Common Names: Angelica, Archangelica, Wild celery, Garden Angelica, Archangel
Part/s Used: Root + rhizome + seeds
Energetics: Hot, warming
Taste: Bitter, pungent, spicy, sweet
Actions: Diaphoretic, expectorant, alterative, aromatic, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, astringent, emmenagogue, analgesic, mild nervine
Key Constituents: pinene, thujene, limonene, linalool, borneol, acetaldehyde, macrocyclic lactones, phthalates, glycosides, psoralen, bergapten, sugars, acids, flavonoids, sterols. Highest concentration in the seeds 0.3%-1%
Organ System Affinity: Digestive, respiratory
Tissue State: Dry/atrophy and cold/depression
Tincture (ratio and alcohol %): Fresh roots: 1:2 95% Dry roots: 1:5 70%
Glycerite: Fresh roots:1:5 Glycerin: 40% Alcohol: 40% Water: 20%
Tea: Hot infusion Ounces: 8-12 Times a day: 3-4x
Honey and Syrup: Fresh: 1:4 volume to volume. Prepare honey with fresh roots. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of fresh root honey in hot water or tea, consume up to four times daily.
Topical: Apply a poultice of fomentation of the root topically. Prepare root oils using the alcohol intermediary method or double boiler method.
Culinary uses: The leaves and stems have a celery like flavor and can be added to soups, fish and vegetable dishes.
Habitat and Botanical Description:
More than 12 native American tribes used angelica extensively for medicines and ceremonies. Most administered as a diaphoretic. Tribes in the mountain regions from central to northern California consumed the root decoction for cold, flus, coughs and bronchitis. Dried root shavings were added to smoking mixtures to treat head colds and a wash of the tea was applied to venereal diseases.
Angelica archangelica is the species used most often in commerce. It has a long history and a wide range of medicinal uses. It has an affinity for supporting a variety of systems including immune, respiratory, digestive, and reproductive. American angelica can be used interchangeably with the European species although it is not accepted in commerce and the fresh root is said to be toxic.
Angelica is a blood circulatory stimulant. Its warming, pungent and aromatic. Its root is oily in nature and simulates the fat of the kidneys, the adrenal cortex, which also stimulates cortisol increasing appetite, digestion and nutrition. It also builds and supports circulation to the stomach and periphery. This oil can be especially suitable for those with a dry constitution who exhibit nervousness, thinness, and difficulty with nutrient absorption and deficiency.
Angelica is an aromatic carminative and poses qualities that make it well suited to ease several gastrointestinal imbalances. Promotes increased blood flow and warmth in the digestive system. Particularly when there is a cold, sluggish and depressed functioning. In addition, the bitter content and sugars trigger gastric secretions and acid production necessary for digestion. Angelica’s bitter and cholagogue properties are a supportive tonic to the gastrointestinal tract and support hepatic function for digestion. Angelica arguta found in the PNW is significantly more bitter than the standard angelica.
Because of its circulatory stimulation action Angelica can be used as an emmenagogue in amenorrhea and weakness. It helps to move the blood, and relieve blood stagnation. Angelica increases blood flow to the pelvic region encouraging menses while supporting the uterus. *Dong quai, Angelica sinensis is a prepared angelica in Chinese medicine and one of the most respected female tonics.
As an expectorant, angelica is useful for clearing excess phlegm in the lungs and is useful when a respiratory complaint is worsened by a cold or illness. It's useful for the lymphatic systems clearing our congestion though its anti microbial and anti inflammatory actions. Use in cases of sore throats when the throat is sore from coughing accompanied by bronchitis and asthma. For bronchial problems combine with coltsfoot and white horehound. The leaves can be used as a compress in inflammation of the chest.
Harvest the roots during the fall season of its first year, once the leaves have turned yellow and begin to die back or early spring of the second year before flowering. Avoid harvesting after this as the roots begin to deteriorate and become moldy and insect ridden. Loosen the soil all the way around the root and carefully unearth. Cut away from the rest of the plant and rinse in a nearby stream or fresh water and blot dry. Angelica root is oily and can become rancid if not properly dried. Cut the root length wise and dry rapidly in an oven before storing in an airtight container. Harvest the leaves in June in its first year of growth. Cutting the aerial portion of the plant before the seeds emerge can prolong its life. Harvest the seeds in the fall during its second year on a sunny day after the dew has dried and dry in a warm place with adequate circulation. After several days the seeds can be beaten out of the seed heads, they should be dried further for proper storage. The flowers ripen seeds in the late summer and should be sown after ripening or stored in the freezer to allow for germination the following season.
Angelica should be avoided during pregnancy and cases of heavy menstrual bleeding. Large doses may irritate the stomach and kidneys. Angelica may interact with anticoagulant drugs and can also increase sugar levels and should be used with caution the individuals with diabetes. Care should be taken identifying angelica in the wild as it can be mistaken for other apiaceae family plants like poison hemlock. The fresh root is high in terpenes and can irritate the skin. Gloves should be worn during harvest and the dried root should only be used in herbal preparations.
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- Foster, S, Johnson, R. Desk reference to Natures Medicine. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society; 2006: 18-19
- Hobbs, C. Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs. New York, NY. Peterson Field Guides, Houghton Mifflin Company; 2002
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- Hoffman, David. The Complete Herbs Sourcebook. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing; 2016
- Moore, Michael. Medicinal Herbs of the Mountain West. Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press; 2003: 30-34
- Sinadinos, Christa. The essential guide to Western Botanical Medicine. Fieldbrook, CA; 2020
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Additional information was collected from various sources including personal experience and class notes.