Chinese Angelica (Angelica Root)
What is Chinese Angelica (Angelica Root)?
Chinese Angelica (dang gui, 当归), also known as Angelica Root or Angelica Archangelica, comes from a plant in the Angelica genus which can grow up to 3m and has globe-like clusters of green or yellow flowers that blossom into small, yellow fruits. This plant also has a strong, unique smell that is often described as musky, earthy or herbaceous.
The plant’s root is usually harvested in Early Spring, when the seedlings have just begun to sprout, or in Late Fall, after the stems and leaves have withered. Afterwards, the fibrous roots and dirt are removed before the root is dried.
Angelica Root is also nicknamed as Dong Quai and Female Ginseng, the latter because it is frequently used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat female hormonal issues.
In TCM, Angelica Root falls under the category of ‘Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency’. It is used for patterns of deficiency to replenish one’s ‘Four Treasures’ (qi, blood, yin, yang). Warm in nature, this herb can help people who have too much ‘Cold’ in their body to restore their yin-yang balance, such as those who are experiencing Yin Excess or Yang Deficiency.
Pungent and sweet, Angelica Root tends to promote the circulation of qi and body fluid in the body. Also, it helps to slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body, and it also has a tonic effect on the human body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Angelica Root targets the Heart, the Liver and the Spleen.
Functions and Benefits of Chinese Angelica (Angelica Root)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Angelica Root has the following benefits.
Angelica Root helps to tonify the blood, and is thus used for all kinds of Blood Deficiency syndromes such as Blood Deficiency with Blood Stasis. It is frequently combined with other Blood–tonifying herbs to improve sallow complexion, vertigo and palpitation caused by Blood Deficiency.
Angelica Root is used to relieve pain syndromes caused by Blood Deficiency, Blood Stasis and congealing Cold. As the herb can tonify blood, activate blood, dispel Cold and alleviate pain, it can be combined with different herbs to form different combinations to tackle different pain causes. For example, to tackle abdomen pain caused by Blood Deficiency with Cold pathogens, Angelica Root can be combined with interior-warming and Cold-dispelling herbs.
Angelica Root helps to regulate menstruation, amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea. It is also indicated for other syndromes caused by Blood Deficiency and Blood Stasis before or after delivery.
Fourthly, Angelica Root can help to cure ulcers and sores, especially ulcers without burst of pus due to Blood Deficiency. This is because the herb can promote blood circulation, remove swelling, alleviate pain, and improve tissue generation.
Fifthly, Angelica Root can help to relieve constipation caused by Blood Deficiency with intestinal Dryness. By tonifying blood and moistening Dryness, this herb can nourish intestines to smooth stools.
Modern studies have also found that Angelica Root may promote wound healing by encouraging the creation of new blood vessels. There is also some early evidence that suggests that Angelica Root can promote the healing of diabetic foot wounds.
Angelica Root may also provide protection against osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The herb may help to prevent further joint damage and decrease inflammation as well.
Last but not least, Angelica Root can also help to improve skin and reduce anxiety.
How to Use Chinese Angelica (Angelica Root)
Angelica Root is usually available in health food stores in the forms of dried herb, Angelica Acutiloba Root Extract, pills, powder, and other supplements. It can be used to make dishes such as Chinese Angelica Root Soup and bak kut teh too.
The recommended daily dosage of Angelica Root is 6-12g.
In TCM, it is believed that frying the herb in vinegar or wine can strengthen the herb’s blood–invigorating properties, and toasting the herb to ash can enhance its ability to warm the channels and stop bleeding.
One popular way to consume Angelica Root today is to use it to make herbal tea. Simply add one cup of boiling water to one teaspoon of dried Angelica Root and steep it for at least 10 minutes, and a cup of fragrant and healthy tea is ready!
Cautions and Side Effects of Chinese Angelica (Angelica Root)
Some common side effects of consuming Angelica Root include an increase in blood pressure and interacting with blood thinners such as warfarin to cause dangerous and potentially fatal bleeding in certain instances. Hence, if you are taking a blood thinner, do talk to your healthcare provider before you take any health products containing Angelica Root.
Also, individuals who are experiencing diarrhea, abdominal distention, indigestion or flatulence, caused by Dampness or Yin Deficiency with Heat signs should avoid consuming Angelica Root too.
Last but not least due to a lack of evidence regarding its safety for pregnant and breastfeeding women, individuals who are preparing for pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid consuming this herb too.
Here is a summary for Chinese Angelica:
- Herb name (Chinese): 当归
- Herb name (Pin Yin): dāng guī
- Herb name (English): Chinese Angelica
- Herb name (Botanical): Radix Angelicae Sinensis
- Origin of species: Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels
- Part(s) of herb used: Root
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Gansu, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Hubei
- Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet, pungent; Warm; Administrates the Liver, Heart and Spleen meridians
- Actions: Relieves anaemic symptoms; Helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and eases menstrual pain; Also eases other kinds of pain, such as pain experienced in cold limbs or pain resulting from physical injuries due to poor blood circulation.
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Zhao, K. J., Dong, T. T., Tu, P. F., Song, Z. H., Lo, C. K., & Tsim, K. W. (2003). Molecular genetic and chemical assessment of radix Angelica (Danggui) in China. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 51(9), 2576-2583.[Accessed on 26th September 2022]
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