One of the most important herbs to the Greeks and Romans, Elecampane was regarded as almost a cure-all for ailments as diverse as dropsy, digestive upsets, menstrual disorders and sciatica. Anglo-Saxons used the herb as a tonic for skin diseases and leprosy. Today it is used mainly for respiratory complaints.

Botanical name: Inula helenium
Common name(s): Elecampane
Family: Asteraceae
Part used: Root and rhizome – harvest in Autumn – wash and chop into small pieces before drying

Active Constituents:
  • Inulin 40% (immunostimulating – stimulates expectoration)
  • Sesquiterpene lactones
  • Triterpenoid saponins (expectorant)
  • Volatile oil – helenin (Anthelmintic) — loosens phlegm & debris – also antiseptic
  • Polyacetylenes (antibacterial)
  • Mucilage
  • Alantoin  – also high in Comfrey – heals damaged tissues rapidly & safely. Also demulcent which heals the lung lining (mucus membranes) (Hall)

Qualities: Warm, dry (Holmes) Bitter and slightly sweet (Ody)

Herbal Person-Picture:
Pale complexion without pinkish-tinge. May be greyish.
Shallow breathing.
May lift their shoulders to create deep breaths rather than diaphragm pushing below. Ask patient to take a deep breath and observe. Shoulders may look like being pulled up. They may hunch down over their solar plexus, especially if they sit for long periods of time.
Person who needs Inula may be tired, sigh a lot, have cold extremities, have stabbing pain in the sternum. They may worry that these are ‘pains in the heart’ or that they have a heart condition.  (Dorothy Hall)

“Inula campana reddit praecordia sana (Elecampane will the spirits sustain)” – Traditional Latin Saying

  • Expectorant (stimulating) /Mucociliary escalator
  • Antibacterial
  • Bronchospasmolytic/ Relaxant to bronchial musculature (ess oils)
  • Mucolytic
  • Pulmonary tonic /trophorestorative
  • Diaphoretic
  • Antiinflammatory
  • Digestive tonic (bitter)
  • Anthelmintic

Produces a LARGER LUNG CAPACITY —- This INCREASES AVAILABLE OXYGEN. This can lead to the body better dealing with infection due to efficient oxygenation (Hall).

Bronchial or tracheal catarrh
Bronchitis-acute and chronic (specific)
Asthma (wet)
Cough (wet)
Chronic cough with lowered appetite
Congestive LRT complaints
Bacterial LRT infections
Where there is a need for BETTER BREATHING EFFICIENCY 
  • Excellent TONIC especially for weakness following influenza or bronchitis
  • Shifts STUBBORN PHLEGM to help with coughs and congestion

  • Asteraceae allergy
  • Lactation- Sesquiterpene lactones
  • Pregnancy (British Herbal Compendium)
Hypersensitivity to Sesquiterpene lactones
Dorothy Hall says care should be taken with giving Inula to Asthmatics — due to the herb’s ability to loosen too much wet mucus and waste matter in the lungs – which may AGGRAVATE & PROVOKE an attack.

Liquid Extract:
3-6ml 1:2 LE /day
20-40ml 1:2 LE / week
Dried Herb Equivalent:
4.5-12g/day of dried root (decoction)

White horehound, mullein, pleurisy root, liquorice
For lower breathing mechanism — garlic & echinacea (e.g. threatened pneumonia, bronchitis

  • DECOCTION: Use for bronchitis, asthma, Upper respiratory catarrh or to ease HAYFEVER Sx. Take regularly for long-standing respiratory complaints. Also acts as digestive/liver tonic/stimulant
  • WASH: Decoction or diluted tincture for eczema, rashes and varicose ulcers
  • SYRUP: Made from decoction – take for coughs

References & Links to Articles:

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