The Angelica Herb - Uses & Benefits

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There are two versions of the plant of the angelica herb which most are familiar with - the Angelica archangelica, which is native to northern Europe, and the Angelica atropurpurea, which grows wildly in America. They have similar appearance and properties, except that the latter has purplish stems.

Some common names the herb goes by include "garden angelica", "great angelica", "alexanders", "wild Angelica" and "purple-stem Angelica".

The name "angelica" is derived from the Latin term "herba angelica", which means "angelic herb", due to its supposed powers against plague and poison. In those days, the herb was believed not just to have physical medicinal properties, largely for the treatment of digestive problems, but also to ward off bad spirits and even neutralize the bites of mad dogs.

Towards the end of World War I, people apparently chewed on the angelica root with the belief that that would protect them from the then influenza epidemic.

The angelica herb is related to carrots and has an intense but sweet aroma.

Modes of use

Several parts of the angelica plant are used, namely the stem, seeds and the root. Of these, the angelica root seems to be the most oft used.

The angelica herb is typically taken as capsules or an infusion tea. Angelica root extract is also added to various herbal formulas.

Medicinal properties and uses of angelica

Taken internally, angelica is said to be helpful for the following conditions.

  • appetite - stimulates it, thus alleviating loss of appetite
  • colds
  • coughs - alleviates it by serving as an expectorant
  • digestive and stomach disorders and conditions - several conditions may be relieved, including colic, flatulence and wind, indigestion, intestinal spasms; digestive disturbances may also be calmed
  • fever - by acting as a diaphoretic
  • menstrual cramps
  • urinary tract infections

    Angelica is also said to strengthen the heart, as well as possess anti-bacterial properties.

    Regular consumption of the angelica root is said to help one develop a distaste of alcoholic beverages.

    There is research in 2005 which show that compounds found in angelica may help prevent the growth of tumor cells in-vitro.

    Externally, angelica has also been used in the following ways:

  • the roots are dried and ground into powder, and used for athlete's foot
  • the leaves are crushed and applied as a poultice for chest and lung conditions
  • as a poultice for rheumatism
  • as a gargle for sore throat
  • as a poultice for swells, itching and even for broken bones

    Other uses of angelica include:

  • its stems are sweetened for consumption as tasty treats
  • essential oils obtained from the seeds and roots are used in perfumes and as food flavoring

    Caution when using angelica

    Those who are diabetic may want to refrain from using angelica, as it tends to increase sugar levels in the urine.

    Pregnant and lactating women may also want to exercise caution as the safe use of the herb for such persons has not been confirmed.

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