Scientific Name(s): Angelica archangelica L., Archangelica officinalis Hoffm.
Common Name(s): Chorak, Echt engelwurz, European angelica, Garden Angelica, Holy Ghost, Norwegian angelica, Wild Celery
Angelica is a widely cultivated, aromatic biennial herb grown in northern Europe. It has fleshy, spindle-shaped roots, an erect stalk, and greenish-yellow flowers arranged in an umbel. The seeds are oblong and off-white; angelica seed is more accurately the plant fruit. It is similar to, and sometimes confused with, water hemlock (Cicuta maculata), which is extremely toxic. There are several recognized varieties of A. archangelica, both wild and cultivated. In the United States, Angelica atropurpurea L. is often cultivated in place of the European species. A. archangelica should not be confused with related "Chinese angelica" or dong quai (A. sinensis).Khan 2009, USDA 2014
Angelica has been cultivated as medicine as well as for flavoring in Scandinavian countries since the 12th century, and in England since the 16th century. The roots and seeds are used to distill about 1% of a volatile oil used in perfumery and for licorice flavor in liqueurs and other alcoholic beverages. The candied leaves and stems have been used to decorate cakes. The oil has been used medicinally to stimulate gastric secretion and treat flatulence, and to topically treat rheumatic and skin disorders. The Ayurvedic medical system suggests angelica for CNS effects. Angelica root, root powder, essential oil, and tinctures are prepared and used traditionally.Blumenthal 2000, Duke 2003, Khan 2009, Knapp 2009, Pathak 2010
Dried rhizome and roots, which should not contain more than 5% stem or leaf content are used. Requirements for the volatile oil composition have been published, and leaf extracts and essential seed/fruit oil have also been examined for pharmacological effect. The dried root comprises 80% to 90% monoterpene hydrocarbons (including phellandrene, caryophyllene, pinene, and limonene), with 6% resin and 0.3% angelic acid. The remaining composition includes sterols, phenolic acids (including chlorogenic and caffeic), fatty acids, coumarins and furanocoumarins, and tannins.
Pharmacologically active compounds include furanocoumarins, umbelliferone, begapten, colubiandin and others. The shelf life of the root is limited due to the loss of the volatile oil while in storage, and geographical variation has been noted. Methods of extraction and analytical procedures have been described. Duke 2003, Khan 2009, Sarker 2004, Sigurdsson 2012, Waksmundzka-Hajnos 2004, Wszelaki 2011
Uses and Pharmacology
Although the constituents imperatorin and xanthotoxin have been shown to inhibit acetylcholinesterase, thereby increasing neuronal levels of acetylcholine and improving cognitive function, accelerated formation of amyloid-beta peptides has also been demonstrated.Budzynska 2012, Granica 2013, Sigurdsson 2007
Competitive antagonism of 5-hydroxytryptophan receptors has been demonstrated in vitro.Budzynska 2012 Limited studies in rodents show imperatorin derived from fruit extracts to be effective in reducing laboratory-induced anxiety.Budzynska 2012, Kumar 2013, Kumar 2012
A small open-label study and a small crossover trial evaluated a combination preparation containing angelica in controlling behavioral symptoms of dementia. While decreased distress was shown in these studies, further clinical trials using angelica as a single agent are required before recommendations can be made.Kanaya 2010, Kimura 2011
Inhibition of the degradation of gamma-aminobutyric acid has been demonstrated in vitro.Budzynska 2012 Anticonvulsant effects of imperatorin have been shown in rat neurons, resulting in dampened excitatory activity.Wu 2013 Experiments in rats show increased seizure threshold and suppressant effects on tonic-clonic seizures by imperatorin and the essential root oil.Luszczki 2007, Luszczki 2009, Pathak 2010
Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of angelica for epilepsy.
A hepatoprotective effect seen in mice fed ethanol for 4 weeks was suggested to be due to antioxidant activity.Yeh 2003 The calcium-blocking activity of angelica root has been examined relative to solvent used in extraction, and furanocoumarins were identified as the likely active species.Härmälä 1992 Inhibitory action against Helicobacter pylori by the leaf extract has been demonstrated.Biglar 2014 Volatile oil extract of angelica fruit was cytotoxic against mouse mammary cancer cells,Sigurdsson 2005 while radioprotection was shown in rats, possibly due to antioxidant activity.Raafat 2013 An industry-sponsored trial reported a nonsignificant effect on nocturnal enuresis, with subgroup analysis suggesting some effect on voiding.Sigurdsson 2013
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.Blumenthal 2000
Crude fruit extract is not recommended; safety and efficacy have not been established.Blumenthal 2000
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use. Adverse effects and emmenagogue effects have been documented.Ernst 2002
Angelica contains furanocoumarins, which, although often thought of as coumarin-like, are more accurately attributable to dicoumarol.Pengelly 2004, Sigurdsson 2013 Case reports of interactions with warfarin or other anticoagulant medicines are lackingUlbricht 2008; however, A. sinensis does exhibit antiplatelet aggregating activity.Mason 2010
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.Sigurdsson 2013 Allergic dermatitis has been reported.Knapp 2009
The presence of photosensitizing linear furanocoumarins in the root indicates that the plant parts should be used with caution during exposure to sunlight. Coumarins, found low in concentrations in the oil, are partially removed during some extraction processes.Khan 2009, Raquet 2014
A median lethal dose of 2,000 mg/kg for the essential oil in mice has been reported,Pathak 2010 while an oral dose of 5 to 10 mg/kg in rats has been suggested to be a safe and effective dose of imperatorin.Kumar 2013 The constituent imperatorin accelerates the formation of amyloid-beta peptide in vitro, the implications of which are as yet undetermined.Budzynska 2012 Poisoning has been recorded with high doses of angelica oils. Phototoxic and genotoxic effects on human cells have been demonstrated when furocoumarins are combined with ultraviolet irradiation.Raquet 2014
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