Hello floral friends!
This morning I am excited to share my herbal profile of the lovely Angelica with you all! This herb’s botanical name, Angelica archangelica, indicates the significance of this plant’s healing properties as well as giving a nod to its myth of origin. Angelica can be made into a warming tonic, excellent for aiding digestion and poor circulation as well as increasing the rate of recovery in someone who has recently undergone invasive surgery or dealt with a chronic illness. As I mentioned back in my plant profile of Yarrow, I occasionally picture plants as people, as funny as that may sound. When I think of Angelica, I picture a tall, elegant woman sitting at the bedside of the sick and infirm, gently nursing them back to health, and guarding against death and illness. Continue to reading to learn more about this stimulating and supportive herb!
Angelica’s Traditional Uses
Angelica derives its botanical name from its blooming period and origin story. The herb begins to flower right around the Feast of the Apparition of St. Michael, in early May. The explanation for this timing is due to Angelica’s roots (no pun intended) in Christian folklore– back in 1665, the Archangel Michael came to a monk in a dream, and explained that a humble herb could be used as a cure for the bubonic plague that was sweeping across the European continent. Michael showed the herb to the monk in his dream, and when the monk awoke and went out into the countryside to find the herb, he named it Angelica archangelica, in honor of Archangel Michael. As a result, the European countryside was nearly stripped of the herb, but Angelica developed a reverential status in the eyes of the common people that still persists to this day.
Other names for Angelica are Masterwort, Ground Ash, Holy Ghost Root and Archangel Root. Its holy affiliation tied it closely to the powers of supernatural protection– worried peasant mothers made necklaces of angelica leaves for their children, and placed pieces of the herb in white bags for use in the cribs of newborn babies for protection. Witches were said to be unable to use the herb, and so if a woman grew angelica in her garden or had it in her home, it became her defense if ever she were accused of witchcraft. In modern pagan tradition, angelica is used for general protection, especially against evil otherworldly spirits and hexes, and with a particular affinity for female protection. The herb is said to be sacred to Venus as well, and associated with the sun and element of fire.
The first thing to note in this section on Angelica is that it belongs to the species of Apiaceae, as do several other plants that are in fact poisonous to humans. If you are intending to wildcraft angelica, please make sure that it is indeed Angelica archangelica, and not one of its many look-like cousins, such as water hemlock. Angelica archangelica can be identified by where it grows– damp soil near water sources such as rivers, streams or ponds– and its appearance. In its first year of growth, the herb solely grows leaves, but in the second year and beyond the hollow stalk grows up to 8 feet tall, and its leaves are subdivided into bunches of three on each stem, with the leaves themselves being in three parts as well, serrated along their edges. The leaves and stalks are light lime green, and the blossoms that arrive around St. Michael’s Day are a yellow-green in color, grouped into large, globular umbels, or clusters. Angelica archangelica grows wild across northern Europe, and variants grow around the globe, such as Angelica atropurpurea in North America and Angelica sinensis in Asia.
Healing Attributes of Angelica
The key actions of angelica are that it is an expectorant, a mild muscle relaxant, that it relieves gas, stimulates appetite and digestive juices, stimulates sweating and cooling, and strengthens weak circulation. Whew! It’s quite the list. Angelica is best taken as a tincture, capsule or tablet, and the main parts of the plant used for medicinal purposes are the root and seed. Take a peek at the list below to learn about specific ways you can incorporate angelica into your herbal medicine cabinet!
- Shortness of breath- Tea, tincture or capsule of angelica
- Poor appetite- Tincture of angelica
- Breaking a fever- chop one dried angelica root up, simmer in 1 cup boiling water for several minutes, strain + let cool. Add one teaspoon of honey to tea and drink. Consume regularly to break the fever quickly.
- Indigestion, gas and bloating- Tincture of angelica
- Supporting circulation- Tea, tincture or capsule of angelica
Angelica should be avoided by pregnant or lactating women, as should people taking high blood pressure medication or those taking anticoagulants. Diabetics should also not use this herb as it causes an increase in urinal sugars.
The recommended dose for angelica is 2-4 grams a day, or maximum of 30 grams a week. When used medicinally, the herb Angelica is often paired with Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) for increased effectiveness!
Thank you so much for reading! Please let me know in the comments what kind of experiences you’ve had with Angelica, I’m always on the lookout for more information to add to my materia medica. Here’s hoping this entry was helpful to you, and I hope to see you back here again soon!
Warm wishes + withania,