PMS can be a nightmare. Cramps, menstrual backache, irregular bleeding, loss of appetite, and bloating can make a few days every month unbearable. Many women, though, do not want to take medications such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen, and prefer more natural alternatives. The Chinese herb angelica (angelica archangelica, also called wild celery) is one such natural approach that has been used for thousands of years. It is a traditional herb that tackles even the toughest PMS symptoms, particularly cramps and backache.
Angelica is a hardy perennial that grows to about 5 feet tall when given a moist, shady growing environment. You will often see angelica growing along riverbanks and streams, although it does bear a resemblance to water hemlock , and extreme care should be exercised when wildharvesting.
The roots are best harvested in the autumn , while the leaves are best gathered in late spring or early summer. Since you can use both the leaves and the roots of the plant for herbal medicine purposes, this gives you quite a few months to make use of the angelica in your garden.
Once you have the angelica, you can make an infusion by putting 1 teaspoon of the dried herb into 8 ounces of boiling water, and steeping for 15 minutes. A decoction can be made by boiling a few teaspoons of root in 3 cups of water; boil for about 20-30 minutes. Both the infusion and decoction can be consumed 1-4 times daily.
If you would rather purchase angelica, Mountain Rose Herbs has a good selection of sizes, and good prices on their dried herbs. They are also offer a number of certified organic herbs, so they are my first choice when shopping for natural medicine. If you would prefer the convenience of a capsule or tincture, you can pick those up at many health food stores, or online at places like Amazon . When buying capsules or tincture, make sure to follow the directions on the packaging.
A few words of warning: Angelica contains coumarins, so use caution if you are taking blood thinners. Women who are pregnant should not take angelica, because it can cause a miscarriage. Women who are nursing should avoid angelica.
However, for menstruating women who are suffering from PMS or other irregularities (including endometriosis), angelica can be a treasure.
I am an herbalist, not a medical doctor, and the statements made in this article are not intended to diagnose or treat any health conditions. This is for informational purposes only.