Angelica is a perennial plant found in the moist mountain
ravines, meadows, and coastal regions of northern Europe and Asia, and is
widely cultivated. Angelica has a round, hollow stem which grows from a
reddish-brown rootstock. The purplish stem is branched near the top and can
reach three to seven feet in height. The leaves are triangular and can grow up
to 20 inches in length. The largest leaves are near the base of the plant; they
grow smaller higher up the stem. They are divided and subdivided two to three
times and possess strongly toothed margins. From June to August the plant bears
greenish-white flowers which emit a honey-like odor. The flowers are displayed
in inverted umbrella-shaped umbels characteristic of the umbelliferae family.
The fruit appears as two double-winged seeds which mature from the flower. The
medicinal parts are the rootstock and the leaves.
Other common names: European angelica,
|| Caffeinic acid
|| Citric acid
|| Fatty acids
| Fumaric acid
| Linoleic acid
|| Oxalic acid
|| Phenolic compound
| Plant acids
|| Volatile oils
* For definition of some of the above terms
see the dictionary section of this book.
|| Vitamin C
PROPERTIES AND USES
Appetizer - a substance which stimulates the
Carminative - an agent which assists in the
expelling of gas from the intestines.
Diuretic- Diuretics form a class of drugs which
increase the volume of urine produced by the kidneys. It can be used
effectively to treat mild cases of edema when kidney function is good and when
the underlying abnormality of cardiac function, capillary pressure, or salt
retention is being corrected simultaneously. Diuretics are not an appropriate
treatment for edema caused by inflammation of the kidneys, and are useless in
cardiac edema associated with advanced kidney insufficiency. There are a
variety of diuretics with different modes of action. Among the diuretics are
spironolactones, triamterene, and theobromine.
Emmenagogue - an agent which stimulates menstrual
Expectorant - an agent which stimulates the outflow
of mucus from the lungs and bronchials.
Stimulant - an agent that temporarily increases the
activity or physiological processes. Stimulants may be classified according to
the organ upon which they act; for example, an intestinal stimulant is that
which stimulates the intestines.
Stomachic - a substance which excites, strengthens,
and tones the stomach.
Tonic - an agent which strengthens or tones.
The American variety has a reputation as a carminative to
soothe upset stomach. It has proven antispasmodic properties for improved
gastrointestinal function, including help in ulcers, vomiting, stomach cramps,
colic and digestives system problems. Angelica is used externally to soothe
rheumatism, arthritis, and skin disorders; internally, it is used in the
treatment of anorexia, dyspepsia, and stomach ulcers.
It has been shown to have moderate antibacterial and
antifungal properties. A constituent of the herb, angelica, when administered
intravenously in doses of 20 mg/kg had a depressive effect on the central
nervous system. Effects were dosage dependent, appearing within one half hour
and persisting for 5 to 24 hours. A dose of 40 mg yielded about the same
results as the same dose of chlordiazepoxide. Angelican also markedly inhibited
hyperactivity induced by amphetamines. Angelican was also found to be
spasmolytic, demonstrating a marked relaxation of rabbit duodenum.
Angelica is generally regarded as safe by the FDA.
In folk medicine, large doses are said to adversely affect
blood pressure, heart action and respiration.
Angelica is high in coumarins, many which are phototoxic
to human skin. Hyperpigmentation of the face and neck have been attributed to
coumarins similar to those of angelica (the actual coumarins were from bergamot
oil). The root oil has been reported to be phototoxic. Recently, scientists
have stated that these coumarins (called psoralens) pose a serious health
hazard to man and should be avoided, externally or internally. It is, however,
too soon to tell if the ingestion of angelica on a moderate basis would produce
Angelica should be used with caution by diabetics because
it increase blood sugar levels. It is also an emmenagogue, and so should not be
used by pregnant women. Used in large doses, angelica can have an adverse
effect on blood pressure, heart action and respiration. The juice of the fresh
root is bitter and poisonous, but dissipates when dried. A species of Chinese
angelica, A. polymorpha var. sinensis (tang-kuei, dong-qui or dong-quai) may be
harmful to women who experience excessive and frequent menstruation, since this
herb promotes greater blood circulation.
DRUG PRECAUTIONS AND
A mixture containing astragalia radix,
cinnamon, peony, cnidii rhioma, angelica root, ginseng root, and licorice root
has been shown to enhance antitumor activity and to decrease the toxicity of
Angelica seeds, in so far as their diuretic
action, increase renal excretion of sodium and chloride, may potentiate the
hyperglycemic and hyperuricemic effect of glucose elevating agents.
In addition, the diuretic actions of angelica
seeds may potentiate the action of antihypertensive, ganglionic or peripheral
adrenergic blocking drugs, tubocurarine, and to a lesser degree,
The oxytocic property of angelica, in
conjunction with vasoconstrictors such as ephedrine, methoxamine, phenylephrine
or sympathomimetics, may cause severe hypertension.
In addition, citrates, in conjunction with angelica, may
produce erratic and unpredictable results, due to the oxytocic action of the
herb. It should also be noted that angelica root and sparteine may have
synergistic oxytocic activity.
The anticoagulant effects of coumarins, such as angelica,
are antagonized by vitamin K, mendadione, and menadiol sodium diphosphate.
Conversely, allopurinol has been tentatively shown to increase the half-life of
The hypoprothrombinemic effect of angelica root may be
increased by the antiarrhythmic agent, quinidine.
As a diuretic, angelica seed is more prone to produce
hypokalemia, in conjunction with cortiocotropin (ACTH) or corticosteroids. The
use of this diuretic herb may also require dosage adjustments of antidiabetic
drugs. In addition, the diuretic action of angelica seeds may reduce renal
clearance of lithium.
Although the coumarin content of angelica is
not high at normal usage levels, it is important to note that coumarins can
affect the action of almost any drug.
Prolonged use of diuretics such as angelica
seed may affect certain laboratory test results such as electrolytes,
especially potassium and sodium, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), uric acid, glucose,
and protein bound iodine (PBI).
There is evidence to show that combining bactericidal and
bacteriostatic agents will lower the effectiveness of the bacteriostatic agent.