Hrísey - The medicine of Angelica

Did you know, Angelica has been used for medicinal purposes since early times?
Listen to a story from Linda María Ásgeirsdóttir who lives on the island. Linda owns a restaurant and uses the Angelica in many of her dishes.

In the player below you can listen to the story as well as it is available in writing further down the page.
The story is read by Vilhjálmur Bermann Bragason.


"Angelica has been used for medicinal purposes since early times. Wild Angelica grows on Hrísey and has been harvested on the island for producing various remedies and supplements since the beginning of this century. Angelica is considered to be particularly effective against bladder ailments and Hrísey island’s oldest residents state that the need to go to the bathroom during the night has disappeared after they started drinking tea from Angelica leaves. The plant also contains the same active ingredients as Viagra (minus the blue colour), so we say that it’s healthier than Viagra. Most recently, experiments have been made with powder from dried and ground Angelica roots in cooperation with producers of wine and natural goods.

Hrísiðn is a tool production company founded in 2004 by local couple Bjarni Thorarensen, a mechanic and marine engineer, and Sigríður Magnúsdóttir, a fish factory worker and homemaker. Hrísiðn makes and sells rakes of different shapes and sizes, as well as scythes, and dried Angelica. Hrísiðn has been certified by Tún for its organic and sustainable production of natural products. In 2007, Hrísiðn began cooperating with Saga Medica on the experimental production of Angelica from Hrísey for supplements and two years later larger-scale production was launched. In the summer of 2010, Hrísiðn invested in a container for drying the plant, along with a processing facility, increasing its production capacity. Today, Hrísiðn has three containers for drying and sells one tonne of dried Angelica to SagaNatura (as the company is now called) every year for its production of natural supplements.

In a six-week period from mid-June to mid-August (depending on the weather and the plant’s growth status), six to ten employees are hired to pick Angelica leaves. The leaves that each employee picks are weighed after each workday. The workers are mainly teenagers from the island, who are assisted by older residents, or foreign laborers who come specifically to participate in the harvest. In the last four years, the workforce has consisted of foreign laborers who return every summer and enjoy their stay on Hrísey during the best time of year.

Bjarni himself makes almost all of the company’s tools and machines and the technology he has invented is incredible. Hrísiðn is in operation all year round; in the winter they make the rakes by hand, which is rather time consuming. Both the leaves and seeds from the Angelica are used, the leaves are ground and used for tea and the seeds as spice."