Elfwort, scabwort, horsetail;
wild sunflower, velvet dock, horseheal, aunee, aunse
(French), alycompaine, elfdock, nurse-heal; Alant; Echter
inula campana (Italian); Deviat Sil (Russian);
Fu Hua (Chinese); marchalan (Welsh); Omian (Wielki),
dziewosiil (Polish); Chin Ch'Ien Chu, Chin Ch'Ien Hua,
Elecampagne, Elecampane Inula, Elf Dock, Enula, Helenio,
Hsuan Fu Hua, Induzotu, Mu
Height to 6 feet.
Flowers are daisylike,
yellow with thin petals, to 4 inches.
Leaves are stiff, large to
16 inches, hairy, with velvety undersides on thick hairy
The smaller, top,
heart-shaped leaves clasp the stem. The roots are light
gray, hard, grow from a crown.
Aromatic, the taste is
both bitter and sweet.
Blooms from May to August.
It's a perennial to Zone 3.
Germination is 3-4 weeks.
Start from seeds sown
indoors in late winter, then transplant in 8-12 weeks.
Once plants have been
established, the herb is best propagated from 2inch root
cuttings taken in autumn from the buds of two year old
Cover the cuttings with
moist, sandy soil and store for the winter in a cool indoor
room. Plant the cuttings 2-3 feet apart after danger of
frost has passed in rows 12-18 inches apart.
Deeply cultivated soil
produces the biggest roots.
Elecampane likes, rich,
moist, well-drained, slightly acid loam
(pH of 4.5 to 7) and full
sun or partial shade.
Watch for plant bugs that
suck the juices from leaves. Control them with a botanical
insecticide like pyrethrin or rotenone.
Collect roots for
medicinal and culinary use in fall of the plant's second
season, after several hard frosts. Older roots become too
To speed drying, slice
roots into pieces.
Dry them thoroughly before
storing usually in 7-10 days.
Yields of 2,000 to 3,000
pounds per acre of dry root are possible.
Roots need to be chopped
and washed thoroughly.
Legend has it that Helen of Troy
carried a handful of elecampane on
the fateful day the Trojan
prince, Paris, abducted her from Sparta, igniting the Trojan
War which is were the
helenium comes from.
elecampane stimulated the brain, kidneys, stomach and
The ancient Romans used it
to treat indigestion. They also used it as both food and
flavoring, adding it to sauces for its bitter, camphorlike
flavor and to counter the effects of overeating.
Traditional Chinese and
Indian Ayurvedic physicians used elecampane to treat
respiratory problems, particularly bronchitis and asthma.
It was reputed to cure
scab disease in sheep, where the name scabwort came from. It
was also considered a panacea for horses giving it the name
It was the main ingredient
in a medieval elixir known as
(drink of Paul) an allusion to St. Paul’s biblical
injunction to “use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake.”
Elecampane root was also
candied and eaten as a confection.
elecampane and honey were used to treat whooping cough..
Early American colonists
naturalized elecampane and used it as an expectorant,
digestive aid, menstruation promoter and diuretic for
treatment of the water retention associated with congestive
Indian tribes in the
Northeast adopted the plant for respiratory failure and
century Eclectic physicians used it as a diuretic and
menstruation promoter but prescribed it primarily for
asthma, bronchial and chronic pulmonary affections.
Elecampane candy is said
to have been a favorite of Julia, daughter of Augustus
The Romans mixed the dried
root with raisins, dates, and honey or vinegar for dessert.
In the late Renaissance,
hard elecampane confections were molded into shapes and
English children were given bottles of a sweet drink
composed of elecampane, licorice, sugar and water to enjoy
on Easter Monday.
bactericidal, fungicidal, expectorant, sedative; stimulant;
diaphoretic; diuretic; emmenagogue, expectorant, alterative,
antiseptic, astringent, tonic,
anti-spasmodic, chi tonic
sweet, acrid, bitter, warm (herb) pungent, bitter, warm
Sesquiterpene lactones (bitter
substances): the eudesmanolides alantolactone,
1-desoxy-8-epi-ivangustin), and others, also germacrene
The mixture of
alanto-lactones is also known as helenin or elecampane
Ca.1-3% essential oil
containing alantolactone and its degradation products
(alantol, alantic acid) as principal components, along with
sesquiterpene hydrocarbons (including
hydrocarbons (including monaconsane),
Triterpenes: friedelin, dammaranedienol and its acetate.
and its glucoside, stigmasterol.
Up to 44%
inulin, together with
various degradation products.
have discovered elecampane contains a chemical,
alantolactone, that helps expel intestinal parasites and is
better than santonin and less toxic (1 teaspoon of root to a
cup of water, bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes, drinking
up to 3 cups a day). It is also anti-inflammatory,
anti-bacterial, and fungicidal adding to its potential
therapeutic action in the intestine.
All chronic lung conditions such
as bronchitis and asthma are helped by it.
It is generally mixed with
other lung herbs (often white horehound, coltsfoot, pleurisy
root and yarrow).
It is a constitutional
treatment for general catarrhal conditions such as chronic
pulmonary affections that have symptoms of cough, shortness
of breath, wheezing in the lungs, a specific for whooping
cough in children, pneumonia, diseases of the breast and
malignant fevers, hepatic torpor, dyspepsia and the feeling
of stitches in the side caused by the spleen.
It’s warming for a cold,
It doesn’t suppress the
cough, but increases expectoration.
Elecampane produces an active
principle called helenin, which is antiseptic and
antibacterial, making the root useful in salves and surgical
Elecampane contains an
essential oil that consists primarily of sequiterpene
The root also contains the
complex carbohydrate inulin.
This starchy material
swells and forms a slippery suspension when mixed with
The inulin soothes the
lining of the digestive tract and provides the benefits of
It also apparently elicits
a sympathetic expectorant response to mucous membranes of
the respiratory system.
A bitter-aromatic tonic,
elecampane root increases appetite and promotes digestion.
Europeans with indigestion
still sometimes sip on a cordial made by infusing the roots,
sugar and currants in white port.
In Russia, the whole root is preserved
in vodka to store it for winter use.
Soluble in alcohol and
partially in water.
Used in China for certain cancers. Wash used for facial
neuralgia, sciatica. Experimentally, tea strongly sedative
In small doses, it lowers
blood-sugar levels, but in large doses, it raises blood
sugar, at least in experimental animals. The inulin in
elecampane is an aromatic substance resembling starch. It is
stimulating, expectorant, and antiseptic. Tends to cover the
odor of garlic.
For a decoction, gently
boil 1-2 teaspoons of dried powdered root in 3 cups of water
for 30 minutes.
Take 1 or 2 Tablespoons at
a time with honey, p to 2 cups a day.
In a tincture, use 1/4 to
1/2 teaspoon up to 3 times a day.
It should not be given to
children under age 2.
Decoction of Elecampane: 2 ounces of elecampane (cut), 1
quart of distilled water
Put the herb into the water and let stand for 2 hours. Bring
to boil and simmer for 30 minutes, covered. Strain, then
return liquor to saucepan and simmer until reduced to 3/4
pint. Add 4 ounces of pure glycerine. Let cool, bottle and
keep in a cold place.
1 tablespoon in an equal amount
of water 3 or 4 times a day, between meals.
Children: 1 teaspoon or more
according to age, given in honey water.
Honey is a soothing and
healing balm for children, and should be given freely to
those with a tendency to catarrh. When making this formula
especially for children, substitute 6 or 7 ounces of honey
for the glycerine.
Elecampane may be given in
much larger doses in cases of chronic lung trouble; up to a
teacupful. In all such cases, DO NOT ADD THE
GLYCERINE. Make up the decoction fresh each day.
When glycerine is used in a formula, the proportion should
be a teaspoonful to a dose, no matter how large the dose. In
order to increase its tonic qualities, and make it slightly
laxative, add a teaspoonful of the compound syrup of
mandrake at time of taking. To produce free perspiration,
make the decoction, but leave out the glycerine. While the
patient is well covered in bed, give as hot as can be
tolerated in 1/2 teacupful doses until the patient perspires
Breathe-Easy Tea for Asthma sufferers: 1 quart boiling water; 1 tsp each chamomile
flowers, echinacea root, mullein leaves and passionflower
leaves; ½ tsp each elecampane root and lemon verbena leaves.
Pour boiling water over
the herbs in a saucepan and steep for 10-15 minutes.
Strain out herbs.
Give as a preventive or a
few times a day when breathing becomes strained or when
emotional conditions may lead to an asthma attack.
For children dosage is ½
cup tea for 50 pound child.
1 tsp elecampane root
1 tsp sage leaves
1 tsp goldenseal root
1 tsp Solomon’s seal
1 tsp horehound leaves
3 cups honey
1 lb honey
Combine the above herbs in
a pan and cover with the water; bring to a boil for 20
Combine the tea with the
honey and heat on low.
Stir to dissolve the
honey; when dissolved, remove the mixture from the heat.
When cool, pour into glass
containers and seal. Take two tablespoons at a time, as
1 tsp black cohosh root
1 tsp stone root
1 tsp elecampane root
3 cups water
Combine the above herbs in
a pan and cover with the water.
Bring to a boil and boil
for 30 minutes; cool and strain. You may want to sweeten
Take two to three
tablespoons up to six times a day.
Homeopaths use Inula for diabetes, bronchial infections and
"bearing down" sensations in the pelvic region with
Since it has been used
traditionally to promote menstruation, pregnant women are
advised not to use it. Animal studies show that small doses
of the herb lower blood sugar levels, but higher doses raise
them which indicates diabetics should be careful of it.
non-irritant though sensitive individuals may develop a rash
from skin contact with it or its oil.
The alantolactones may
irritate the mucous membranes.
Large doses of the drug
can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and symptoms of
EXTRACTION METHOD: essential oil by steam distillation from
the dried roots and rhizomes.
An absolute and concrete are also produced in small
CHARACTERISTICS: a semi-solid or viscous dark yellow or
brownish liquid with a dry, soft, woody, honey-like odor,
often containing crystals
BLENDS WELL WITH: canaga, cinnamon, labdanum, lavender,
mimosa, frankincense, orris, tuberose, violet, cedarwood,
patchouli, sandalwood, cypress, bergamot, and oriental
USES: The oil and absolute
are used as fixatives and fragrance components in soaps,
detergetns, cosmetics and perfumes.
Used as a flavor
ingredient in alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and
for blackheads and problem skin in a facial steam.
element--water; basic power--love; Elecampane is burned as
incense to bring joy and is worn to attract love.
Add to love charms of all
kinds, especially in conjunction with mistletoe and vervain.
Along with it’s strong
association with the elven world, the energy of this herbe
can stimulate the inner child, but can also be capricious.
It can be used to work
with the eldritch and the devas.
Language of Flowers: woe,
sorry, "I cry for you".
A blue dye is made by mixing elecampane with ashes and
Until about 1920, elecampane root
was a common flavoring in English sweets, such as sugar
cakes colored red with cochineal and the root itself was
Ashthmatics would chew a
piece in the morning and evening.
Those who traveled by a
polluted river sucked the root to protect them from the
It is still used in some
European wines and liqueurs, particularly vermouth, Absinthe
and the French Vin d'Aulnee.
It also has a long history
as a brewing ingredient.
The roots provide a sweet
flavor similar to licorice.
Use ¼ to 2 ounces of the
dried root midway through the boil to add the licorice
1 quart of fresh red currants
1 quart f good brandy
2 cups of candied elecampane roots
Crush the currants at a
time, until they are thoroughly mashed.
Add a half-cup of water
and simmer for 10 minutes, then strain out the juice through
a jelly bag. This will give you about 1 pint of bright-red
To this, add 2 cups of
sugar while the juice is still hot, and stir until the sugar
is thoroughly dissolved, then when cool, add the quart of
Find 2 quart bottles with
mouths wide enough so that you can get the elecampane into
them and put a cup of Candied Elecampane into each.
Pour the mixed brandy and
currant juice over the elecampane, seal the bottles, store
them in a dark place and don't touch them for a month.
The longer the elecampane
is left in, the stronger the flavor it imparts.
Dispels melancholy and
1 ¼ cup water
1 cup sugar
4 oz (about 2/3 cup) dried,
chopped elecampane root
2 cups port wine
Make a sugar syrup with
the water and sugar.
When it is clear, add the
elecampane root and lower the heat to a slow simmer.
Simmer 10 minutes, then
let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Strain into a large jar.
Ad the wine.
Mix and haord as a remedy
for colds and flu.
(The Herbal Epicure)
Put a half-teaspoon of
baking soda and 1 cup of sugar into a saucepan, mix
thoroughly, then add a half-cup of light cream.
Bring to a boil over
medium high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it
reaches the soft-ball stage, or shows exactly 234F on your
Remove from heat, stir in
1 level tablespoon of butter, then stir in 1 cupful of
candied elecampane root, chopped fine.
Beat until thick--2 or 3
minutes---then drop by the teaspoonful on waxed paper and
Cut each scrubbed root
crosswise into 2 inch lengths, then slice each piece
lengthwise into 4-8 segments.
To 2 cups of prepared
pieces add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a
boil then reduce the heat and barely simmer until the
elecampane is tender.
Drain the elecampane and
bottle the syrup as a cough remedy.
Allow the candied
elecampane to dry on waxed paper for two days, then roll in
granulated sugar, let dry another day and store in tight
A Druid's Herbal, Ellen Evert Hopman, Destiny Books, 1995,
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants,
Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997; ISBN:
The Healing Herbs, Michael Castleman, Rodale, 1991, ISBN:
Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals,
Max Wichtl, CRC Press, 1994
Herbs for Health and Healing,
Kathi Keville, Rodale, 1997
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils,
Julia Lawless, Element Books, 1995
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia,
Kathi Keville, Mallard, 1991; ISBN: 0-7924-5307-7
Indian Herbalogy of
North America, Alma R. Hutchens, Merco, 1973
Magical Herbalism, Scott Cunningham, Llewelyn, 1982; ISBN:
Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field &
Lee Sturdivant and Tim Blakley, 1998,
San Juan Naturals
W. Whitman Co, 1995; ISBN: 1-885653-03-4
Secrets Native American Herbal Remedies,
Anthony J Cichoke, Avery Books, 2001; ISBN: 1-58333-100-X
Stalking the Healthful Herbs,
Euell Gibbons, Alan Hood,
1989; ISBN: 0-911469-06-0
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