Angelica (Dang Gui)
Botanical Name: Western – Angelica archangelica, A. offcinalis, A. sylvestris. Eastern – Angelica sinensis, A. polymorpha.
Since very early times, angelica or dang gui has been viewed as a cure-all, blood purifier, digestive and protector against enchantment and plagues. The Chinese revere it as one of the fundamental herbs aiding female disorders. Due to their aromatic qualities the dried leaves are used in preparing hop bitters. It is the most highly regarded blood tonic in Asia, and is used by both men and women.
Below is an overview of angelica, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of angelica.
Western Name: Angelica
Also Known As: Angelica Root, Choraka, Holy Ghost, Angel’s Food, Aunt Jericho, St Michael’s Flower, Archangel
Organs/Systems: Heart, Lungs, Uterus, Joints, Stomach
Key Western Actions: Carminative, Stimulant, Diaphoretic, Stomachic, Tonic, Expectorant, Emmenagogue, Digestive, Antiseptic, Analgesic, Relaxant, Aromatic, Bitter, Nervine, Stimulant.
Medicinal Uses: Heartburn, intestinal gas, loss of appetite, arthritis, circulation, anxiety, insomnia, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, promotes urination, improves sex drive, treats colds, pleurisy, coughs, fevers, intestinal gas, loss of appetite, Used externally for joint pain, nerve pain, and skin disorders. The resin angelicin is stimulating to the lungs and skin. Fresh leaves are used in poultices for lung and chest diseases. Angelica is a traditional birthing herb used to assist delayed labor and to help expel the placenta following childbirth.
Also Known As: Dong Qui, Dang Quai, Tang Guai (literal translation means “State of Return”)
Meridians: Heart, Liver, Spleen, Kidney
Key Actions: Tonifies the Blood, Invigorates and Harmonizes Blood, Disperses Cold, Moistens Intestines, Unblocks the Bowels, Reduces Swelling and Expels Pus, Generates Flesh, Alleviates Pain.
Medicinal Uses: Menstrual disorders, important herb for stopping pain due to blood stasis, commonly used for abdominal pain and traumatic injury, sores, abscesses where tonifying and moving blood aid recovery, infertility, lowers blood pressure, lowers blood sugar, anxiety, undeveloped fetus, menopause symptoms, anemia, improves circulation, loss of appetite, nausea, anxiety, insomnia, heartburn, neuralgia, premature ejactulation, nicotine withdrawal, colds, coughs, bronchitis, beautify the skin.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Root, Seed, Leaves, Fruit
Flavors/Temps: Warming, Sweet, Acrid, Bitter
Caution: Considered a tonic herb and generally very safe.
History/Folklore: Angelica roots are used medicinally and the stems can be used for flavoring candy and stews. The stems were also used to prevent and aid indigestion the only herb stronger, was ginger. Angelica has a long history of protecting against contagion, purifying the blood, and curing every conceivable ailment. After the introduction into Christianity, the plant became associated with an archangelic patronage and was associated with the spring-time festival of the Annunciation.
In one legend, angelica was revealed in a dream by an angel to cure the plague and give the plant its name, “Angelica.” Another source for its name is thought to be that it blooms on the day of Michael the Archangel (May 8th) and therefore is a ward against evil spirits and witchcraft. All parts of the plant are believed to protect against harm, spells and enchantments.
Angelica was used in the Middle Ages as a natural restorative and health tonic.
Old writers compare the scent of angelica to musk or juniper, even the roots are fragrant. Even deer and fish were said to be attracted to the plant’s scent so it was used as bait.
The roots need to be dried quickly and sealed in air-tight containers in order to maintain their medicinal values for many years. The roots are dug up in the autumn of the first year.
Angelica’s properties are best extracted in alcohol, though water can be used.
Natives of Lapland use the fleshy roots as food and the stalks as medicine. Leaves can be added to cooked dishes, soups, and stew.
Angelica is said to protect against negative energies and is used in herbal baths to remove curses. It can be sprinkled around the house to purify the environment and protect against unwanted spirits.
In Chinese Medicine, angelica (danga gui) is one of the most respected female tonic herbs. It is considered one of the best blood tonics available and is used by both men and women to help build and nourish blood. Women especially use the herb to tonify the reproductive organs. It can be used before, during, and after pregnancy. Research has proven it tonifies the entire female hormonal system. Consumed raw or with alcohol angelica can relax the uterus. Used with water it is said to tonify the uterus and can stimulate contractions. It has been used to help develop an undeveloped fetus. It is used the world over for treating symptoms associated with menopause.
The herb is used to improve blood circulation, beautify the skin, and hasten the healing of cuts, sores, and wounds. Angelica can help lower blood pressure and relax the cardiac muscle. It also helps lower blood sugar levels.
Angelica has a gentle calming effective that is useful for treating anxiety and calming the effects of stress.
The preparation of angelica is an important industry in the South of France where it is purchased by confectioners and also used to make the liquors Vermouth and Chartreuse. It is also used to flavor gin, Dubonnet and Benedictine.
The German Commission E, health organization approved a tea of 20% angelica, 40% gentian (Gentiana lutea), and 40% caraway seed (Carum carvi) as a tea for children to treat upset stomachs.
Angelica is said to symbolize ecstasy, inspiration and magic.
In China, the upper part of the plant is said to treat the head best, the middle part of the root is said to help preserve the internal organs and strengthen the body, , and the tips of the roots, which are considered less tonifying are said to be more blood moving.
In Oriental medicine, frying the herb in vinegar or wine strengthens the blood-invigorating properties. Toasting the herb to ash enhances its ability to warm the Channels (Meridians) and stop bleeding.
Herbs that are dry, totally lacking in oil, or have greenish-brown cross section should not be used. Good quality is large, long, moist, oily, fragrant with a yellowish-white cross section. The larger the root and the sweeter the taste, equal the better quality roots. Do not purchase very small roots.
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The Root of the Holy Ghost
Angelica was held in such esteem that it was called “The Root of the Holy Ghost” in early Christian Europe.
Angelica vs. Hemlock
Use gloves while pruning as the plant can cause dermatitis and photosensitivity. Do NOT confuse with Hemlock which is poisonous and whose leaves smell foul when crushed. Angelica’s leaves are not foul smelling.
Angelica’s seeds and stems are used in confectionery, flavoring and the preparation of liqueurs.
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