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Angelica archangelica

Not an airy-fairy, dainty little flower, as the name might suggest - the archangel herb Angelica has a powerful presence that demands attention when one happens upon one in the woods. However, this is a rare occurrence, since Angelica is an immigrant from the north and is not commonly found in Britain, although at one time, it was frequently grown in the gardens. One is more likely to find the native relation, A. sylvestris, which, although also quite imposing, is dwarfed in comparison with the true Archangel. Angelica is one of the few herbs that have migrated south. It originates in the far north of Lapland and Siberia, where it enjoys a cult status that far predates the Christian era. In the North it is considered an ancient power plant that protects against all evil and was carried as an amulet to ward off any form of wicked sorcery. During the dark ages, when the Black Death ravaged Europe, Angelica was highly revered for its powers to protect against this merciless killer. According to the old legend, the Holy Ghost itself visited a sleeping monk and revealed Angelica's protective powers in a dream. Doctors, who were constantly at risk of infection, protected themselves by placing a piece of the root underneath the tongue. Considering the numerous impending threats from infectious diseases today, it might be worth remembering this half-forgotten use of Angelica root. Since the Black Death has subsided Angelica has lost some of its reputation. Today it is not much used at all, except in old fashioned candies or as an ingredient of herbal liqueurs. It should not be allowed to sink into oblivion though, for it has many useful properties as a general tonic and strengthening herb, especially for the digestive system.

It is also indicated for colds, coughs and flu like infections, and has a reputation for curing old, entrenched coughs like few other herbs can. It has also been rumoured that Angelica may have, wholly un-angelic, aphrodisiac properties - (though some authors claim the opposite, that it may quench desires of the flesh, but this is probably more due to a deduction from its name rather than its actual virtues). Angelica has long been an ingredient in herbal liqueurs such as vermouth and chartreuse, though old herbals also recommend it as a remedy to cure an unseemly liking for spirits and alcohol.

The majestic Angelica is a prime protector against all manner of demons and diseases, in short, a shield against all evil. It also gives courage and brings calm to those pained by fear and anxiety. Like a guardian angel, angelica provides inner strength and guidance. It promotes self-confidence and radiates a glow of health and happiness.

Garden Angelica, Archangelica officinalis.

Not all herbs are suitable in pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children, or if you are unwell, or taking any medication. If in doubt, please ask a medical herbalist or healthcare practitioner.