Recently in a class on essential oil safety, the oil of Angelica root came up in discussion. Its safety issue is phototoxicity, which means that irritation can occur when skin with an application of the oil is exposed to UV light. Phototoxicity is an important consideration as we move into summer and our skin may receive larger amounts of sun exposure. This doesn’t mean that we have to avoid phototoxic essential oils or the sun, we just have to take precautions when applying these types of oils. With that said, let’s take a further look at Angelica.
The essential oil from this plant is most commonly a steam distillation of the roots, and it has a strong woody and spicy scent. When smelled from the bottle it may seem unusual, but it has a long history of use as a middle to base note in perfumery where its odor profile adds a musky spiciness to a blend. The therapeutics of the oil can additionally make a perfume feel warming and stimulating and give it a grounded depth.
Per Aromaweb, “Angelica Root Oil may help fight infections, stimulate the immune system and help motivate the elimination of toxins.” It appears that these actions are especially useful for the respiratory system, so inhaling the oil may help those with asthma and sinus problems.
Angelica essential oil is often used in cases of chronic stress and anxiety, especially when accompanied by fatigue and low stamina. In these instances, diffusing the oil is a good method to use as well as massage with a blend including Angelica, Spruce (Picea mariana) and Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis).
Traditionally, the herb was used in rituals and purification ceremonies to protect against contagion. It was burned during the Black Plague in Europe to halt the spread of the disease. Since the Middle Ages, the herb of Angelica has been viewed as a health tonic. It has been used since that time to flavor Benedictine, which “evolved from a bitter medicine formulated by French monks into a fancy-schmantzy after-dinner liqueur.” The monks understood that Angelica could keep us healthy, and even today we acknowledge that the herb and the essential oil are strongly beneficial for healing.