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SUPPLEMENTS - BOTANICALS - ANGELICA OR MASTERWORT
One of many plants of the Umbelliferae family, Angelica grows wild wet places. It has a tall hollow stem, out of which boys once liked to make pipes. It is purple, furrowed, and downy, bearing white flowers tinged with pink. But, the herb is not useful as a remedy until cultivated. The larger variety Archangelica, being chosen for this.
"Angelica, the happy counterbane,
Angelica, or Masterwort, came to be used in herbal remedies in England shortly after the middle of the 16th century.
Sent down from heaven by some celestial scout,
As well its name and nature both avow't."
At that time, the aromatic stems were grown abundantly near London in moist fields for the use of confectioners. These stems, when candied, were sold as a favorite sweetmeat.
These sweets were taken for a feeble stomach, and appeared to relieve flatulence promptly.
The roots of the garden Angelica contain quantities of a peculiar resin known as "angelicin," which is used to stimulate the lungs, and to the skin. They smell pleasantly of musk, being an excellent tonic and is used to prevent the formation of gas in the digestive system.
An infusion of Angelica is made by pouring a pint of boiling water on an ounce of the bruised root. Two tablespoons of this should be taken three or four times a day. Alternatively, the powdered root may be taken in doses of from ten to thirty grains.
Angelica, when taken in either form, is said to cause a dislike for alcoholic beverages. In the high Dutch, it is called the root of the Holy Ghost.
The fruit of the Angelica plant is employed for flavoring some cordials, notably Chartreuse. If an incision is made in the bark of the stems, and the crown of the root, at the onset of spring, the result is a resinous gum with a special aromatic flavour as of musk, or benzoin, a camphor-like substance, for either of which it can be substituted.
Herbalist John Gerard (1545–1612), said: "If you do but take a piece of the root, and hold it in your mouth, or chew the same between your teeth, it doth most certainly drive away pestilent aire."
Natives of Iceland eat both the stem and the roots raw with butter.
These parts of the plant, if cut, produce a yellow juice which becomes, when dried, a valuable natural remedy beneficial in the treatment of chronic rheumatism and gout.
Among herbal myths and legends, is one that the Archangelica was revealed in a dream by an angel to cure the plague; others believe that it blooms on the day of Michael the Archangel, and is therefore a protection against evil spirits and witchcraft.