The Soothing Benefits of Elecampane
Meet Elecampane, a soothing herb botanically known as Inula helenium, with a long history and even longer list of health benefits. This sunflower-like plant is native to Europe and northern Asia. It’s famous for its ability to clear very serious respiratory infections, but it’s also rich in the prebiotic soluble fiber inulin. This means the benefits of elecampane include a fiber that feeds our probiotic gut friends!
This herb is the stuff that legends are made of…literally.
It was widely used by the Romans for what they called “banquet indigestion” (we can still imagine what that means). Pliny, a Roman scholar, wrote “Let no day pass without eating some of the roots of elecampane, to help digestion, to expel melancholy, and to cause mirth.”
Folklore suggests that Helen of Troy wore the flower of elecampane in her hair as she was abducted from her homeland and that this plant grew wherever Helen's tears fell during this time. This tale had such influence that the herb’s genus name, Helenium, refers to Helen of Troy.
The Algonquin, Cherokee, Delaware, Iroquois, and other Native Americans found the benefits of elecampane to be very useful in treating bronchitis, tuberculosis, asthma, and other “lung funk.” They have also been known to use it to improve digestion, just as the Romans did back in the day.
The Nutritional Benefits of Elecampane
So, what’s so special about elecampane? To start, it is very high in magnesium, thiamin, and zinc…while also being high in calcium, crude fiber, niacin and protein! Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
The downside however, is that it is very enthusiastic in its flavor. This is one of the only herbs I recommend taking like a true medicine. If you do “tea shots,” let’s just say you’ll need a chaser. It tastes like peppery mud, so anything with cinnamon, ginger, or even a coffee (I know!!) will follow it well.
So, what effect does Elecampane have on the body?
- Antiemetic: A substance that stops vomiting
- Antiseptic: An agent that combats and neutralizes pathogenic bacteria and prevents infection
- Astringent: An agent that has a constricting or binding effect
- Bitter herb: Stimulates secretions of digestion and encourages appetite
- Carminative: Relieves intestinal gas pain and distention; promotes peristalsis
- Diaphoretic (mild): Causes perspiration and increases elimination through the skin
- Diuretic: Increases the secretion and flow of urine
- Expectorant: Encourages the loosening and removal of phlegm from the respiratory tract
- Stimulant: Increases internal heat, dispels internal chill and strengthens metabolism and circulation
- Stomachic: Strengthens stomach function
- Vermifuge: Expels or repels intestinal worms (EW!)
Over the years I have used Elecampane for a variety of conditions:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Other respiratory conditions
- Stomach issues and indigestion
- Belly bugs (nematode infestations)
CAUTION: Elecampane is not recommended during pregnancy, lactation, certain types of coughs, or sensitivity to plants in the daisy family.
Ways to Use Elecampane
As long as you have a tasty “chaser,” elecampane is easy to make into a tea shot. To make the tea, cover 1 teaspoon of the roots with 2 cups of water in a small pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let it steep until it cools. Strain and save in an airtight container, like a mason jar with a lid. Take a tablespoon at a time, followed by your chaser of choice, and drink up to two cups total per day.
Elecampane is a wonderful herb, but it’s important not to get crazy with it (or with any other herb!). Our diets play a huge role in our health and should be our starting point. Think nutrient density, fiber, water, and physical exercise.
It’s also a good idea to consult an ND, Herbalist, or practitioner about using elecampane or other herbs you might be unsure of. Each of us has a different story, so our health needs might differ. A practitioner can help guide you. (You can book a consultation with me here.)
Products to Help You Get the Benefits of Elecampane
Chronic Lung Funk Formula: This synergistic blend of herbs is known to support chronic lower respiratory illnesses for the long haul, including bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema. Get it here!
DIY Wild Cherry Bark Syrup: This blend of five herbs, including elecampane, creates a syrup to calm and clear the respiratory system while diminishing coughs and asthma. It’s great for the whole family during cold and flu season! Get some here.
DIY Elderberry Elixir: This ready-to-make formula helps you access the power of elderberry alongside the benefits of elecampane. It’s great to have on hand for virus season! Find it here.
*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. (Because why would we want to do that?)