Today i feel called to talk about Elecampane (Inula helenium). One of my favorite garden plants. Ive always found it impressive in its stature and its flowers wild and joyful. Im not sure exactly why I woke up this morning and felt inspired to write about this plant. Maybe because I need its energy today.
Energetically, Elecampane can help you get out of your head (yep, need that), appreciate the love and beauty within yourself and others and clears away old ideas and fixations. For me, when summer starts to slow down and the night begins to come earlier and get cooler, I begin the process of waning, or going within for winter. Often during this time of year, I get stuck in my head and in a pattern of not so good thoughts which create judgments of myself and others. I want to avoid that self destructive pattern and elecampane is a perfect ally.
Aside from its energetics, Elecampane covers a lot of ground as a medicinal herb. Its a digestive bitter, aromatic (most aromatics are also digestive bitters), expectorant, antitussive, hepatic, antiseptic, diuretic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, immunostimulant, . It is a perennial plant, growing up to 6 feet high, It has large, yellow flower heads and grow from July to September. Bees LOVE this plant.
Other uses for Elecampane
Can be used as a soak for arthritis
Boiling the dried roots in water can freshen a sick room, can also be added to rinse water in laundry to freshen linens
A salve can be used to relieve muscular aches and pains
Old treatment for whooping cough, intestinal parasites, and UTIs
A strong decoction can be used as a wash for scabies
Tones the pancreas, spleen and liver
Useful for infected lungs when green mucous is present
Helpful for post menopausal night sweats
Can relieve pain in the sternum from coughing
Lowers execs blood sugar
Contraindication: Too strong for use during pregnancy ad nursing
Preparation: Harvest after 3 years and dry roots in the sun (use fresh or dry)
Dosage: 3-5 hour decoction (simmer) or 4-20 drops 3-4x per day in tincture form (take with food)
Combines well with: Wild Cherry bark, White Pine bark, Comfrey root, Licorice, Horehound, Coltsfoot, Butterfly Weed, and Yarrow.
Elecampane is named after Helen of Troy. It is said, she was holding elecampane in her hand when she left to live with Paris in Troy. It is also said that it grew from where her tears fell.
In Celtic folklore it was a favorite of the Elves, but was used against Elvin magic. It was also used to attract fairies. In Germany, it was traditional to put an elfwort blossom in the middle of a bouquet to symbolize the Sun and the head of Odin, and the flower has the typical Sun shape (and the freshly harvested seeds smell like frankincense).
Long ago, the root was chewed by travelers when passing close to a polluted river as protection from whatever noxious substance was causing a stench. It is a stimulating expectorant, but one which contains buffering mucilage to soothe the airway passages.
It was used at birth to welcome babies and also in love potions to attract specific lovers and outcomes.