Angelica Archangelica or Dong Quai What is it?



In Traditional Chinese Medicine angelica is known as Dang Gui or Dong Quai.  Its latin name is Archangelica officinalis.  No matter what name it is known by, this herb has a long history of use for protection, healing and culinary purposes. 


The angelica plant was thought to purify the blood and cure many illnesses including the flu.  It was believed that angelica was revealed by an angel as a cure for the plague.  Historically angelica bloomed on the day celebrating Archangel Michael which is why it was thought to protect against evil and spells. 


Some modern western uses for angelica include

  • Indigestion
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety

 According to angelica is used as a tonic and can strengthen the heart.  This has been its use for over 2,000 years in TCM. 

My experience with this herb comes from treating peri-menopause and menopause symptoms, PMS and cramps.  Since it is used to start a stopped period it should be avoided during pregnancy.  For men it can be used topically to treat premature ejaculation. 

Angelica has been used as an aphrodisiac in both European tradition and TCM.  Most consistently however, it is used to prevent hot flashes and menopausal symptoms.   

In addition to women’s issues lists some other actions of Angelica for

  • Strengthening the liver, spleen, heart and lungs
  • Sciatica
  • Shingles
  • Promoting sleep 

Culinary uses

When I was first researching Dong Quai many years ago pre-internet information availability, I of course discovered that it was called Angelica.  Once I discovered that I also found that it had been used for centuries as a culinary herb.

Angelica is extremely aromatic and can and has been used in perfumes.  The root can be crushed and used as tea, the stem can be used as a vegetable.  The most common use of Angelica has been to candy the stems and either eat them as candy or use them to decorate cakes.  Many sites recommend not throwing out the syrup you use to candy the stems since it will last a fairly long time in the fridge and can be used in various recipes that call for a sugar syrup. 

An interesting site for angelica uses is musings of a kitchen witch. 


Due to its ability to thin the blood Angelica/Dang Gui/Dong Quai should not be used if you are taking prescription blood thinners such as warfarin.  Some people experience photosensitivity (sun sensitivity) when using angelica. Angelica should be avoided during pregnancy since it can cause miscarriages. 

Angelica is one of those herbs that many people have seen at one point but have never actually heard of.  It has history in culinary uses, healing and magic.  When you find that combination you know that it has been around for a very long time.  When you look into its uses you can see why!