encyclopedia

Angelica

Scientific Names:    

Angelica archangelica L. [Fam. Umbelliferae]    
   
  
Forms:    

Dried whole root; root extract (liquid or dry)    
   
  
Traditional Usage:  

– Aging
– Amenorrhea
– Antioxidant
– Cellular Regeneration
– Cleansing
– Cramps (stomach)
– Detoxifying
– Dyspepsia
– Flatulence
– Heartburn
– Indigestion
– Psoriasis
– Vascular Disorders     
     
    
Overview:    

Angelica, Angelica archangelica L., belongs to the family Umbelliferae. The plant has many medicinal virtues and was considered such powerful medicine by the ancients that they named it after the angels. More than 50 species of Angelica grow around the world, and each different variety is recognized for its healing powers. Angelica is said by some herbalists to be 'ginseng' for women and is recommended by many as a daily beauty tonic, to prevent hormonal imbalances and treat menstrual difficulties (Amenorrhea). The German Pharmacopoeia recognizes angelica root as a source of bitters and aromatics that stimulate gastric and pancreatic secretions. The root is recommended to stimulate appetite and treat dyspepsia, mild stomach cramps, bloating and flatulence. The root is also anti-microbial. Modern herbalists recommend angelica for preventing vascular disease and note that the root, as with other plants in the carrot family, contains 15 compounds that act much like calcium channel blockers. Dr. James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy, states that vegetarians who eat lots of carrots may have lower levels of vascular disease partly due to these compounds, which are more highly concentrated in angelica. Aromatherapists recommend angelica oil for heartburn in adults and for colic in infants. Angelica is also recommended for psoriasis due to the presence of psoralens, photoactive compounds that can be used with controlled light treatments to normalize skin. A polysaccharides extract from the root of Angelica sinensis, the closely related Chinese angelica known for its antiulcer action on the gastrointestinal tract, was studied for its liver protective effect in rodents and found to prevent liver toxicity caused by acetaminophen in mice without reducing the serum acetaminophen concentration. It also normalized enzyme activities and levels including alanine transferase (ALT), hepatic nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and glutathione in the liver.    
     
    
Active Ingredients:    

Angelica root contains: Approximately 0.35-1.9% essential oil comprising 80-90% monoterpenes hydrocarbons, with beta-phellandrene (13-28%), alpha phellandrene (2-14%) and alpha pinene (14-31%) as principal components; sesquiterpenes like beta bisabolene, bisabolol, beta caryophyllene and the macrocyclic lactones tri-, penta-, heptadecanolide, and 12-methyltridecanolide. Over 20 furanocoumarins; coumarins; psoralens; phenol-carboxylic acids; the flavonone archangelenone; sitosterol; fatty acids; tannins and polysaccharides.    
     
    
Suggested Amount:    

The daily dose of angelica root is 4.5g of the dried root or 1.5-3.0g fluid extract (1:1) or 1.5g tincture (1:5); or preparations taken correspondingly.  Pour approximately 150ml of boiling water over a teaspoonful of angelica root (2-4g) and after about 10 minutes passed through a tea strainer. The tea may also be prepared by briefly boiling the drug in water. Unless otherwise prescribed, a moderately warm cup of the tea is drunk several times a day half-an-hour before meals.    
     
    
Drug Interactions:     

None known
             
     
Contraindications:    

Angelica root preparations are contraindicated in people with stomach or intestinal ulcers. During treatments with high dosages of angelica root preparations (i.e. for dyspepsia), prolonged sunbathing and exposure to strong UV irradiation must be avoided.    
     
Side Effects:    

Taken as directed, angelica root does not have any negative side effects. However, people who have very pale complexions or sensitive skin can develop photosensitivity to the drug when exposed to the sun or other sources of UV. If high levels of furanocoumarins are in the system, it is best to stay out of the sun or take large amounts of antioxidants, especially OPCs from grape seed extract and anthocyanins from bilberry extract. Sensitive persons exposed to high dosages of furanocoumarins can experience pink skin and even blistering in the sun.    
     
    
References:     
     
Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. pp. 53; 55-56; 146; 290-91; 299-300; 335; 453-454. Rodale Press.
 
Schar D. 1993. Angelica. In Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life. Elliott & Clark Publishing, Washington, DC, pp. 15-18.
 
Taskinen J, Nykanen L. 1975. Chemical composition of angelica root oil. Acta Chem Scand B 1975;29(7):757-64.
 
Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Angelicae Radix – Angelica Root (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 70-72.
 
Ye YN, Liu ES, Li Y, So HL, Cho CC, Sheng HP, Lee SS, Cho CH. 2001. Protective effect of polysaccharides-enriched fraction from Angelica sinensis on hepatic injury. Life Sci 2001 Jun 29; 69(6): 637-46.