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Angelica

  • Angelica archangelica L.
  • Angelica atropurpurea L.
  • Angelica sylvestris
  • Angelica gigas
  • Angelica officinalis
  • Umbelliferae
  • Umbel family



Common Names

herbsAmara aromatica
herbsAmerican angelica
herbsArchangel
herbsArchangelica
herbsBellyache root
herbsDead nettle
herbsEuropean wild angelica
herbsGarden angelica
herbsGoutweed
herbsHigh angelica
herbsHoly herb
herbsMasterwort
herbsPurple angelica
herbsPurplestem angelica
herbsWild angelica
herbsWild celery


Parts Usually Used

Roots, leaves, seeds, stems.


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Angelica can grow 5 to 8 feet tall, needs rich, moist, well-drained soil in partial shade. The seeds require light for germination, do not cover with soil if planning to establish plants. The plant will produce seeds only once, usually in its second or third year. If you cut the flowers back before they seed each summer, thus extending it's life, the plant will continue to grow for years to come. Angelica is a biennial producing foliage the first year and stems and flowers the second. Flowers time is June to August. It dies back in the winter (no frost protection is necessary). Collect ripe seed in late summer and sow in early autumn. The seeds are fairly large and coated with a straw-like substance. Seeds turn from green to yellow when they are ready to be harvested. Not bothered by weeds, grows well in wild surrounded by other plants. Pruning is not necessary, but remove lower leaves if they wither.

The grooved, hollow stem is occasionally purplish at the top of the plant.

The leaves have enlarged convex sheaths at the base of the leafstalks and have 2 to 3 pinnate parts. They become smaller toward the top of the plant and are less clefted. The upper part of this herb is branchy. At the branch ends grow the inflorescences, 20- 40- radiate double umbels with bristly small leaves. The tiny greenish-white flowers smell of honey. Some angelica plants flower white blossoms or more rarely, pale-purple flowers. Oval fruits are ridged with thin lateral wings.

A. gigas (Korean angelica) is an exquisite ornamental introduced to the United States in the early 1980's. All parts are a rich purple, including the deep-toned flowers. It's an excellent contrast for finely textured tall grasses and combines well with colorful perennials.

Because it resembles celery in odor and appearance, angelica sometimes is known as wild celery. Seeds are available through catalogs, but young plants are more successfully cultivated. After the second year, propagate with offshoots and root cuttings. Roots can also be harvested in early fall of the second year. Full sun or partial shade; Zones 4-9.

Other varieties: Du Huo (A. pubescens); Dang gui (A. sinensis); Angelica (A. breweri); Masterwort (A. atropurpurea) also called angelica.


Where Found

Botanists place Angelica archangelica in the carrot family (Apiaceae-Umbelliferae). Native to northern Europe, it is more common in Scandinavia, Greenland, and Iceland than on the coasts of the North Sea and the Baltic, where it is relatively scarce. It grows in cool, damp meadows, but also in the valleys of low mountain ranges. It was unknown to the Greeks and Romans.

Angelica atropurpurea (known as purplestem angelica), a North American native, has similar properties and uses.


Medicinal Properties

Stimulates appetite, carminative, expectorant, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, diuretic


Biochemical Information

Essential oil with phellandrene, angelica acid, coumarin compounds, bitter principle and tannins


Legends, Myths and Stories

With blossoms scheduled to appear annually on the 8th of May, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, angelica is said to possess mystical powers against disease and evil. One reference claims this herb was named after the Archangel Raphael, who according to a 10th century French legend, revealed the secrets of this herb to a monk for use during a plague epidemic. In old-world Latvia, peasants would march into town with armloads off the fragrant herb and suddenly burst into song in languages that no one, not even the singers, understood. Like a surprising number of plants, angelica was unknown to the ancients. Although found in the northern and temperate regions of Europe and eastward all the way to the Himalayas, it does not seem to have attracted attention until the 15th century and first appeared in European herbals in the early 1500's. Its name reflects the legend that an angel revealed its special virtues to a monk during a time of plague. Angelica wasn't believed to cure the plague but protect against it; a piece of root was held in the mouth as an antiseptic. In Germany, it was known as the root of the holy ghost and was believed to eliminate the effects of intoxication and also to render witchcraft and the evil eye harmless. In England, where it was also known as bellyache root, dried angelica roots were made into powder and mixed into wine to "abate the rage of lust in young persons." The plant was also given symbolic qualities: angelica stands for magic and poetic inspiration.


Uses

An infusion of dried root can be used as a remedy for coughs and colds, to dispel gas and to soothe intestinal cramps. Also used to stimulate kidneys. The wash is used to relieve rheumatism and neuralgia. Used as a blood tonic. Eases stoppage of urination, good for suppressed menstruation, and helps expel the afterbirth. Good for sluggish liver and spleen. A tea made of angelica, dropped into old ulcers (external) will cleanse and heal them. Good for cold, colic, flu, cough, asthma, bronchitis, menstrual cramps, pleurisy, anemia, rheumatism, and fever.

This herb is excellent in diseases of the lungs, gout, stomach troubles, heartburn, colic, lack of appetite, dyspepsia and stomach upsets, gastrointestinal pain, gas, sciatica, and the heart. It is useful for skin lice, relieves itching, swelling, and pain. Regular users of Angelica root develop a distaste for alcoholic beverages. Chewing the root is recommended for people suffering from a hangover after excessive alcohol consumption. An infusion should be made from the leaves and chopped stems. This will also provide an excellent gargle for the treatment of sore tonsils, and throats. Angelica raw stalks are delicious when eaten with a little cream cheese, and the washed roots are also quite tasty. This plant is used to flavor many alcoholic drinks and its candied stem has long been used in confectionery.

The roots and fruits yield angelica oil, which is used in perfume, confectionery, medicine (especially Asian medicine), in salads, as teas, as a flavoring for liqueurs, and as the source of yellow dye. This robust and sweet-tasting plant is best known for decoration of cakes and puddings. Angelica lessens the need for sweetener when making pies or sauces. It can also be cooked and eaten as a fresh herb, used for seasoning fish, or made into syrup for pudding and ice cream toppings. The Norwegians make a bread of the roots. In the Lapland region, the stalks are regarded as a delicacy. A popular tea, tasting much like China tea, is infused from fresh or dried leaves.


Formulas or Dosages

The recipe for genuine Angelica Liqueur, "Vespetro." 2 oz. (60 g) angelica seeds, 1/4 oz (8 g) of anise seeds, 1/4 (8 g) oz of fennel seeds, and approximately 1/5 oz. (6 g) of coriander seeds are ground together in a seed mill. 8 fluid oz. (200 g) of pure drinkable alcohol (not rubbing alcohol) is added and the preparation allowed to stand for 8 days. It is then strained through muslin and mixed with a solution of 1 lb. (500 g) of sugar (preferably grape sugar) dissolved in 2 1/2 pints (1-1.5 liters) of water. (chopped angelica root may be used if seeds unattainable) Of this recipe it has been said: "There is no better or more pleasant remedy for digestive troubles or flatulence."

For Angelica archangelica:
An infusion: use 1 tsp. crushed seeds with 1/2 cup boiling water. Take as needed.

Decoction: use 1 tsp. root and rootstock with 3/4 cup cold water. Bring to a boil, then let steep 5 minutes. Take the 3/4 cup in 2 equal parts during the day.

Cold Extract: use 1 tsp. dried root and rootstock with 3/4 cup water. Let stand 8-10 hours, then strain. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day.

Powder: take 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. three times per day.

Extract: external; rub liquid directly on affected areas.

Extract: internal; mix 10-30 drops of extract in liquid, take 3 times a day.


How Sold

Capsules


Warning

Do Not take angelica if you are pregnant or have severe diabetes. Angelica has a tendency to increase the sugar in the urine.

Angelica archangelica has been identified as a suspected carcinogen in recent years. This drug will render you sensitive to light. Use of angelica for a fairly long time, will cause contraindicate ultraviolet or tanning salon treatments as well as strong sunlight for the duration.

Large doses can affect blood pressure, heart action, and respiration. To avoid these problems, do not exceed recommended dose.

Please Note: Angelica belongs to the Apiaceae Umbelliferae, a family with many poisonous members that can be mistaken for this medicinal plant. Wild angelica (Angelica Sylvestris) can be confused with European water hemlock, which is poisonous. Do Not collect angelica yourself under any circumstances! It is recommended that angelica not be harvested unless positively identified by a trained botanist, habitat being the same as for the poisonous varieties.

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