Elecampane – Inula helenium

August 3, 2018 Sachabegg

Elecampane is an interesting herb that popped up in an old abandoned flower bed in my yard. I had wondered for years what it was. It grew so tall, about 5-6′ with lovely yellow flowers, reminiscent of a sunflower with dainty, skinny petals. The leaves were so interesting too because they were really big and hugged or cupped the stem where they attached.

So fast forward a few years, and I have sewn some elecampane seeds and planted them in my garden. As they come into their second year, I begin to recognize who they are, and that I already had their sister in my yard for years! Since then, another specimen, the grandest of them all, has seeded itself right in the crack between my house and my lawn. It easily grows 6-7′ tall with leaves 1.5′ long! Elegant and beautiful, elecampane has gently entered itself into my garden and into my life.

The part of the plant that is used medicinally is the rhizome/root. It is gentle and effective for chronic coughs and all matter of respiratory issues. It is an expectorant and brings up stuck mucus. It has demulcent properties which make it soothing to the digestive lining and mucus membranes. It stimulates the appetite and has traditionally been used as a stomach tonic. It is warming, mildly bitter, and anti-microbial.

According to JJ Pursell in “The Herbal Apothecary”, the flower essence of elecampane helps one move through and move on, and overcome deeply ingrained fears or grief.

Steep 15-30 minutes for an infusion (tea), or simmer 15-30 minutes for a decoction. Parts used are the rhizome or roots.