Angelica, from the plant Angelica archangelica, is similar to the Chinese herb Dong Quai, which is derived from the closely related plant Angelica sinensis. Other species of angelica are commonly used as flavoring agents for wines, liqueurs, and perfumes.
Angelica has recently become a very popular herb in the United States, and is often recommended by herbalists as a treatment for flatulence and stomach pains, and as a stimulant to invigorate circulation and warm the body. By far the most common use of Angelica is as an emmanagogic agent to promote menstrual flow and help regulate irregular menstrual cycles. In some cases large doses have been consumed in an attempt to induce abortion, but such use runs the risk of inducing severe poisoning.
Angelica contains a number of compounds called furocoumarins that are photosensitizers, which upon direct contact with the skin may lead to a skin rash after being exposed to the sun. Researchers have also found several of these compounds to be extremely toxic carcinogens in laboratory animals, though no human studies are currently available.
Angelica should not be used by pregnant women or diabetics, as it has a tendency to elevate blood sugar levels.