expectorant effect on the lungs and can help soothe and heal asthma, cough, bronchitis, and cold or flu symptoms. Historically, it’s also used to treat bladder infections and rheumatic conditions. As a hot diaphoretic tea, it will bring down fevers.
- Gastrointestinal: In German pediatric medicine, angelica root is often used to treat gastrointestinal disorders. German doctors rely on a stomach tea made with 20 percent angelica root, 40 percent gentian root (Gentiana lutea), and 40 percent caraway seed (Carum carvi). Angelica root is listed in the German Drug Codex, a supplement resource for pharmacists.
- Antiviral: A paper in Food and Chemical Toxicology reported that angelica has antiviral constituents that can help fight Herpes simplex 1 and Coxsackievirus B3.
- Anxiety: A recent Chinese study found that angelica has an antianxiety effect comparable to Valium.
What is the Difference between European Angelica and Chinese Angelica
Don’t confuse European angelica with Chinese angelica (dong quai, or Angelica sinensis). The Ayurvedic species, Angelica glauca, has similar properties to European angelica. The herb often finds its way into Ayurvedic formulas for emotional balance. It is sometimes combined with arjuna bark, rose petal, and white sandalwood to balance emotions and restore bliss and inner strength. Nutmeg and gotu kola may be added to balance the connection between the heart and the mind. It’s common to add one quarter teaspoon of angelica powder to a basic female aging formula.
A typical Western herbalism dose is 4 grams per day as a tea or in capsules. The standard tincture dose (1:5) is 0.5–2 ml, three times daily. Angelica is considered safe, but prudence dictates abstaining during pregnancy. People taking angelica should avoid excess sun exposure because the herb can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. However, the dose that produces this effect is extremely high in most cases, so just use caution.