Part Used: Dried second-year root
Elecampane (Inula helenium) is a large herbaceous perennial herb. It is indigenous to south-eastern Europe and western Asia but naturalised in Britain, Ireland and the north mid-west US. It has a thick, cylindrical, branched rhizome and an erect, sparsely branched, tough, furrowed stem, hairy in the lower part and downy above. It has diuretic, tonic, diaphoretic, expectorant, alterative, antiseptic, astringent and gently stimulant properties. It was employed by the ancients in certain diseases of women, also in phthisis, in dropsy and in skin affections. Elecampane is also used for getting rid of intestinal worms, to eliminate water retention, and to lessen tooth decay and firm the gums. It gives relief to all respiratory ailments. It is usually used in combination with other herbs. Externally it is used as a wash for wounds and itching rashes. It is burned to repel insects. In herbal medicine it is chiefly used for coughs, consumption and other pulmonary complaints, being a favourite domestic remedy for bronchitis. It has been employed for many years with good results in chest affections, for which it is a valuable medicine as it is in all chronic diseases of the lungs asthma and bronchitis. It gives relief to the respiratory difficulties and assists expectoration.
Elecampane may be used in any respiratory condition which produces copious catarrh, such as bronchitis and emphysema and it was traditionally used to treat the cough of pulmonary tuberculosis. Research has shown that the volatile oil is active against the tubercle bacillus. The volatile oil has a stimulating effect on the mucociliary escalator and the circulation, while the saponins stimulate the bronchial structures by reflex from their detergent irritant effect on the stomach wall. This results in an increase in the active elimination of mucus from the lungs. The soothing mucilages help to mitigate what might otherwise be fairly harsh effects. Alantolactone and other related compounds have expectorant, secretolytic and antitussive activity; and have demonstrated antibacterial and antifungal actions too. Alantolactone has been used as an anthelmintic in the treatment of roundworm, threadworm, hookworm and whipworm infestation, and has exhibited anti-inflammatory and hypotensive properties in animals. Elecampane is of particular benefit in the treatment of chronic bronchitis in the elderly and congestive complaints in children. It is an appreciable relaxant so is also indicated when there is a nervous component in a cough. Externally, it may be used in the treatment of scabies, herpes and other skin diseases from which it gained its common name scabwort.
Purple Sage Botanicals. http://www.purplesage.org.uk/profiles/elecampane.htm
Holistic Online. http://www.holisticonline.com/Herbal-Med/_Herbs/h235.htm