Botanical name: Inula helenium
Inula helenium| herb info from the Happy Herb Company

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Elecampane is a plant that has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. A gently warming and tonic herb, it is especially effective in treating coughs, bronchitis and many other complaints of the chest as well as disorders of the digestive system. It also restores the lungs by healing damaged lung linings.

'The world's first cough lozenge', Elecampane root was traded around Europe by French monks.  It was also used against tuberculosis.  Helen of Troy was believed to be gathering Elecampane when she was abducted by Paris, hence its botanical name 'Inula helenium'.

Effects:  Sucking on a piece of elecampane may give some people a mild herbal high of its own; aptly described as a 'sideways stone'. Elecampane certainly gives your mouth and tastebuds a high!  Warning:  Sucking on more than a small piece may irritate the mucous membranes of the mouth.

Essentially it is a very safe plant to use, it is suitable for the old and the young and especially useful when the patient is debilitated by their chest issues. It cleanses toxins from the body, stimulating the immune and digestive systems and treating bacterial and fungal infections, and is also good for the pancreas as a rich source of insulin.

The root contains alantolactone, which is strongly anthelmintic (compounds that expel parasitic worms from the body). Alantolactone has an anti-inflammatory action, it also reduces mucous secretions and stimulates the immune system. The plant is sometimes recommended as an external wash for skin inflammations and varicose ulcers, but has been known to cause allergic reactions.

Medicinal uses include: Antiseptic, asthma, bladder cattarrh, bronchitis, colds, colid, consumption, convulsions, coughs, cramps, diabetes, diarrhoea, digestion, female problems, flu, harm reduction from smoking, haemorrhages, high blood pressure, internal injury, indigestion, insomnia, joint pain, laryngitis, loose teeth, lungs, menstrual problems, night sweats, phlegm, poisoning, recovery from illness, skin deseases, sciatica, sore throat, stimulant, stomach tonic, sugar substitute, whooping cough, worms.


Commmonly used for: 
Rays Rave: 

"Elecampane is another wonderful lung-cleansing herb for smokers. Enabling better breathing effiiency, elecampane also restores the lungs by healing damaged lung linings. Elecampane is also good for the pancreas as a rich source of natural insulin. Chew on a root piece or take as a tea for chronic lung conditions. It also strengthens digestion, inhibits and expels mucus and relieves nausea and vomiting. Elecampane is known as the 'singer's herb' for its protection of the larynx and throat."

Precautions / Contraindications: 

This plant/remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women. It is powerful and sucking on more than a small piece may irritate the mucous membrane

Shipard, I. (2003). How can I use herbs in my daily life? Nambour: Stewart
Thorpe, R. (2001). Happy High Herbs 6th Ed. Loch:Possibility.com
Plants for a Future (1996-2010). Inula helenium - L. http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Inula+helenium
Image: By H. Zell (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons