Angelica has a number of names, but the one that grows commonly in Europe is Angelica sylvestris and Angelica archangelic. It is believed that it originated in Syria but spread to cooler climes where it flourished in Finland, Iceland and Greenland. There are over thirty varieties of angelica but the one that is recognized for its medicinal qualities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria is archangelic. There are many stories surrounding its name but it certainly was used in pagan festivals, as there is a festival in parts of Germany when villagers go into towns carrying angelica stems and singing in a long-forgotten language words learned in childhood, but not understood even by the singers any more. After the adoption of Christianity in Europe it was associated with the archangel Michael as it blooms on his day, May 8th in the old calendar.
Because of its association with the archangel it was also believed to be associated with the Annunciation when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary and told her that she was pregnant. One legend says that an archangel revealed in someone’s dream that angelica was a cure for the plague. Because of these holy associations it was believed that it would rid places of evil spirits and protect against witchcraft and evil enchantments. The Iroquois in North America used it to wash their dwellings to cleanse them of ghosts and other malignant spirits, and the leaves have been burned in some exorcism rites. In some places it was known as “the Root of the Holy Ghost.” If you grow it in the garden it will protect your house from evil. You could make a necklace from the leaves or carry a root in your pocket to ward off evil spells and for general protection against malignancy.
The roots are fragrant and both dried leaves and roots can be used in pot pourris. It will also give a good yellow dye. The roots, seeds and leaves are used in folk and traditional medicines to cure just about everything. It’s said to be good for coughs and colds and to get rid of phlegm and lung congestion- in other words it’s a good expectorant. The stems are trimmed and candied and used in breads and cakes for garnish- angelica is the candied green confectionary so often seen on cakes. Angelica tastes vaguely of juniper berries and is sometimes combined with them in the making of gin. The stems can be used in jam to add flavour to other fruit, and in ‘confitures’. The seeds are used in Vermouth and Chartreuse. The tender young stalks can be used in salads instead of celery stalks. The chopped leaves can also be used in salads, and they neutralize the acidity of rhubarb if cooked with it. Some people in Northern Europe chew the raw stalks and think of them as a delicacy.
nutmeg, treacle and angelica water beaten together and boiled over a fire. Chinese angelica, or Angelica sinensis is used for stimulating the uterus muscles and it dilates blood vessels so is supposed to be good for a man’s erections and a woman’s vaginal lubrication. Infusions are to be taken two to five times a day and these help unblock blood flow during a woman’s periods and stop stomach cramps and Pre-Menstrual Tension.
The roots should be dried rapidly and then stored in airtight containers, so that they will retain their medicinal properties for years. The root stalk and leaves are carminative, stimulant, diaphoretic and are good for the digestive system. Using the tisane as a face wash will prevent acne, it is said, but use 1 pint of boiling water to 150 grams of fresh bruised root. Make the tisane with 1 pint of boiling water poured over 30 grams of the bruised root. Steep for 20 -30 minutes, strain and take 2 tablespoons 3 or 4 times a day to relieve just about anything. It’s supposed to be good for chronic bronchitis, and fevers. As it has stimulant properties and is a tonic it may also act as an aphrodisiac in that it will increase the libido. You can also make an infusion with the powdered root. On the mainland Europe this recipe was used as a remedy for typhus fever:-2 pints of boiling water poured over150 grams of the bruised root.120 grams of honey, the juice of 2 large lemons and 1 glass of brandy, left to steep for 30 minutes. Infusions made from the leaves are a tonic and generally beneficial, if used over a period of time. The effects will be felt after a few days. You can gargle with the root infusion, or that of the leaves to relieve sore throats and mouths. Chew the leaves for relief from indigestion and flatulence.
John Gerard said that it was good for “the bitings of mad dogs and all other venomous beasts.” Poultices of the pounded leaves can be put over the lungs and chest to ease congestion. The powdered root can cure athlete’s foot and act as an insecticide and pesticide. To help stop cystitis, you will need 1 tablespoon of the dried root powder to 1 cup of boiling water and steep for 15-20 minutes.
It is a cure-all, but pregnant women shouldn’t take it in large quantities, and as always it’s best to consult a doctor before taking natural medicine if you have a pre-existing medical condition as some herbs react badly with pharmaceuticals.
1 kilo Angelica stems
¾ kilo sugar
Cut the stems into 4 inch strips and blanch in boiling water for 10 minutes or until soft.
Drain and soak the stems in cold water for 12 hours.
Make the sugar into a syrup with a little water, then add the angelica. Cook until it’s soft and the liquid coats a metal spoon. Remove from the heat and put into jars as you would any other jam.
This has Taste and is a Treat.