Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Herbs - E is for Elecampane

"Let no day pass without eating some of the roots of elecampane..
to help digestion, to expel melancholy, and to cause mirth." - Pliny

Many centuries ago, Roman scholar Pliny wrote of the benefits and uses of the herb elecampane. To this day, it is still being used in many of these same applications as well as in new formulations.

Latin Name:   Inula helinium of the family asteraceae

Alternate Name(s):  horseheal, elfdock, scabwort, elfwort, wild sunflower

Description:  Elecampane is a hardy perennial with tall softly hairy stems that can grow up to 6ft tall.  Pointed leaves with toothed edges showcase yellow flowers that are similar to shaggy daisies or some varieties of sunflowers.

Habitat: Likes damp, moist soil in a sunny location. Propagate by division of roots in spring or autumn or by seed which is much slower to germinate than many of the other herb seeds. pH levels are acceptable from almost 6 down to 4.5

Growing: It usually blooms in late summer and is fairly easy to grow, even for the novice herb gardener.

Harvesting: Elecampane roots can be harvested after the 2nd year of growth, while the aerial parts can be used immediately after the first blooming.  As with most harvests, it is best to do it early in the morning after the dew has dried and before the heat sets it.  This will ensure more of the oils will still be up in the aerial parts of the plants.

Uses: The roots and flowers are both used (both fresh & dried) and are usually combined with other herbs.  Many of the old herbals showed various uses as cough syrups and remedies as well as tonics.  The roots were often candied like ginger root and used as a digestive aid by ancient Greeks and Romans after their meals.  

In my researching of this plant I have come across many, many listed uses for elecampaneAs with all of my articles and posts about herbs - I am not suggesting or promoting their use for anything.  I am simply sharing what I have been told or have found during my studies.  Always talk to your doctor or do your own research before trying something new.  Even things found in nature in their natural state can be deadly.  Now, back to my findings:  Elecampane has supposedly been used as a natural sweetener for diabetics (interesting to find out how it compares to Stevia).  It seems to have many uses for respiratory distresses such as infections, coughs, asthma, bronchitis, etc.

One of my favorite tidbits was that early veterinarians used this herb in both horses and sheep very effectively.  It has also shown to be useful for kennel cough in cats and dogs as well as having fungicidal and sedative qualities.  I found it on several lists of herbs for expelling worms too.  Very interesting little herb!

Elecampane Tea
1 oz elecampane root
1 pt water

Simmer the root and water together for about 20 minutes.  Let cool before drinking.  This tea is said to be a great remedy for coughs and other minor respiratory ailments as well as having sedative properties.

Notes: People with allergies or sensitivities to plants in the sunflower (asteraceae) family have been shown to also have problems with this plant and should avoid its use.


Disclaimer: The information presented herein is intended for educational, informational, and recreational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. It is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider before taking any supplements, herbs, or other substances.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to come by MoonCat Farms. We welcome your comments and look forward to hearing what you think. (Please note that we do have comment moderation on so that we will be sure to never miss a comment from one of our valued readers.) If you're entering one of our giveaways, PLEASE be sure to leave a way for us to contact you if you're the winner.