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Angelica archangelica derives from the Medieval Latin “herba angelica,” or “angelic herb.” It was so named because it was believed to have special powers against poison and the plague. It was also believed that angelica protected against contagious disease, wards off evil spirits, bestows a long life, and cures the bites of mad dogs.

Angelica is a native of Northern Europe, but is now naturalized throughout Europe and the United States. It is a biennial plant and can grow up to 8 feet tall. In the garden it is best planted in partial shade, in rich, moist soil.

Angelica is an aromatic plant, and both the flowers and the roots are used medicinally. Its main components are phellandrene and limonene, but also contains coumarin, glycosides, organic acids, bitter compounds, tannins and sugars. These constituents are what give Garden Angelica tonic carmative, stomachic and antispasmodic actions.

Angelica can be used for loss of appetite, flatulence and bronchial catarrh. Angelica also contains volatile aromatic oils, sugar, valeric acid, angel acid, and a resin known as angelicin. Herbalists use it to aid in the elimination of toxins, for the recovery from rheumatism and colds, urinary complaints, and as an aid against colic.

Research shows that angelica stimulates the circulation and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Young leaves of the plant can be made into tea. It is beneficial to drink the tea one hour before going to bed to reduce tension. It’s also good for nervous headaches, indigestion, anemia, coughs and colds. The tea made from the root is said to be especially soothing for colds. Externally angelica is used in bath preparations for relief of exhaustion. Crushed leaves of angelica freshen the air.

Angelica is also used to relieve menstrual discomfort, to minimize the symptoms of menopause, and as an aid in the prevention of arthritis. Diabetics or pregnant women should not use angelica as it increases the blood sugar, and is an emmagogue.

The juice of the plant has been used to relieve toothaches, clean wounds, and to soothe the stomach. Angelica contains vitamin E, calcium and certain species of the plant even contain vitamin B1, which is rare in vegetation.

Angelica is also at home in the kitchen and has been used as a flavoring for tea since the 10th century. Candied stems of the plant were a popular confection, and Norwegian cooks use the powdered root in their baked goods.

To make a medicinal tea, use 1 teaspoon of the crushed root per cup of boiling water. Steep 15 minutes. The tea has a fragrant aroma and a vaguely sweet taste, followed by a pleasant, bitter aftertaste. If using commercial preparations, always follow package directions.

Angelica lives up to its name as the angel of herbs!