Inula helenium

Inula helenium              Common name:  Elecampane

Family: Asteraceae

Parts used: Root or rhizome

Constituents:  CHOs, especially as mucilage & Inulin (40%) Volatile oil (1-4%) containing bitter sesquiterpene lactones (alantolactone, isoalantolactone, alantopicrin, alantic acid & azulene), saponins, sterols, resin.

Medicinal actions:  Diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, alterative, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic

Medicinal use: It is used in any chronic lung condition as a trophorestorative. It acts as a warming expectorant, and is anti-inflammatory, immunostimulatory and somewhat sedating overall, is most indicated in irritating bronchial coughs (astham, TB, whooping cough, croup), especially in children or the elderly. Will remove excess mucus and chronic catarrh). As a warming digestive bitter will tonify the digestive tract as a whole. Has traditional use as a surgical antiseptic and can be used as an antimicrobial topically.


  • VO is spasmolytic on smooth muscle tissues
  • Sesquiterpene lactones (alantolactone, isoalantolactone) are widely antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Isolated alantolactone has been used to treat parasites (e.g. roundworm, hookworm).
  • Mucilage has a relaxing & carminative effect which combines well with the stimulation and expectoration of the VO
  • Inulin is a prebiotic that will aid in the balance of blood sugar levels and of the microbiome.

Pharmacy: Tincture (1:5, 25%) 2-5 ml TID. Powdered herb:  2-4 g daily. Cold infusion of 1 tsp/cup; let steep overnight; drink 1 cup TID hot the next day.

Toxicity: None known.

Contraindications: Use caution when lungs are irritated or dry as it can increases dryness and gives a feeling of constriction. May cause contact dermatitis topically. 

Interactions:  None known.

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