Angelica sinensis (also known as Dong quai) is native to Finland, Scandinavia, Iceland, Russia and neighboring areas. Its rich history includes use by the Vikings who used it medicinally and even as a form of currency at one point. It is proposed that the Vikings brought this potent herb to central Europe during the 10th century. By the 15th century it was included in the medicinal texts of European herbalists. It also was used as an emergency food source by the Icelanders during times of famine. Angelica contains many active phytochemicals including therapeutic compounds such as alpha-pinene and coumarin, as well as carbohydrates, vitamins A and E, B vitamins, calcium, chromium, cobalt, glucose, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, protein, selenium, silicon and zinc.
The famous alchemist and doctor Paracelsus also regarded angelica as a "marvelous medicine" for curing the plague. Paracelsus lived during the first half of the 1500s, during the time plague was prevalent. Angelica was highly praised by the medicine men and writers of the "old guard" for its use against the plague and its reputation was strong throughout all of the Northern European countries. The focus of praise revolves around its believed strength as a blood purifier, protector against contagions and treating many infectious conditions.
Today, angelica is commonly used as a mild sedative, diuretic, laxative, pain reliever and to reduce muscle spasms. Angelica helps to improve quality of the blood, strengthen the reproductive system, benefit hormone regulation, and help with "female problems" such as hot flashes, PMS, menopause symptoms, and vaginal dryness. *