Angelica | Angelica archangelica

general characteristics

general characteristics

The name angelica is said to originate from the belief that an Archangel revealed its medicinal virtues. Other common names include garden angelica, Holy Ghost, wild celery and Archangel root. It is a member of the Apiaceae or carrot family (formerly called the Umbellifereae family). Also known as Angelica officinalis. It is naturalised throughout the UK and Northern countries and is thought to have been introduced to Britain in the mid 1500's.
Angelica is categorised as a large biennial plant (grows, flowers and sets seeds within 2 growing seasons) but often takes 3-4 years to flower. I have known angelica to grow happily without flowering for several years, getting larger and leafier with each year before deciding to flower and set seed. If cut close to the ground before it has flowered, it can be kept as a perennial plant for many years. In its flowering state it can reach around 2 metres in height. The root is a large taproot whilst the stems are large, cylindrical and hollow with broad divided leaves (with ribbed sheaths where the leaves join the main stem) and small green flowers (which form in July) arranged in large clusters or 'umbels'.
Angelica grows best in moist or damp conditions in sun or partial shade.
Angelica root tincture and dried herb are available to buy in our herbal shop.

harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The root is the part most commonly used in herbal medicine though in many parts of the world the leaves, flowers, seeds and stem are used in cooking and as a flavouring in alcoholic drinks such as vermouth and many other digestive liquers such as Benedictine, Galliano and Vespetror. The candied stem is still popular as an attractive and aromatic decoration for cakes and confectionery. Every part of the angelica plant is perfumed with a warm sweetish musky, juniper like aroma and flavour, with hints of celery and liqourice.

The root is harvested in the Autumn of its first year of growth, or if it is behaving like a perennial, any Autumn when the plant has yet to flower. It can be washed and cut into small pieces or slices, dried thoroughly and kept in an airtight jar in a dark cool place.

The leaves or flowers should be harvested in June before flowering. The seeds should be collected when they are fully ripe and dry if possible.

*If you want to collect angelica from the wild, be extremely cautious as many other very similar looking plants such as the deadly hemlock water dropwort, look very similar and grow in the same types of location.


Angelica root tincture and dried herb are available to buy in our herbal shop.

therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Angelica has been much favoured for hundreds of years as a remedy against contagious plaques and infectious diseases, for purifying the blood, improving digestion, relieving lung and chest complaints, improving joint disease and as a warming tonic for the entire system. It was a much favoured ally in the prevention of 'the plaque' in the middle ages - a small piece of root was held in the mouth all day and renewed daily to help combat infection. Paracelsus is quoted as saying it was a 'marvellous medicine' against the plaque in Milan in the early 1500's.
It has a relaxing and opening effect on the mind and is used to this day by northern European tribes such as the Saami for inducing meditative, imaginative and receptive states of mind during Shamanic journeying for example. The root is burned as an incense and the smoke inhaled.
It can help to improve mobility and flexibility in the joints so is useful in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism and spondylosis. Can also be used externally as a rub or poultice to encourage good circulation.
It is useful in conditions involving the immune and lymphatic system such as mumps, glandular fever, coughs, lung congestion, tuberculosis, bronchitis, pleurisy and all catarrhal conditions including deafness due to excess catarrh.
Fevers can be improved as it warms the system and opens the skin and encourages sweating and a resulting cooling effect.
The elderly, infirm or those convalescing can benefit from the warming, nutritive, restorative and supportive tonic action of angelica. It gently stimulates and improves digestion, absorption of nutrients and encourages the appetite which is often low in these situations. If the complexion is pale, grey, yellow and liverish or dark purplish red from congested blood then angelica may be useful.
Stimulates the womb and improves circulation to the reproductive area so is useful for bringing on absent periods and regulating erratic menstrual cycles and resolving orchitis.
Its medicinal actions include:

Angelica is a warming diuretic and can help eliminate water retention anywhere in the body by stimulating the kidneys to excrete more. Useful in cystitis with other urinary herbs.

Smooth muscle relaxant, antispasmodic and an aromatic yet bitter carminative to the digestive system, relieving flatulence, adult colic and indigestion, improves the appetite (useful in eating disorders such as anorexia) and helping the body gain weight, helping with the effects of bad food or poisoning, benefits the liver and spleen, fermentation in the stomach, intestinal sluggishness and blockages, cramping and spasms, chronic gastritis and heartburn.

Antibacterial and anti-fungal hence its use in infectious diseases. Useful in colds, flu, fevers and chills.

Its unique essential oil enhances the digestive process, increases the metabolism of fats and oils, stimulates the gallbladder to release bile and lubricates the bowel.

It warms, moves and diffuses any stagnating fluid such as blood, mucous or lymph thereby relieving congestive states such as chronic lung congestion, pneumonia and catarrh and improves circulation generally.

Anticancer, antimutagenic and can have a place in the treatment of tumours and cancers.

Stimulating and supportive to the heart and circulation, including poor blood flow to the hands and feet as in Raynauds disease and even help to improve energy levels and alleviate fatigue.

It has a relaxing effect on the nervous system and can help in headaches and anxiety.

It may help the body withdraw from alcohol as it is said to cause a revulsion to alcohol.

Here is a link to a useful pdf file detailing the medicinal and edible uses of angelica in Scandinavian countries.




dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

*Angelica is considered a powerful warming and heating herb so is best avoided by those with 'hot' constitutions. It is usually used in combination with other herbs as its effects can be powerful. Do not take continuously but rather a few days on then a few days off, perhaps with a couple of weeks break in between.

*Do not use during pregnancy due to its ability to stimulate the womb. Avoid when breastfeeding also.

*Avoid if you have diabetes as it encourages a raising of blood sugar levels.

*Angelica can cause photosensitivity (making the skin more sensitive to the effects of the sun) so be careful in the sun if you are taking angelica medicinally.

*Do not take during menstruation as it can increase bleeding.

*Be aware of taking angelica with heart, blood thinning or clotting medications. Caution is advised if taking prescribed medicines generally.


Start with small doses of angelica, drops even, to begin with as a little can go a long way and too much can be over stimulating.

Take just before or just after meals for maximum beneficial effects on digestion.

Small amounts of seeds, stalk and leaves can be used as flavourings in drinks, cakes etc.


Tincture: 0.5-2mls in a little water, 1-3 times daily

Dried root in tea form: up to 2g as a tea (about a teaspoon), 3 times daily

Dried leaf or seed in tea form: 2-5g (1-2 teaspoons) up to 3 times daily

Powdered root: 1 capsule of powdered herb before meals

Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.



Child watering plants




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