The Bitterness of Angelica
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The Bitterness of Angelica

Angelica  archangelic  root essential oil (EO) is a sip of single malt scotch, aged to perfection in a smoked-oak barrel. Bitter-sweet. A. archangelica seed EO is the aged wood of an old home. Bitter & sour. Both evoke a woody-earthy strength that penetrates deeply and are among few EOs with a purely bitter aroma. This bitterness and earthiness are important aspects of the distinct psycho-emotional affects of the A. archangelica   EOs.

There are three angelica species used in Chinese herbal medicine: Angelica sinensis (dong quai), A. dahurica (bai zhi), and A. pubescens (du huo). A. archangelica is the species used in aromatherapy. The aromas of these various angelicas are slightly different, but the feeling evoked by their bitter-earthy-pungency is similar no matter which one is encountered.     

The bitter aroma is rare in aesthetic & cosmetic aromatherapy because, alone, it does not appeal to these markets! The Angelicas are not pretty essential oils; hence one is not likely to even want to come to understand how to blend with them. The aromatic synergy of the bitter aroma is difficult to describe in words- it is a feeling. When just a smear (a pin head amount) of an Anjelica EO is placed in a blend they can transform it into something quite special. 

Use the seed (feminine) & root (masculine) in blends for their enhancing & personifying effect. This means they are the aromatic sparks that ignite the vitality of the blend. This may be so because bitterness aligns with the ministerial fire of the Heart in 5-Element tradition. In mysticism, the Heart chakra is the balancer and clears all chakras. In Ayurvedic tradition A. sinensis is pitta [fire], which balances the three doshas [water, fire & earth]. If a tiny bit of bitterness is overlooked, the Energetic Heart of the blend is missing! Another EO with a bitter aroma is spikenard, which is similar in energetics but has a slightly more likable aroma.    

The concepts of  fire, heart & pitta can be used in a type of psycho-emotional blending which aims to represent each of the 5 elements with its elemental EO. An example of practical application of 5-element blending is using the bitterness of A. archangelica to curb nicotine carving for Liver-type smokers. Fire is the son of wood; soothing the son relieves the mother. Ironically, an A. archangelica EO was found to be the most beneficial EO to curb anxiety in a smoking cession case study [i]. The rooty-sweet nature of Angelica root EO also curbs the type of angst caused water overacting on fire.    

In Chinese herbal medicine, Angelica ssp. is described as having a very deep & tough taproot that make them strong against the harsh elements of the Manchurian tundra. This always makes me reflect on an EO blend called Root by Aura Cacia, which contains Angelica EO as the main root EO. “ Standing tall in nature, angelica bursts with power and energy growing up to two meters tall. It has a thick main stem and strong root system, deeply embedded in the earth... Angelica is the EO of choice"[ii] when one needs:

  • to assert against the unacceptable
  • to reinforce ones vital force
  • centered & focused thought, sound & ethical reasoning
  • grounded discernment. 

An important metaphysical concept is that there has to be something positive ready to fill the void when purging something negative from existential time and space. If there is no healthy process ready to take over, then true psycho-spiritual healing can not occur. Angelica aligns the inner and outer sight- the Third Eye with the physical eyes- for this new state of perception and insight [iii]. What Angelica contributes to the psycho-spiritual healing process is its Latin binomial name— the divine intervention of an Arch AngelA. archangelica is also know as Holy Ghost with the religious legend of archangel Michael preaching its healing value.

An archangel ultimately reveals people, places, healers, medicines etc. that are needed at a particular phase of a healing process. These divine encounters slowly restructure a strong & stable root upon which to replace old emotional patterns & perspectives. It is said that Angelica is the EO to use during psychotherapy. When one is going through psycho-emotional transformation, one is vulnerable to outside influences from others; and vulnerable to influencing others. An archangel protects both parties

It is also said that Angelica root EO guides one to the root issues that will help un-tether neurosis. Carolyn L. Mein DC suggests applying an Angelica EO to acupuncture points/ emotional alarm points for the loneliness, isolation, shame, guilt, support & resolution associated with psycho-emotional issues[iv]. While the seed’s energy focuses on the 5 chakra of self-expression. The root & seed perhaps balancing each other and are best used together. The root grounding the effect of the seed; the seed giving healthy expression to the effect of the root. Angelica encourages you to stand your ground, to assert and to express your truth with confidence” [ii].    

Angelica EO are inherently non-toxic in proper dosage and application. There is a standard cautions & considerations for A. archangelica root EO. It has photosentitizing properties, not to be used within 6-12 hours of direct or indirect sun-exposure. The A. archangelica seed EO is not photo-sensitizing. I think that Angelica’s power to deeply support the psyche is also a consideration. Fore it may be unrelentingly and tenacious, like its tough tap root. 

Once one has anointed with expect to start seeing life from a different perspective. This may be complemented by Spiknard/Jatamansi EO (ironically the other bitter EO) which is also said to heal & release old emotional traumas, and unwind painful thought forms & memories [iii]. Or Vetiver root, which works on untangling b emotional lockages in the 2nd chakra [iii]. I enjoy a perfume EO blend of ylang ylang, begamot, bitter orange, vetiver with a tiny bit of Angelica.

Integrative  Medicine Tip: Scholes say that EOs should be used in 1% or less dilution for psycho-emotional benefit (higher dilutions are for physical complaints). This is similar to the classical homeopathic "drop" dilution, but different in that Homeobotanical remedies" are potentized so that both the homeopathic AND physical benefits of an herbal are accessible for healing, at a vibrational level just outside the physical body called the etheric body... By affecting the energy field, the herbal energy supports the body so it can return to balance and health [v]. 

I have recently come to value anointing the etheric body with an EOs sprtiz (e.g. only 1 drop of EO  in 8oz or more of purified water), then shaken (to potentized). I imaging there are many sensations associated with healing at the etheric body level. What I have experienced is a sudden fine vibration (like a cats purr, or even an earth tremor) that feels like it originates outside the body but eventually is inside the body. The vibration focuses on a particular area (chakras) and sends vibrations out along a trajectory (like an acupuncture meridian). There may be pain as congestion is shaken loose, and a freshened feeling afterwards in that area; and the spirit feels freer.

* Check your sources for cautions & considerations, and route & dosing before using EOs. Especially during pregancy; on small children & infants; the elderly & weak; and those with epilepsy & neuro-muscular diseases.

[i] Buckle, J. (2003). Clinical aromatherapy; essential oils in practice (2nd. ed). New York, NY:
     Complementary Health Therapies Consultants.    
[ii] Zeck, R. (2008). The blossoming heart: Aromatherapy for healing and transformation. 
[iii] Earth Angel. Single oils; Energetics [A-Z]. Retrieved from
[iv] Mein, Carolyn. (1998). Releasing emotional patterns with essential oils. California: Visionware
[v] Silver, V. (2014). Dynamical herbal energy and homeobotanical remedies. Retrieved

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