Elecampane

Elecampane

Happy Monday herbalists.  :)

Today's post will briefly cover the herb Elecampane.  There is something very intriguing about this medicinal plant.  It has rich history, beauty and medicinal power which makes it a great herb to keep stocked in your herbal medicine chest.  The Roman scholar Pliny once wrote "Let no day pass without eating some of the roots of elecampane...to help digestion, to expel melancholy, and to cause mirth."  Elecampane was celebrated and prized by the Romans, used in medicinal and magical rituals by the Anglo Saxons, and Tudor herbalists candied the roots for respiratory problems.  So it is safe to say that Elecampane has withstood the test of time. 

The Denver Medicinal Plant Society discussed Elecampane (Inula helenium) at the January meeting, touching on it's bitter principles, and it's uses as a digestive.  But there is much more to Elecampane than it's digestive actions, the root is very useful towards many respiratory ailments.

Inula helenium - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-210.jpg

Inula helenium

Habitat: 

Native to Central and Northern Europe.  Now naturalized in North America from Nova Scotia to the Carolinas and West to Missouri.  Prefers damp soils, sun to part shade

Description: A perennial growing to 10 ft with large pointed leaves and daisy like flowers. 

Parts Used:  Root

Actions:  Expectorant, soothes coughing, diaphoretic (increases sweating), diuretic, mild stimulant, bitter, antiseptic, anti inflammatory

Medicinal Uses:

Chiefly used for coughs and other pulmonary complaints.  It is considered warming for the lungs and can helps stimulate the removal of mucus.  Helpful for chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma.  Due to its bitter principles, Elecampane is a tonic for the digestive system, improving digestion, absorption of nutrients and stimulating appetite.  A decoction of the root has long been used externally for scabies, herpes, acne and other skin diseases. 

Preparations: Standard decoction 1/2 cup 2-3 times a day

                         Tincture for bronchitis, mix equal parts Elecampane and Thyme. Take 1 tsp 3x/day

                         Syrup for coughs, take 1-2 tsp every 2 hours.

Precautions/Contraindications:  Avoid if pregnant.  Due to fluctuations of blood sugar levels during use, diabetics should consult with a physician.  Due to possible contact dermatitis, use with caution. 

Below is a great recipe for Elecampane Syrup, which would be an excellent medicine to keep on hand throughout the winter months.  This syrup could be used as a digestive aid after a heavy winter meal, or to provide some relief to the chest when the cold/flu arrives at your door.

Elecampane Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Elecampane root (dried)
  • 1/2 cup Ginger root (dried)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups honey

Equipment

  • 1 measuring cup
  • 1 set of measuring spoons
  • 2 small cook pots (1 with lid)
  • 1 strainer
  • 1 clean, resealable bottle
  • 1 label

Procedure

  1. Pour the herbs into the cook pot and heat to boiling.
  2. Take cook pot immediately off the heat source, cover pot with lid and allow herbs to steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Pour herbs through the strainer and keep 2 cups of infused water for syrup.
  4. Heat honey and infused water to make syrup.
  5. More honey may be added for a sweeter syrup.
  6. Pour finished product into bottle and label clearly.

Thank you for checking in!  Have a great day!