Angelica (Angelica archangelica L.) is a biennial herbaceous species belonging to the Apiaceae family.
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Subclass Rosidae, Apiales Order, Apiaceae Family and then to the Angelic Genus and to the A. Archangelica Species.
The term Angelica comes from the medieval Latin herba angelica: it was believed that the plant protected from the devil and cured all diseases.
The specific archangelic epithet is composed of the reinforcing prefix arches and Angelica par excellence, in the highest degree; according to a legend, the archangel epithet would recall the intervention of the Archangel Michael to indicate to Matteus Sylvaticus, Mantua physician, that the angelic could recover from the plague; according to other scholars, the flowering of the angelica coincides with the anniversary of St. Michael the Archangel on May 8th.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The angelica archangelica is a plant that prefers wetlands throughout Europe. It grows spontaneously in Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, Faroe Islands and Iceland, especially in the northern parts of the countries. It is cultivated in France, mainly in the Marais Poitevin, a marshy region near Niort in the Deux-Sèvres department.
The angelica archangelica is a plant characterized by having an erect stem, robust, crossed by reddish streaks, which branches high up to bring large umbrellas with light yellow flowers. The leaves are long, three-thousand-seven, like big hands. The fruit is a flat achene. The root, thick and staple, is up to 30 cm long, brown on the outside and whitish on the inside, with a sweetish taste that tends to bitter.
The right time to grow the angelica is late winter and early spring. The seeds of angelica must first be sown in greenhouses and then subsequently transplanted in open field. It is a plant that tolerates very low temperatures and harsh winters and needs a moist soil, rich in organic substances and well drained. Before cultivation it is good to fertilize the soil with mature manure. For the cultivation technique, the following sheet can be consulted.
Uses and Traditions –
The angelica archangelica is used in herbal medicine that uses its roots, leaves and seeds, but the major treaties limit its intake and recommend use after medical consultation because in high doses the plant is poisonous and photosensitizing and forbids use in pregnancy and lactation.The angelica root is an excellent tonic of the general state, and can be used against fatigue and asthenia. The angelica also proves to be a good stimulant of the digestive system. It is indicated in case of intestinal pains and spasms, dyspepsia, intestinal gas.
According to the legend, the plant was given to the men by the Archangel Michael and for this reason it is sometimes called Erba degli Angeli or Erba dello spirito. According to other myths, however, Angelica would have been revealed in a dream by an angel for the treatment of sores.
In the mythology of the Nordic peoples it is connected to phenomena of ecstasy and spirituality. It is used in magical rituals dedicated to the sun and the moon.
Since ancient times the root was used both as a disinfectant and as a cicatrizant in stings or poisonous bites. During the Middle Ages, the monks made it a key ingredient of their tonic and friendly liqueurs. It was reputed to be effective against the plague and it was said that smelling an Angelica root soaked in vinegar could preserve it from the infection.
Considered solar and hot plant, it was indicated as a stimulating, antispasmodic and digestive remedy. Its most important action was however considered the depurative one, capable of eliminating bad moods, toxins and giving back to men their “angelic purity”.
In the folk tradition we used also the buds collected in spring, with which we obtained water suitable for menstrual pains and dysmenorrhea. It was also considered an excellent remedy for bronchitis, pleurisy, rheumatism and disorders of the digestive tract. It was considered contraindicated to diabetics because it was able to increase the levels of sugar in the urine. His infusion was considered useful for eliminating flatulence and solving indigestion.
The parts used are Roots (balsamic time early autumn) and Fruits (balsamic time August-September).
Its root, which becomes part of the most important elixirs of the past, was, especially in medieval times, considered an excellent nervine tonic, anti-infective and able to restore lost strength.
In the European tradition the tonic were almost all bitter plants (Genziana, China, Centaurea, Fenugreek) that, with their digestive action, operated a “put in motion” of the blocked energy with consequent general tonic effect.
The fruit, particularly rich in essential oil, is cited in the herbals as an emmenagogue, expectorant and diuretic and, pulverized, as an antiparasitic.
The active ingredients contained in Angelica are contained in its essential oil, composed of Monoterpenes (alpha and beta-Fellandrene, bisabolene, limonene, nitroderivates of Fellandrene); Acetaldeine; Macrocyclic lactones (pentadecanolide). In addition, there are Flavonoidi (arcangelenone); Cumarine (osthenol, ostolo, umbelliferone); Furanocoumarins (angelicin, bergaptene, imperatorine, xantotoxins); Sterols (beta-sitosterol); Fatty acids (palm, oleic and linoleic acid); Phenolic acids (phenolic, caffeic and chlorogenic acids) and Tannins.
The essential oil causes the release of the muscles of the intestine and uterus, while the aqueous extract causes an initial contraction of the muscles, followed by a relaxation phase. This confirms the traditional use of the drug in intestinal and uterine spasms.
Angelica compounds that block calcium channels are also able to relax the smooth muscles of the visceral organs. The action on the muscles could constitute the rational historical use of Angelica as hypotensive (muscles of the vessel wall) and antiasthmatic (bronchial smooth muscle). Angelica essential oil has shown significant antirust and antibacterial properties. It also performs a bitter-tonic and expectorant action.
Thanks to the presence of lactones and flavonoids, Angelica is a tonic of the central nervous system without exciting action. The lactones and flavonoids have a stimulating action of hepato-pancreatic secretions and increase the secretion of the gastric juice, improving digestion.
Dihydropiranocumarins and dihydrofuranocumarins are able to dilate the coronary vessels, eliminating the spasm vessel, through an antagonistic calcium action. It is hypothesized that they act by blocking the entry of calcium into the cell and preventing the contraction of myofibrils. It is believed to be useful in the treatment of arterial hypertension and angina. It is also thought to have anti-arrhythmic action, inhibiting platelet aggregation, hypotensive and implementing blood flow to the heart, brain and extremities. Coumarins have been shown to increase immune activity in both healthy and cancer patients. They are able to increase the activity of leukocytes, macrophages, NK cells, with enhancement of macrophage activity, the production of cytokines and interferon, with a final immunostimulatory effect. Angelicin (furanocoumarin) has a sedative effect of the same order of magnitude as chlordiazepoxide and also has a spasmolytic action at the gastroenteric and respiratory levels.
Phenolic acids, together with lactones and flavonoids, give Angelica cholagogue, carminative and eupeptic properties.
Angelica has no toxicity and is indicated by tradition as safe and well tolerated. For its effects on the uterus should not however be used during pregnancy. There are no studies that guarantee safety during breast-feeding, so it is better to avoid its use.
Very controversial is the precaution according to which those who use Angelica should not undergo treatment with ultraviolet, given the risk of phototoxicity resulting from the presence of psoralens.
In theory, Angelica can give interactions with plants that contain anticoagulant-antiaging agents, such as Anise, Arnica, Ginkgo, Garlic, Ginseng, Horse Chestnut, etc.
Moreover, due to its action on gastric secretion, it can (theoretically) decrease the effect of antacid drugs and give interactions with H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, decreasing their effectiveness.
The similarity with the other Umbelliferae, among which the poisonous Cicuta requires a certain attention in the collection. The Cicuta gives off an unpleasant smell of urine and the leaves are much more similar to parsley.
The angelica mixed with myrrh and diluted with 95 ° pure alcohol is used to prepare a deodorant scent.
The largest supplies of angelica available on the market often come from Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany and Poland.
Preparation Mode –
The angelica archangelica is also used in the kitchen. The stalks are used in confectionery and confectionery as candied fruit. The tender parts can be used as a condiment for flavoring salads or soups. The seeds and stems can be used in the preparation of liqueurs.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.
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