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Significant and Safe Pain Relief with Korean Angelica

July 2007

By Christie C. Yerby, ND

Other Benefits of Korean Angelica

Cancer Protection

Like many other natural therapies, Korean Angelica may offer numerous benefits for human health. Cancer researchers are turning their attention to this promising botanical remedy, as studies show that Korean Angelica may help inhibit tumor growth and metastasis while increasing the rates of programmed cell death in leukemia, melanoma, and prostate cancers.6-11 While much remains to be learned about Korean Angelica’s benefits for cancer protection, it seems likely that the herbal extract’s effects are linked with its ability to modulate inflammation—a contributor to cancer and many other chronic diseases.

Averting Alzheimer’s Disease

The benefits of Korean Angelica may extend beyond fighting pain and guarding against cancer to protecting the brain and nervous system against age-associated disease and decline. Studies suggest that compounds derived from Korean Angelica may protect the delicate brain from a variety of damaging factors, and may even mitigate susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease.12,13

Evidence suggests that Korean Angelica prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter involved in healthy memory function.14,15 This mechanism is shared by several pharmaceuticals such as Aricept® that are commonly used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, Korean Angelica helps protect against memory impairment induced by amyloid-beta, damaging plaques seen in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.12-16

These exciting studies strongly suggest that Korean Angelica may one day find applications in the prevention and management of Alzheimer’s disease. Further research may illuminate the effects of Korean Angelica in preserving healthy cognitive function with aging.

Korean Angelica: What You Need to Know
Korean Angelica
(Angelica gigas Nakai)
  • One of the most common reasons that people seek medical care is pain. Acute and chronic pain can dramatically decrease quality of life and the ability to participate in work and recreational activities.

  • Long used as a traditional herbal therapy, Korean Angelica may offer a safe, effective solution for those seeking pain relief.

  • A specialized extract of Korean Angelica called Decursinol-50™ has been found to relieve discomfort through effects on the central nervous system.

  • In adults with pain that failed to respond to other oral pain relievers, the combination of Korean Angelica and physical therapy was superior to physical therapy alone in relieving pain.

  • Other potential benefits of Korean Angelica include cancer prevention and neuroprotection.

Dosing and Safety

The recommended dose of the specialized Korean Angelica formulation called Decursinol-50™ is 250 mg, once or twice daily as needed. Some individuals find it helpful to begin with the larger dose of 500 mg daily to aggressively manage pain, and are able to later reduce their daily dose to 250 mg as their pain subsides.

Angelica plants are natural source of sweet-smelling phytochemicals called coumarins.17,18 Like their chemical cousin warfarin (Coumadin®), coumarins inhibit platelet aggregation, and may thus help prevent blood clots.17-19 Individuals who use medications that inhibit platelet aggregation such as warfarin (Coumadin®) should consult a physician before using Korean Angelica.20


An estimated 21 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. Many more are plagued with other forms of chronic pain, and even more are suffering from acute pain syndromes. Unfortunately, there is very little safe help available through pharmaceutical resources. The science of phytochemisty may be our best source of relief, as it brings us centuries of anecdotal evidence, and more recently, documented clinical results of the pain-relieving benefits of Korean Angelica.

  1. Choi SS, Han KJ, Lee JK, et al. Antinociceptive mechanisms of orally administered decursinol in the mouse. Life Sci. 2003 Jun 13;73(4):471-85.
  2. Choi SS, Han KJ, Lee HK, Han EJ, Suh HW. Antinociceptive profiles of crude extract from roots of Angelica gigas NAKAI in various pain models. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003 Sep;26(9):1283-8.
  3. Kim JH, Jeong JH, Jeon ST, et al. Decursin inhibits induction of inflammatory mediators by blocking nuclear factor-kappaB activation in macrophages. Mol Pharmacol. 2006 Jun;69(6):1783-90.
  4. Lee JH, Jung HS, Giang PM, et al. Blockade of nuclear factor-kappaB signaling pathway and anti-inflammatory activity of cardamomin, a chalcone analog from Alpinia conchigera. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2006 Jan;316(1):271-8.
  5. Chun YS. Clinical study of GWB78 as a pain-killer with chronic degenerative joint arthritis and cervicoomobrachial syndrome patients. Mapo Pain Clinic, Seoul, South Korea. 2001 Nov. Unpublished study sponsored by Scigenics, Co., Ltd.
  6. Kim HH, Ahn KS, Han H, et al. Decursin and PDBu: two PKC activators distinctively acting in the megakaryocytic differentiation of K562 human erythroleukemia cells. Leuk Res. 2005 Dec;29(12):1407-13.
  7. Yim D, Singh RP, Agarwal C, et al. A novel anticancer agent, decursin, induces G1 arrest and apoptosis in human prostate carcinoma cells. Cancer Res. 2005 Feb 1;65(3):1035-44.
  8. Guo J, Jiang C, Wang Z, et al. A novel class of pyranocoumarin anti-androgen receptor signaling compounds. Mol Cancer Ther. 2007 Mar;6(3):907-17.
  9. Jiang C, Lee HJ, Li GX, et al. Potent antiandrogen and androgen receptor activities of an Angelica gigas-containing herbal formulation: identification of decursin as a novel and active compound with implications for prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. Cancer Res. 2006 Jan 1;66(1):453-63.
  10. Han SB, Lee CW, Kang MR, et al. Pectic polysaccharide isolated from Angelica gigas Nakai inhibits melanoma cell metastasis and growth by directly preventing cell adhesion and activating host immune functions. Cancer Lett. 2006 Nov 18;243(2):264-73.
  11. Kim HH, Sik BS, Seok CJ, Han H, Kim IH. Involvement of PKC and ROS in the cytotoxic mechanism of anti-leukemic decursin and its derivatives and their structure-activity relationship in human K562 erythroleukemia and U937 myeloleukemia cells. Cancer Lett. 2005 Jun 8;223(2):191-201.
  12. Yan JJ, Kim DH, Moon YS, et al. Protection against beta-amyloid peptide-induced memory impairment with long-term administration of extract of Angelica gigas or decursinol in mice. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Jan;28(1):25-30.
  13. Kang SY, Lee KY, Sung SH, Kim YC. Four new neuroprotective dihydropyranocoumarins from Angelica gigas. J Nat.Prod. 2005 Jan;68(1):56-9.
  14. Kang SY, Lee KY, Park MJ, et al. Decursin from Angelica gigas mitigates amnesia induced by scopolamine in mice. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2003 Jan;79(1):11-8.
  15. Kang SY, Lee KY, Sung SH, Park MJ, Kim YC. Coumarins isolated from Angelica gigas inhibit acetylcholinesterase: structure-activity relationships. J Nat Prod. 2001 May;64(5):683-5.
  16. Kang SY, Lee KY, Koo KA, et al. ESP-102, a standardized combined extract of Angelica gigas, Saururus chinensis and Schizandra chinensis, significantly improved scopolamine-induced memory impairment in mice. Life Sci. 2005 Feb 25;76(15):1691-705.
  17. Sarker SD, Nahar L. Natural medicine: the genus Angelica. Curr Med Chem. 2004 Jun;11(11):1479-500.
  18. Available at: Accessed April 27, 2007.
  19. Lee YY, Lee S, Jin JL, Yun-Choi HS. Platelet anti-aggregatory effects of coumarins from the roots of Angelica genuflexa and A. gigas. Arch Pharm Res. 2003 Sep;26(9):723-6.
  20. Available at: Accessed May 9, 2007.
  21. Watkins PB, Kaplowitz N, Slattery JT, et al. Aminotransferase elevations in healthy adults receiving 4 grams of acetaminophen daily: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2006 Jul 5;296(1):87-93.
  22. Available at: Accessed May 7, 2007.
  23. Stillman MJ, Stillman MT. Choosing nonselective NSAIDs and selective COX-2 inhibitors in the elderly. A clinical use pathway. Geriatrics. 2007 Feb;62(2):26-34.