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The Aromatherapy School

Aromatherapy Monograph / Essential Oil Monograph

Angelica Essential Oil


Joie Power, Ph.D.


Angelica archangelica

There are many species of angelica but the only one used in aromatherapy is Angelica archangelica. It’s a beautiful tall, airy plant with fern-like leaves and lacy umbelliferous flowers that are generally greenish white in color with some variants edging toward purple as the season progresses. It’s often referred to as a biennial because it does die after flowering and producing seeds one time but it may take more that 2 years for it to flower so some botanists prefer to classify it as a perennial.

The native range of the species is debatable - some botanists believe that its native to Syria and some say to Siberia but regardless of where it started its naturalized now all over northern Europe, growing wild in the Scandinavian countries and even Greenland and Iceland. It’s cultivated in Europe and Africa and as a garden plant in many places where the climate is not too hot. We have a native or naturalized species of wild angelica in NC that’s very similar.

Essential oil is extracted from the plant by distillation of either the root or the seed and the plant is cultivated for Essential Oil production mainly in Belgium, Hungary and Germany. We have some beautiful angelica oil from a small co-op in Canada (available for sale from Artisan Aromatics).

It's a very interesting plant and one of my favorites.

One of the myths about angelica is that it was the Archangel Gabriel who told humans about the medicinal properties of the plant. Another variation of the myth is that it was the archangel Raphael who taught a monk how to use it in the 10th century and told him that it would be a great remedy for the plague.

It has been in use in European medicine since the 10th century (mostly the root) and its mentioned in a pamphlet published by the Royal College of Physicians in 1665, the year of the Great Plague. It was probably the single most important herb of the Middle Ages due to the common belief of that time that it could prevent and treat all kinds of epidemics.

The name alone tells you that this plant has been regarded in folk medicine and myth as a very, very powerful plant. It was believed to protect against witches and evil eye and all kinds of bad spells and influences and it's also been known as Herb of the Holy Spirit and Herb of the Holy Ghost.

The root and seed oil have very similar properties but the root oil is phototoxic while the seed oil is not.

ENERGY: Warm and Dry
SECONDARY: Earth and Water
CHAKRA: seven
TROPISMS: Respiratory, digestive

TCM ACTIONS: In Chinese Medicine it's said to increase guardian chi which means that it fights infections. It strengthens the Lung Qi and rids wind and dries damp in the lungs so it good for colds and flu and bronchitis - especially where the chest feels tight and coughing is not productive (combine with frankincense for this). Its ability to dry damp would also make it good for cystitis.

It strengthens the Spleen and is good for many digestive complaints.

In Chinese Medicine it's also said to regulate and normalize menstruation. And it's used for any kind of dysmenorrhea - cramps, delayed onset, PMS, scanty menses, excessive menses. Midwives use it to promote labor.

SUBTLE ACTIONS: releases negative emotions from trauma and promotes emotional balance.

WESTERN ACTIONS AND USES: antispasmodic, carminative/digestive, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, nervine, tonic.

It's used in aromatherapy for dull and congested skin, irritated skin, and psoriasis. It's a great blood cleaner so it's useful for conditions that reflect an accumulation of toxins, such as gout, rheumatism, and arthritis.

Its helps to dispel water retention associated with menstruation.

It's great for colds and has the same uses in that regard as it does in Chinese Medicine.

Many aromatherapists regard Angelica as having a strengthening effect on the nervous system and use it in cases of nervous exhaustion and fatigue related to stress and tension.

CAUTIONS: As I mentioned, the root oil is phototoxic so don't use it when you'll be going into the sun or under sun lamps. It's an emmenagogue so don't use it with pregnant women. Julia Lawless cautions against using it with diabetics. Otherwise, it's non-toxic and non-irritant.

*This information is provided for educational interest and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

Copyright © 2010 Joie Power, Ph.D. / The Aromatherapy School  |  All Rights Reserved

Dr. Power is a retired board certified neuropsychologist and former Assistant Professor of Surgery/Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Georgia, where she performed intra-operative cortical mapping with renowned neurosurgeon Herman Flanigan, M.D. She has over 20 years of clinical experience in both in-patient and out-patient settings and during her years of practice has also been both a practitioner and student of alternative healing methods, including herbal medicine, aromatherapy, Reiki, Chinese Medicine, and other energetic healing systems. Her extensive formal training and experience in the olfactory and limbic systems of the brain give her a unique qualification for understanding the actions of essential oils in the body. Dr. Power, founder of one of the earliest essential oil companies in the U.S. to specialize in therapeutic quality essential oils, is now a clinical consultant for Artisan Aromatics as well as an internationally known writer and teacher in the fields of aromatherapy and alternative medicine. Her approach to aromatherapy weaves together her solid scientific training and strong clinical skills with a holistic philosophy that honors body, mind and spirit. Dr. Joie Power is also the author of The Quick Study Guide to Aromatherapy and numerous published articles on aromatherapy and related topics.

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