Elecampane (Inula helenium)
Tall and stately, elecampane gets its Latin name from Helen of Troy, who is said to have carried a bouquet with her when she was abducted. The herb grows in England, North America and throughout Europe and Asia, and was once cultivated on a large scale. With large soft leaves reminiscent of mullein and bright summer flowers that are similar to sunflowers, the plant is striking in the garden. It has been used medicinally since the days of ancient Rome and Greece. It is also mentioned in ancient Anglo-Saxon writings.
Key Medicinal Uses
Elecampane was given two of its common names from its medicinal uses. Horseheal, because it was used to treat skin problems in horses, and scabwort, because it healed scabs in sheep.
Internally Today elecampane is used for many respiratory complaints like bronchitis and has shown promise for helping some some cardiovascular diseases by relieving cardiac stress. It may also prove useful in lowering blood pressure. It has been traditionally used as a digestive aid. It aids the appetite and has also been used to treat worms. The powdered root can be added to cough syrups, expectorants and pain relievers. It is said to relieve water retention and help prevent tooth decay.
Externally Not used externally
Other Uses The root has also been shown to be the source of a blue dye when mixed with whortleberries and ash as a mordant.
Roots Roots are harvested in the autumn of the plant's second year for the most potency.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, or are borderline, you should stay away from elecampane. Large amounts of this herb can affect blood sugar levels. Likewise, if you are pregnant, do not use, as it has been historically used to stimulate contractions. Some people also experience a skin allergy to this herbal remedy. If you have ragweed allergies, be cautious of using.
Preparation and Dosage
Elecampane is available in tinctures, capsules and teas. It may also be mixed in combination with other herbs in Ayurvedic medicines, so if you should not take this particular, read the label for ingredients.
Don't use more than 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) per dose or more than 3 grams per day. It is not recommended for long term usage.
For an infusion, pour a cup of cold water over a teaspoon of shredded elecampane root. Let this steep for 8 to 10 hours. Heat the infusion before drinking. Take the infusion very hot no more than three times per day.
As a tincture, take 1 teaspoon three times per day for chest congestion.