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Angelica

Medically reviewed on Jun 7, 2018

What is Angelica?

Angelica is a widely cultivated, scented, northern European herb with fleshy, spindle-shaped roots, an erect stalk, and many greenish-yellow flowers arranged in an umbrella-like shape. The seeds are oblong and off-white. It is similar to and sometimes confused with the extremely toxic water hemlock, Cicuta maculata. There are several recognized varieties of A. archangelica, wild and cultivated. In the US, Angelica atropurpurea often is cultivated in place of the European species. The oil has been used medicinally to stimulate gastric secretion and treat gas, and to topically treat rheumatic and skin disorders. The Ayurvedic medical system suggests angelica for CNS effects. Angelica root, root powder, essential oil, and liquid extracts made from the herb are prepared and used traditionally.

Scientific Name(s)

Angelica archangelica, synonymous with Archangelica officinalis.

Common Name(s)

Angelica also is known as European angelica, Echt engelwurz (German), Garden Angelica, Holy Ghost, Wild Celery, Norwegian angelica, Chorak (Indian)

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Angelica has been cultivated as a medicinal and flavoring plant in Scandinavian countries since the 12th century and in England since the 16th century. Angelica formerly was used as a sedative. The roots and seeds are used to distill a volatile oil used in perfumery and for a licorice flavoring in liqueurs and other alcoholic beverages. The candied leaves and stems are used to decorate cakes.

General uses

Angelica may have applications in treating epilepsy and anxiety; however, clinical trials are lacking to support therapeutic applications. Antioxidant activity has also been reported.

What is the recommended dosage?

Angelica root typically is given at doses of 3 to 6 g/day of the crude root, but clinical trials are lacking regarding dosage recommendations.

Contraindications

Crude fruit extract is not recommended; safety and efficacy have not been established.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Avoid use. Documented adverse effects. Emmenagogue (to stimulate menstrual flow) effects.

Interactions

Angelica sinensis may prevent blood clots.

Side Effects

Limited clinical trials provide information on adverse effects. A small clinical trial found no increase in blood pressure or heart rate during 8 weeks of leaf extract use. Skin allergies have been reported, and a sensitivity to light is possible.

Toxicology

Poisoning has been reported with high doses of angelica oils.

References

1. Angelica. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; January 2015.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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