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  • Botanical: Inula helenium
  • Family: Asteraceae or Compositae
  • Hits: 482


Inula helenium


Asteraceae or Compositae

Known as

Elecampane, Horse heal, Marchalan, Echter Alant, Scabwort. Elf Dock. Wild Sunflower. Horseheal. Velvet Dock.

Old Use

medical, culinary, dye

Collection Times

Aug to September

Parts Used

leaves, roots


abdominal pain, asthma, bronchitis, bronchitis, colds, coughs, cramps, cramps stomach, digestion, difficulty breathing, gastritis, gastrointestinal, laxative, indigestion, respiratory, throat inflammation

Infection & Inflammation

chills, fever, flu, immunity, infections, infections intestinal, throat infections, throat inflammation

Respiratory System

asthma, bronchitis, cough, difficulty breathing, lung weakness, respiratory, throat infections

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, digestion, gastrointestinal, gastric inflammation, laxative, indigestion, stomach pain, stomach cramps, stomach complaints


antiseptic, astringent, cholagogue, diuretic, stimulant, tonic


It is a striking and handsome plant. The erect stem grows from 4 to 5 feet high, is very stout and deeply furrowed, and near the top, branched. The whole plant is downy. It produces a radical rosette of enormous, ovate, pointed leaves, from 1 to 1 1/2 feet long and 4 inches broad in the middle velvety beneath, with toothed margins an borne on long foot-stalks; in general appearance the leaves are not unlike those of Mullein. Those on the stem become shorter andrelatively broader and are stem-clasping. The plant is in bloom from June to August. The flowers are bright yellow, in very large, terminal heads, 3 to 4 inches in diameter, on long stalks, resembling a double sunflower. The broad bracts of the leafy involucre under the head are velvety. After the flowers have fallen, these involucral scales spread horizontally, and the removal of the fruit shows the beautifully regular arrangement of the little pits on the receptacle, which form a pattern like the engine-turning of a watch. The fruit is quadrangular and crowned by a ring of pale-reddish hairs - the pappus. The plant springs from a perennial rootstock, which is large and succulent, spindleshaped and branching, brown and aromatic, with large, fleshy roots.

Properties & Uses

Elecampane has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. A gently warming and tonic herb, it is especially effective in treating coughs, consumption, bronchitis and many other complaints of the chest as well as disorders of the digestive system. A very safe herb to use, it is suitable for the old and the young and especially useful when the patient is debilitated. It cleanses toxins from the body, stimulating the immune and digestive systems and treating bacterial and fungal infections. The root is alterative, anthelmintic, antiseptic, astringent, bitter, cholagogue, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, mildly expectorant, gently stimulant, stomachic, tonic. It is best harvested in the autumn from plants that are two years old, and it can be dried for later use. The roots should be at least 3 years old according to another report. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women. An extract of the plant is a powerful antiseptic and bactericide, particularly effective against the organism that causes TB. The root contains alantolactone, which is strongly anthelmintic. In a 1:1000 dilution it kills the parasitic worm Ascaris in 16 hours. 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.

Other Uses

A blue dye is obtained from the bruised and macerated root mixed with ashes and whortleberries (Vaccinium myrtillus). The root yields up to 2% of a camphor-scented essential oil, this is used as a flavouring and medicinally


Allergic reactions. Potential to interfere with the treatment of diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure. Avoid if history of allergy


S.E. Europe. Naturalized in Britain.


Inulin levulin, mucilage, sugar and several glucosides. 

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.