Angelica Root: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Overall, there’s very little scientific evidence regarding the benefits of angelica root — neither A. sinensis nor A. archangelica.

A. sinensis benefits

It’s thought that most of the potential benefits of A. sinensis come from ligustilide, a powerful compound that comprises approximately 1% of the plant and provides much of its strong fragrance (1, 3, 4).

Anticancer properties

In animal and test-tube studies, A. sinensis extract kills glioblastoma cells, which is a form of aggressive brain cancer (5, 6).

However, this does not mean that taking an angelica root supplement can kill brain cancer in humans. In fact, this is unlikely, and much more research in humans is needed before A. sinensis can be considered a potential cancer treatment.

Although these findings are a promising starting point for future research, you should follow the advice of your healthcare team if you have cancer.

Wound healing

A. sinensis may promote wound healing by encouraging angiogenesis, or the creation of new blood vessels (7, 8).

There’s also some early evidence that it can specifically promote the healing of diabetic foot wounds. These can be more severe and slower to heal than other wounds due to the blood vessel and tissue damage that high blood sugar levels cause (9).

Relief of menopausal hot flashes

One of the most common uses of A. sinensis, especially in traditional Chinese medicine, is the management of menopausal symptoms and other female hormonal issues (10).

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Complementary therapies are also growing in popularity, as more people seek out natural options for menopause symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats (11).

Some evidence suggests that decreasing levels of serotonin in the body can contribute to menopausal hot flashes, and angelica root may help maintain or increase circulating levels of serotonin — thereby reducing the severity and frequency of hot flashes (12).

Still, there’s very little high quality evidence to support the use of A. sinensis for menopause symptoms, nor any long-term evidence of its safety in menopausal women (13, 14).

Arthritis relief

A. sinensis may provide protection against both osteoarthritis, or joint “wear and tear,” as well as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an inflammatory, autoimmune condition of the joints.

Supplementing with A. sinensis may decrease inflammation, prevent further joint damage, and promote cartilage repair in osteoarthritis (15).

Regarding RA, A. sinensis may decrease the inflammatory response, reducing pain and improving some of its other symptoms (16).

However, these studies were conducted in test-tube and animal models, so more research is needed.

A. archangelica benefits

A. archangelica may also offer some benefits, but little research has been done on this herb. Additionally, most of the existing research was conducted in test-tube and animal studies, which can only serve as promising starting points for future human studies.

Anticancer properties

In test-tube and animal studies, A. archangelica — like A. sinensis — shows some promising anticancer and anti-tumor effects.

For example, it has been found to kill breast cancer cells in test tubes and inhibit tumor growth in mice. It may have similar effects on cervical cancer, larynx cancer, and rhabdomyosarcoma cells (17, 18, 19).

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These effects are thought to come from angelicin and imperatorin, two powerful phytochemicals found in A. archangelica (17, 18, 19).

However, this research is insufficient to prove that A. archangelica can provide anticancer or anti-tumor benefits in humans. More studies are needed. You should follow the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare team if you have cancer.

Antimicrobial effects

A. archangelica may also kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

In test-tube studies, A. archangelica essential oil can kill disease-causing bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (20).

A. archangelica extract and some isolated compounds from it, including imperatorin, also exhibit antiviral activity against the herpes simplex (cold sore) virus and coxsackievirus, which causes digestive illness (21).

A. archangelica essential oil also shows promise as a potential food-safe preservative to inhibit mold growth, as it can kill mold that grows on walnuts (22).

Anti-anxiety effects

Finally, there’s some compelling evidence from animal studies that A. archangelica may help reduce anxiety.

Three rat studies noted that A. archangelica extract induced relaxation and decreased anxious behaviors in the animals (23, 24, 25).

However, these studies haven’t been replicated in humans, so it’s difficult to know whether it’d exert the same effects in people. Human studies are needed.


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About the Author: Tung Chi