Why is Angelica Root in our Silken Feet™, Soothing Foot Balm?
In my personal experience, among all of the essential oils derived from roots and rhyzomes, essential oil of Angelica Root is my favorite (more about this later). Roots in general are so very interesting, lending depth of flavor, spice and medicinal benefit to teas, liquors, soups and culinary dishes around the world.
What’s an example of a root I’d know? Carrots, and ginger. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been used in cooking and as an herbal medicine for over 5,000 years in Asia and has long been used in China, Indian and Arabic herbal traditions1.
Why is Angelica Root (Latin Name: Angelica archangelica) so special? Roots are special in general, but Angelica? With a name like that; Angelica archangelica, what’s not to understand? Lore can be found online that Angelica Root gets its name from the story that “the archangel Michael told the 14th century Italian botanist Matthaeus Sylvaticus of angelica’s medicinal capacities. Three centuries later the English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper wrote that ‘some called this an herb of the Holy Ghost, others called it Angelica, because of its ‘angelical virtues’.”2
Can I plant it? Yes. You can plant it, but it seems to like colder climates. You may also have heard it called garden angelica, wild celery, or Norwegian angelica. It’s a biennial plant (meaning it takes two years for the plant to go through its life cycle to develop and “bolt”, producing flowers and seeds). It’s from the Apiaceae family, a subspecies cultivated for its edible stems and roots, but it is also distilled into essential oils, studied for use in pharmacology and used in creating aroma in gin and perfume, as well as, adding therapeutic benefit to self-care products. Our essential oil of Angelica Root, Angelica archangelica L., comes from England and is steam distilled.
How does it work chemically? Wikipedia states: “The essential oil content of angelica root varies based on the age of the roots. Generally, the roots have high levels of terpenes, including ?-pinene and ?-phellandrene. Studies have found upwards of over eighty different aroma compounds present in samples. Of particular interest to perfumers and aroma chemists is cyclopentadecanolide, which although present in small quantities (< 1% in roots, <.5% in seeds), gives angelica root a distinctive musky aroma. The roots are generally preferred for culinary and aroma uses.”3
Angelica root is chemically complex. It features “monoterpene hydrocarbons, sesquiterpenes hydrocarbons, monoterpene alcohols, oxygenated sesquiterpenes, esters, lactones, aliphatic carbonyl compounds and aromatics.”4 Both the seeds and roots contain coumarins and furocoumarins. Coumarin (/?ku?m?r?n/) or 2H-chromen-2-one is an aromatic organic chemical compound with formula C9H6O2.5 Which is why we put it in Silken Feet.
According to the results outlined in the abstract “Chemical Composition and Antibacterial Activity of Angelica archangelica Root Essential Oil”, “…angelica root essential oil can be applied as a natural preservative in food and as a natural antibiotic for the treatment of several infectious diseases caused by… two bacteria.”6 Another abstract shows angelicin (a coumarin), a constituent of the roots and leaves, is being studied to treat breast cancer, increasing “Bax protein levels accompanied by decreased Bcl-2 expression, in the presence of cleaved caspase-3 and cytosolic calcium mobilization, suggesting mitochondrial involvement in breast cancer cell death induced by the CEAA in this cell line.”7
So, after all of that academic analysis, what does this complex assembly smell like? The fragrance of Angelica root alone is at once poignantly riveting and grounding, immediately reconnecting you with Mother Earth, our nurturing planet. What better root to put in our foot product? For me, the essential oil of Angelica root has a sweet and sharp, slightly dill-like fragrance, reminding me of fresh Kosher dill pickles, my go to “comfort food”. Now you might ask why would I choose to add that experience to a product for the feet? This is because when added, with care, to a blend of essential oils, Angelica Root is aromatically transforming. While it immerses you in rooted earthiness, in our Silken Feet salve, Angelica softens the peppermint note and complements the scents of chamomile and spike lavender to help create our unique and paradoxically uplifting fragrance.
To sum it up, my investigation has revealed some fascinating tidbits of info to me. Angelica root is a complex, powerful chameleon. It has important and scientifically quantified functional properties that it couples with the profound emotional/spiritual effects of this beautiful and flexible fragrance. I can recommend it highly for all of my readers to experiment with it on your personal aromatherapy journey and, of course, try out our soothing foot balm to find out why it has been such an important part of our Silken Feet formulation.
These are the cited studies:
- “Ginger” Mount Sinai Health Library. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/ginger
- “The story of Angelica Root, An underground sensation from Greenland”, Sir Edmond, Bourbon Vanilla Infused Gin. https://www.siredmondgin.com/the-story-of-angelica-root/
- “Angelica archangelica”, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelica_archangelica
- “Chemical composition of angelic root oil”, J Taskinen et al. Acta Chem Scand B. 1975. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1189848/
- “Coumarin”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coumarin
- “Chemical Composition and Antibacterial Activity of Angelica archangelica Root Essential Oil”, Milica G A?imovi?, Snežana ? Pavlovi?, Ana O Varga, Vladimir M Filipovi?, Mirjana T Cvetkovi?, Jovana M Stankovi?, Ivana S ?abarkapa 2017 Feb;12(2):205-206. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30428212/
- “Medicinal properties of Angelica archangelica root extract: Cytotoxicity in breast cancer cells and its protective effects against in vivo tumor development”, Carlos R Oliveira, Daniel G Spindola, Daniel M Garcia, Adolfo Erustes, Alexandre Bechara, Caroline Palmeira-Dos-Santos, Soraya S Smaili, Gustavo J S Pereira, André Hinsberger, Ezequiel P Viriato, Maria Cristina Marcucci, Alexandra C H F Sawaya, Samantha L Tomaz, Elaine G Rodrigues, Claudia Bincoletto, Epub 2019 Feb 8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30799248/