Angelica Information, Uses and Side effects

Angelica plant belongs to Genus Angelica and family Apiaceae. Many species of plan have been used traditionally as anti-inflammatory, diuretic, expectorant and diaphoretic, and remedy for colds, flu, influenza, hepatitis, arthritis, indigestion, coughs, chronic bronchitis, pleurisy, typhoid, headaches, wind, fever, colic, travel sickness, rheumatism, bacterial and fungal infections and diseases of the urinary organs.

Angelica medicinal uses

There are about 60 species of this genus found at high altitudes in temperate and subarctic regions. Many of these species e.g. A. acutiloba, A. archangelica, A. atropupurea, A. dahurica, A. japonica, A. glauca, A. gigas, A. koreana, A. sinensis, A. sylvestris, etc. Angelica species grows up to 1-3 meter tall. They have large bipinnate leaves and large compound umbels of white or greenish-white flowers. The roots are rhizomatous and used all over the world medicinally.

Various herbal preparations containing Angelica species are available over-the-counter, in many countries such as India, USA, UK, Germany, etc.

Species of Angelica Commonly Used Therapeutically

  1. Angelica glauca (Choraka, Chora, Chonaka)
  2. Angelica archangelica (Angelica)
  3. Angelica atropurpurea (American angelica, Purple angelica, Alexanders)
  4. Angelica polymorpha var. sinensis (Chinese angelica, dong quai)
  5. Angelica gigas (Korean angelica)

In Europe, Angelica archangelica is commonly known as Masterwort, Archangel, Holy Ghost Plant, and St. Michael's Plant, since it blooms on his day (May 8) in many parts of the world. It is named Angelica in English which means Herbs of Angel. It was also used in Europe to ward off evil spirits. The leaves of plant were tied around a child's neck to protect him against witchcraft and evil spells.

It is widely used in treatment of variety of diseases like plague, pleurisy, cough, flu, bronchial catarrh, rheumatism, uterine stimulant etc. In fact, it is the most widely used European plant. It is especially useful in menstrual disorders. It regulates periods, and helps in expulsion of placenta after delivery.

In Homeopathy, the Angelica Root Tincture is used in dose of 5 drops, thrice a day to treat disgust for liquor, atony of different organs, dyspepsia, nervous headache, chronic bronchitis and increase expectoration.

In America, whole root, powdered roots, sliced roots, alcoholic extracts and capsule are available for therapeutic purpose. The extract available in form of capsule of strength 550 mg is given in dose of one to two capsules two times a day.

Chinese angelica, Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis) is the most popular Chinese herbs. It is a tonic that improves hemoglobin level. Chinese angelica is used treat irregular menstruation, fatigue, mild anemia and high blood pressure. It is also used as an aphrodisiac. The rhizome strengthens liver function and has a general antibiotic effect.

Choraka / Chora / Chonaka / Angelica (Angelica glauca), is a medicinal plant found in Himalaya. The aromatic roots and rhizomes of this plant are used in Ayurveda for treating anemia, weakness, fluid retention in joints, dropsy, fever, diseases of lung, constipation and respiratory ailments.

General Information about Angelica glauca

In Ayurveda, Chorak consists of dried mature root and root stock of plant Angelica glauca, a plant found in temperate north-west Himalayas. It is a glabrous herb reaching up to height of 1.5 m. It is tall, erect, grooved and fistular with pinnately divided leaves having compound umbels of white or purple flowers.

Scientific Classification Angelica

The botanical name of Choraka is Angelica glauca. It is found growing in Kashmir, Shimla, Chamba, Sikkim and other Himalayan region. It belongs to plant family Apiaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  1. Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
  2. Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  3. Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  4. Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  5. Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  6. Subclass: Rosidae
  7. Order: Apiales
  8. Family: Apiaceae ⁄ Umbelliferae – Carrot family
  9. Genus: Angelica L. – angelica

Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Roots of plant

Substitute: Roots of Angelica archagelica Linn.

Distribution: Temperate North-West Himalayas at an altitude ranging between 3000-4500 meters.

Habitat: Kashmir and Chamba in Himachal Pradesh.

Status: Rare

Vernacular Names

  • English: Angelica
  • Sanskrit: Taskarah, Ksemakah, Choraka, Chorakaa, Kopana, Chorakakhya,
  • Nishachara, Dhanhar, Kopana, Corama
  • Bengali: Chorak
  • Gujrati: Chorak
  • Hindi: Choraa, Gandrayan, Rikha Choraa
  • Kannada: Choraka
  • Malayalam: Choraka Pullu
  • Marathi: Corak
  • Punjabi: Choraa, Churaa
  • Telugu: Gaddi Davanamu
  • Chinese: Dang-gui, Pinyin, Wade-Giles, Tang-kuei

Constituents of Angelica glauca

Oxypeucedanin, 3-butylidene phthalide, 3-butylidene dihydrophthalide [(E-and (Z)-ligustilide] and dimers of butylphthalides [angiolide, angelicolide].

Dosage of Choraka

The root powder is used in dose of 3-5 grams. Children of 5-16 are given half of the adult dose.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

Therapeutic use of Angelica glauca is mentioned in classical Ayurvedic treatise. Charak prescribed the roots for headaches, insanity, and epilepsy and respiratory ailments. Sushruta, used the leaves internally for skin eruptions and bone fractures. Chorak improves blood circulation and loosen the phlegm. Since it is heating, it gives relief in phlegm.

Chorak is in Sweet-Pungent-Bitter in taste (Ras) and Light-Sharp-Dry in action (Guna). Its post-digestive effect (Vipak) is Pungent. It is an Ushna Virya herb. Ushna Virya or hot potency herb, subdues Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Mucus) and increases Pitta (Bile). It has property of digestion, vomiting and purging, and gives feeling of lightness. It is considered bad for sperms and fetus.

  1. Rasa (taste on tongue): Madhura (Sweet), Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
  2. Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Tikshna (Sharp), Ruksha (Dry)
  3. Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  4. Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

Karma / Action

  1. Kaphahara reduces phlegm
  2. Medohara antiobesity
  3. Vamak (emesis of bile, mucus and other contents of the stomach)
  4. Vatahara
  5. Deepana (promote appetite but do not aid in digesting undigested food)
  6. Pachan (assist in digesting undigested food, but do not increase the appetite)
  7. Vranaprasadana wound healing

Important Ayurvedic formulations

  1. Guduchyadi Modaka for urinary and gynecological problems

  2. Balaswagandhadi Tailam for joint, nerves and muscles

  3. Mahanarayana Taila for joint and muscular pain

Therapeutic Uses of Chorak

  1. Epilepsy (Apasmara)
  2. Asthma (Shvasa)
  3. Hiccups (Hikka)
  4. Fever (Jvara)
  5. Itching (Kandu)
  6. Skin disease (Kushtha)
  7. Insanity, Schizophrenia (Unmada)
  8. Wound (Vrana)
  9. Blood impurities (Rakt Dosha)
  10. Diseases due to poison (Visharoga)
  11. Poor appetite (Agnimandya)
  12. Headache (Shirah Shula)
  13. Rhinitis (Pratishyaya)
  14. Fever due to cold (Shitajvara)
  15. Diseases of children (Balaroga)

Important Medicinal Properties of Angelica

Angelica is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb.. For example, it stimulates periods and therefore must not be used in pregnancy. Its use can cause abortion. It is heating, increases circulation and thin the blood.

Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  1. Abortifacient: induces abortion.
  2. Antibacterial: active against bacteria.
  3. Cardio protective: protects heart.
  4. Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
  5. Cholagogue: promotes the discharge of bile from the system, purging it downward.
  6. Expectorant: promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
  7. Diaphoretic: promote sweating.
  8. Emmenagogue: stimulates or increases menstrual flow.
  9. Expectorant: promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
  10. Phototoxic: sun exposure induced skin irritation.

Health Benefits of Angelica

The roots are general tonic.

  1. It is warming herb.
  2. It decongests and promotes blood circulation.
  3. In respiratory ailments, it gives relief in symptoms of congestion, flu, cold and cough.
  4. It is beneficial in poor appetite and digestion.
  5. It helps in menstrual irregularities.
  6. It stimulates circulation in pelvic region.
  7. It stimulates menstruation.
  8. It is heating in nature and used in expulsion of placenta after childbirth.
  9. It gives relief in pain and cramps during periods.
  10. It contains phytoestrogens, and helps postmenopausal women to relieve symptoms especially hot flushes.

For centuries, Angelica roots has been brewed in Carmelite water. It was first made by the nuns of the Carmelite abbey of St Just in the 14th century and which was used all over Europe. Carmelite water, is a good tonic for heart and lungs, and has heating properties.

It is the main ingredient in Swedish bitters, a tonic that is still readily available and used for indigestion, headaches, and general ailments.

Contraindications, Interactions, and Side Effects of Angelica

  1. It should not be used in pregnancy and peptic ulcer.
  2. People taking blood thinning medicine should not use this herb.
  3. It should be taken occasionally.
  4. It should not be used over extended period of time.
  5. Avoid prolonged exposure to sun. It may cause skin photosensitivity or dermatitis due to the presence of furanocoumarins.
  6. They must be identified carefully in the wild because of resemblance to other members of family Apiaceae, which are poisonous, especially poison hemlock (Conium muculatum).
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