The angelica plant is a typical northern plant. There are extensive fields of angelica in Greenland, where people have been using it medicinally for ages. Not being a Mediterranean plant, it could not be mentioned by the great classic physicians and botanists.
In Europe, it has been used since the middle ages, when the plague appeared. Many people suffering from the epidemic desperately looked for this plant as the ultimate remedy for their ailments. According to a legend, the archangel Gabriel showed it to a hermit wise man to combat the plague. Hence, monks cultivated angelica in their monasteries to prepare several remedies, which unfortunately contained alcohol. Presently, two liquors, Benedictine, and Chartreuse are prepared with this plant.
Angelica Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: European angelica, garden angelica.
- French: Angelique des jardins.
- Spanish: Angelica.
- Environment: Native to Asia and northern Europe, its cultivation and use are spread worldwide. It usually grows in humid, cool places near marshes and rivers.
- Description: Herbaceous plant of the Umbelliferae family, which grows from one to two meters high. It has a large, grooved stem, at whose tip the flowers grow in umbels. There is some risk of mistaking this plant for poison parsley, which belongs to the same botanical family, although their differences are significant. Angelica has a sweet hot smell, while that of the poison parsley is quite unpleasant.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: Mainly the root, but also the seeds and young leaves.
Healing Properties and Warnings
The angelica plant was recommended to combat various ailments, from plague to rheumatism, as if it were a panacea. Its active components are phellandrene, with digestive, antispasmodic properties, and angelicine, which has sedative and balancing properties on the nervous system. Both active components are responsible for the medicinal properties of angelica.
- Digestive and carminative: The plant is an excellent invigorator and stimulant of digestive functions. It increases appetite, promotes digestion, increases the secretion of gastric juice, and eliminates intestinal gas and fermentation. This is the ideal plant for people suffering from a lack of appetite, weakness, or dyspepsia. It is recommended for those who suffer from bloated stomachs, and it also renders good results with migraines caused by digestive disorders.
- Invigorates and balance the nervous system. Angelica is very useful for depression, neurosis, and nervous weakness. It is recommended for students during exams, stressed people, those who undergo convalescence from weakening ailments, and generally for those who must endure difficulties. Baths with water of angelica have a beneficial effect on the nervous system.
- It also has diuretic and expectorant properties, however less intense than the former ones.
Angelica tea warms the body and improves circulation. It is considered one of the best herbs to use during cold nights in winter. Regular use of the angelica plant will produce a dislike for alcoholic beverages. Angelica tea stimulates kidney function, relieves muscle spasms (including spasms of the bowels and stomach), stimulates appetite, and relieves flatulence and heartburn.
The angelica plant benefits all intestinal and stomach issues, such as vomiting, stomach cramps, and ulcers. It is also known for general weakness ailments, colic, nervous headache, and intermittent fever. You can also use this plant to treat pleurisy, fevers, colds, coughs, and lung diseases.
Angelica tea can also help treat rheumatism by pouring a pint of boiled water over an ounce of the bruised root. The standard dose is two to three tablespoons, three times daily.
Note: The rootstock and roots are better gathered in the second year.
WARNING! The use of liquors made from angelica is strongly advised against since their alcohol content is too high. Thus their toxic effects are higher than their potential medicinal properties. When used in large doses, this plant can affect blood pressure, heart function, and respiration negatively. Pregnant women need to avoid angelica because it is a potent emmenagogue. People with diabetes should also avoid the angelica plant because it can increase blood sugar levels. Be careful when harvesting the plant in the wild; it can be mistaken for European water hemlock, a deadly poison. There is another herb called “angelica,”; but it is different, with differing properties, and is rarely used by herbalists.
How to use Angelica
- Infusion or decoction with 20-30g of ground root (the most active part of the plant) per liter of water. Young leaves and seeds can be added to this tea. Drink a cup before each meal, up to three cups daily.
- Baths: Prepare a decoction with 100g of plant per liter of water, then add it to the bathwater.
- Infusion (leaf): Steep the herb for fifteen minutes. Drink one to two ounces three times daily.
- Decoction (root): Simmer for ten to fifteen minutes and drink one to two ounces three times daily.
- Tincture: Take five to fifteen drops three times daily.
- Fluid extract: Take ½ to one teaspoon three times daily.
- Powder: Take three to five #0 (15 to 30 grams) 3 times daily.
- George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 426,427. Print. [angelica plant]
- Vance Ferrell Harold M. Cherne, M.D. The Natural Remedies Encyclopedia [Book]. – Altamont, TN: Harvestime Books, 2010. – Vol. Seventh Edition: 7: pp. 143.