Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

Iceland’s Angelic Herb: Treating new ailments with old remedies

Written by on . Published in Death threat on .

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) currently cause 60% of deaths worldwide and are set to become the number one cause of disability by 2030. They affect people in all parts of the world and include cancer, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes. A change in lifestyle can reduce the prevalence of NCDs and environmental factors also contribute to how many people are affected by NCDs in each country. NCDs used to be a concern mostly for developed countries but today they also significantly impact people in developing countries, where many patients cannot afford the healthcare they need in order to battle such diseases.

The treatment of NCDs typically consists of a change in lifestyle, such as eating healthily and exercising more, and the use of medicine. Patients can choose whether they turn to Western medicine, herbal-medicine or a mix of the two. Herbal medicine and alternative practitioners are often seen with skepticism, although they can also complement Western medicine rather than take its place.

In Scandinavia, alternative medicine is gaining some legitimacy, in Norway and Denmark healthcare providers are now allowed to subscribe alternative treatments for patients, although concerns have been raised regarding doctor´s knowledge of the actual effects of alternative medicine they can now prescribe.

Not all alternative medicine has its roots in the far east. The use of certain plants in order to cure some diseases was documented in Scandinavia as well. In Iceland, medical firm Saga Medica incorporates the traditional medicinal value of the plant angelica archangelica in order to cure a variety of ailments such as poisoning, indigestion and liver problems.

The company is systematically researching the eighty medicinal herbs that grow in Iceland with scientists from institutes in the University of Iceland, such as the Microbiology Institute, the Department of Pharmacy and the Research Institute of the Icelandic Cancer Society. The scientists are studying the bioactivity of the supposed medicinal herbs. Some of them may be more useful than the vikings realised, today angelica archangelica‘s effects on cancer cells are under investigation and an oil extracted from the plant has shown cytotoxic activity, or an ability to kill cancer cells.

In fighting the diseases of the modern world, we should then also investigate what good there may be in ancient remedies.

Here is Saga Medica’s promotional video about its products that includes an introduction to angelica archangelica. No endorsement, commercial or otherwise, is implied:

Saga Medica Advertisement


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

kammathordarson Twitter: @kammathordarsonKamma

An Icelandic freelance journalist, currently doing a diploma in Development Studies at the University of Iceland. Has a bachelors degree from Sciences Po Paris where she studied political sciences with a focus on Asia and has previously lived in Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Lin Yi (China) and Leeds.