Parts used medicinally: Root
Angelica archangelica was traditionally a cure-all and was even used as a natural medicine against the plague. Today in clinical practice it is seen as a warming aromatic herb that stimulates circulation, enhances digestion and enhances the lungs ability to expectorate phlegm. It is a beautiful giant of the herb world that is also renowned for its pervading aroma and flavouring.
This angel-like herb was favoured by seventeenth century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper who recommended it for treating everything under the sun and it even became a leading remedy in the treatment of the plague which is where it's angelic name derives.
Today it is mainly used for its gentle warming stimulating action on the digestive system, lungs and circulation, where it is specifically indicated for digestive weakness, flatulence, dyspepsia, lung infections, phlegm and painful periods.
This majestic and statuesque herb has a pervading aroma that is soothing and relaxing and a taste that is used in flavourings and counters the acidity of fruit making it a popular addition to baking, liqueurs and desserts.
Angelica is native to Europe and parts of Asia and is naturalised in damp situations near water, blooming in spring/summer. As with all plants of this Apiacea family, be sure of your plant ID when foraging as there are some deadly relatives around (Hemlock and Hogweed).
Angelica is a giant of the herb world growing an impressive 6ft tall. It produces white or pale yellow flowers that cluster from hollow stems. The leaves and roots are used in western herbal medicine.
Angelica is a gentle warming stimulating herb for the digestive system, lungs and circulation:
- Digestive system - Angelica is an aromatic warming digestive tonic that has a soothing and carminative action that is perfect for treating flatulent dyspepsia, indigestion and colic. The German Commission E has approved the use of the root to treat loss of appetite, gastro-intestinal spasms, feelings of fullness and flatulence
- Lungs - The warming stimulation to the lungs is helpful to loosen phlegm and work as an expectorant in cases of damp lung disease, colds, flu and chest infections like acute bronchitis.
- Circulatory system - Angelica is a general warming circulatory with an affinity to the pelvic regions which is why it was traditionally used as a menstrual tonic and for painful periods. Chewing the root can cause the mouth to go numb and tingle, highlighting its analgesic properties and its ability to soothe menstrual cramps.
- Antibacterial - The essential oils in the root of the Angelica plant are strongly anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
Ways to Use Angelica at Home?
- Infuse the leaves in boiling water or simmer the root in boiling water for 15 minutes to drink this medicinal herb.
- The fresh herb can be infused in milk-based desserts such as custard and ice cream.
- Cook chopped Angelica leaves or stalks with rhubarb, gooseberries or apples to naturally counter the acidity in the fruit.
- Boil young angelic stalks and serve as a vegetable or use the young leaves in salads with other herbs.
- Candied Angelica stem is used as an edible decoration for desserts and cakes.
- The essential oil of Angelica is used to relax nerves and muscles.
- Added to bathwater it can aid the lymphatic system and fight fungal growths.
Not to be used by diabetics, pregnant or breast-feeding women.
Avoid large doses - can cause photosensitivity.
Did You Know?
The name Angelica is thought to derive from an angel who revealed in a dream to a monk that the herb could cure the plague - and indeed Angelica was used as a plague curative in England until the time of Charles II)
If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies.