Angelica root health benefit and research
May 17 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Angelica pubescens root - Du Huo - has historically been used in Chinese herbal medicine to treat arthritis, headache, and stasis of blood. Angelica contains osthole, which may inhibit platelet aggregation and thromboxane formation, and also has blood vessel dilating properties.

What's in angelica root, what are the ingredients?
A number of compounds are present in this plant, including columbianetin, columbianetin acetate, osthol or osthole, isoangelol, anpubesol and other coumarins.

Angelica pubescens potential benefit
This plant appears to interfere with 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) and cyclooxygenase (COX-1) activity in vitro. Compounds within Angelica pubescens have anti-inflammatory activity.

Review and summary
Angelica pubescens is used in the Orient for its calming effects. In the US, some libido-enhancing products include Angelica pubescens in their formulation, however I have not come across research regarding the aphrodisiac properties of angelica pubescens.
See a Medical Doctor Formulated Sexual Enhancement Pills.

Research, anti inflammatory
Influence of traditional Chinese anti-inflammatory medicinal plants on leukocyte and platelet functions.
Journal Pharm Pharmacology. 2003.
The enzymes 5-lipoxygenase and elastase are therapeutic targets in dermatological disorders such as psoriasis. Fifteen extracts from traditional Chinese medicinal plants used to treat topical inflammations were screened for their inhibitory effect on lipoxygenase, cyclooxygenase and elastase activity in intact leukocytes and platelets. Astragalus membranaceus, Forsythia suspensa and Poria cocos inhibited 5-lipoxygenase. The latter two species, along with Angelica dahurica and Angelica pubescens, also inhibited elastase, while Angelica pubescens, Atractylodes macrocephala, Lentinus edodes, Rehmannia glutinosa and Paeonia lactiflora selectively inhibited 12-(S)-HHTrE production, a valid marker of cyclooxygenase activity. The inhibition of phospholipase A(2) activity by Poria cocos is discussed. Dehydrotumulosic and pachymic acids, which have been isolated from Poria cocos, were shown to inhibit leukotriene B(4) release. The results indicate that both Poria cocos and Forsythia suspensa are potentially valuable species in the management of skin pathologies involving chronic inflammation.

Inhibitory effects of Angelica pubescens f. biserrata on 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase.
Planta Med. 1998.
Linoleic acid, osthol, osthenol and two polyacetylenes, falcarindiol were found to be the most active compounds responsible for the inhibitory activity of the dichloromethane extract of the roots of Angelica pubescens on 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) and cyclooxygenase (COX-1) in vitro.

Antiproliferative effect in rat vascular smooth muscle cells by osthole, isolated from Angelica pubescens.
Eur J Pharmacology. 1996.
The antiproliferative effect of osthole on rat vascular smooth muscle cells was examined in this study. These results suggest that osthole is a selective antiproliferative agent in vascular smooth muscle cells.

Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities from roots of Angelica pubescens.
Planta Med. 1995.
In the present study, we extracted Angelica pubescens with various solvents in order to find the bioactive constituents that demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. The results were obtained as follows: Methanol-, chloroform-, and ethyl acetate-extracts effectively reduced the pain that was induced by 1% acetic acid and a hot plate. Methanol-, chloroform-, and ethyl acetate-extracts reduced the edema that was induced by 3% formalin or 1.5% carrageenan. Sixteen compounds have been isolated and identified from the roots of Angelica pubescens. Among these compounds, columbianadin, columbianetin acetate, bergapten, umbelliferone, and caffeic acid significantly demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities at 10 mg/kg. However, only osthole and xanthotoxin revealed anti-inflammatory activity. Isoimperatorin only demonstrated an analgesic effect. These results revealed that the anti-inflammatory and analgesic constituents were related to peripheral inhibition of inflammatory substances and to the influence on the central nervous system.

The relaxant action of osthole isolated from Angelica pubescens in guinea-pig trachea.
Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 1994.
The effect of osthole, isolated from Angelica pubescens, on the contraction of guinea-pig trachea was studied. Osthole, theophylline and higher concentrations of nifedipine suppressed the contraction response curves of tracheal smooth muscle caused by carbachol, prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGF2 alpha), U46619 (thromboxane A2 analogue) and leukotriene C4 (LTC4) in a concentration-dependent manner. Osthole enhanced the increase in tissue cAMP and cGMP levels induced by forskolin and sodium nitroprusside, respectively, and in higher concentrations, itself increased markedly tissue cAMP and cGMP contents. Osthole inhibited the activity of cAMP and cGMP phosphodiesterases in a concentration-dependent manner. It is concluded that osthole exerts a non-specific relaxant effect on the trachealis by inhibiting the cAMP and cGMP phosphodiesterases.

Angelica is a genus of about 50 species of tall biennial and perennial herbs that grow in the Northern Hemisphere.

Angelica ampla - Giant Angelica
Angelica bella
A breweri - Brewer's Angelica
dahurica - bai zhi in Chinese
genuflexa - Kneeling Angelica
A gigas - Cham dangwi in Korean
J Med Food. 2012. Ultrafine Angelica gigas powder normalizes ovarian hormone levels and has antiosteoporosis properties in ovariectomized rats: particle size effect. Department of Food Science and Technology, Sejong University, Seoul, Korea. The root of Angelica gigas (Korean angelica) is traditionally used to treat women's ailments that are caused by an impairment of menstrual blood flow and cycle irregularities.  Component substances, include decursin (the main substance), decursinol angelate, JH714 (ether form of decursin) and epoxide decursin.
A. keiskei -- Ashitaba in Japanese
A roseana - Rose Angelica
A sinensis - Dong quai
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2012. Research progress studies on pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of ligustilide. Key Laboratory of Separation Science for Analytical Chemistry, Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Science, Dalian, China. Ligustilide is contained highly or around 1% in such umbelliferous plants as Angelica sinensis and Ligusticum chuanxiong, is one of main bioactive constituents. It shows many pharmacological activities related to their efficacy. At present, ligustilide has attracted extensive attention and more and more studies have been reported, indicating that it is a promising compound. This essay summarizes the progress of pharmacological effects of ligustilide on neuroprotection, vasodilatation, anti-caner and anti-tumor, analgesia and anti-inflammation, and pharmacokinetics including absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion, providing basis for further studies and development of ligustilide.
A sylvestris - Wild
A tomentosa - Woolly
Angelica venosa - Hairy

Historical perspective
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2014. Herbal textual research on origin and development of traditional Chinese medicine "duhuo" and "qianghuo". To clarify the origin and development of the traditional Chinese medicine "Duhuo" and "Qianghuo" with medicinal literatures. Medical literatures of past dynasties were analysed and combined with the modern material. The "Duhuo" in Herbal writing Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing include traditional Chinese medicine "Duhuo" and "Qianghuo", "Qianghuo" was separated from "Duhuo" due to the distinguish of clinical application. The origin of "Qianghuo" is Notopterygium incisum and N. forbesii, However, The origin of "Duhuo" is very complex, Angelica pubescens f. biserrata as authentic "Duhuo" was used from Song Dynasty. "Qianghuo" was originated from "Duhuo".