Angelica Root: What Is It, and Is It Good for You?

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    Angelica root is a popular herbal supplement. It has many reported uses, despite having little scientific research about its effectiveness.

    Angelica describes a class of plants and herbs that’s popular in the traditional medicine of several Asian countries. There are many species of Angelica, and the roots of many of them have historically been used to create herbal medicines. Nowadays there’s a particular interest in a certain type of angelica root: When you hear someone mention “angelica root,” they are likely talking about Angelica sinensis (A. sinensis) or Angelica archangelica (A. archangelica). Compared to other angelica roots, A. sinensis has been the subject of the most studies. In this article, we’ll take a look at what some of the research has to say about angelica root – its origins, its benefits, and its potential dosage.

    What is angelica root?

    Angelica root (A. sinensis) – also known as dong quai – grows at high altitudes in China and other Asian countries and can grow up to 10 feet tall. It’s been used for centuries in Asian traditional medicine, particularly in China, Korea, and Japan. In addition to being a popular spice and tonic, it’s been used to support female reproductive health. It can be cooked with meat and soup and is often combined with other herbs. In Europe and North America, angelica root is available as a dietary supplement and is known by the name dong quai. However, the scientific evidence regarding angelica root treatments is limited.

    How is angelica root used?

    Angelica root can be used both as a food – cooked with meat, added to soup or tea, etc. – or added to other herbs. It’s also available as a tablet, capsule, extract, syrup, or tincture. In traditional Chinese medicine, products containing dong quai are often used to support female reproductive and hormonal health, including symptoms related to the menstrual cycle.

    Angelica root benefits

    Angelica root is sometimes used to support blood flow, cardiovascular health, and immune function. It may increase B cell formation, which can in turn lead to an increase in the body’s antibodies.

    When it comes to hormonal health, the research regarding angelica root’s benefits is mixed. One animal study found that angelica root supplements may help boost the circulation of estradiol, which is an estrogen steroid hormone. This suggests that angelica root could help support hormone production. However, two other studies found no significant changes in hormone levels from angelica root supplementation. The efficacy of angelica root supplementation may depend on the form and the bioavailability of the herb.

    One study found that angelica root may have wound-healing properties, though more research is still needed. An animal study found improved markers for bone health after angelica root supplementation, while another study found that angelica root supplementation can lead to improved joint and bone health.
    A very common use of angelica root is to treat symptoms of menopause; indeed, this is one angelica root’s main uses in traditional Chinese medicine. To date, however, much of the evidence for its effectiveness is anecdotal. The results of studies have been mixed. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study reported no significant positive changes for people experiencing symptoms of menopause. One study did find that angelica root may have serotonin-promoting properties, which may, in turn, help ease symptoms of hot flashes for people experiencing menopause.

    How to use angelica root

    You can purchase angelica root supplements in capsule or liquid extract form, and you can also find it dried as a tea. That’s all in addition to uses in food and other herbs.

    When it comes to dosage, there simply hasn’t been enough research to determine a proper or safe amount. The majority of root supplements available for purchase contain between 500 and 2,000 mg of angelica per serving.

    It’s important to talk to a medical professional before adding a new supplement to your routine. That’s especially true for largely untested supplements like angelica root. You should avoid the urge to self-treat any condition with angelica root.

    Possible side effects and precautions of taking angelica root

    To better assess the benefits and side effects of angelica root, much more research is needed. However, there are some known side effects to watch out for.

    Angelica root is known to interact negatively with certain medications, so be sure to talk to your doctor before adding this supplement to your routine. Some studies have shown that angelica root can interact negatively with blood thinning medications, with potentially dangerous consequences. If you’re taking a blood thinning medication, you should avoid taking angelica root unless otherwise advised by a doctor. Angelica root has also been shown to be associated with unwanted increases in blood pressure. It is also advisable to avoid angelica root while pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Final takeaways

    Angelica root is a popular herb that’s been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Despite being widely used, there isn’t much research to support its purported health benefits. However, there is some evidence to suggest that it can support your health in some ways. Be sure to talk to a medical professional before adding this supplement to your routine.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.