Benefits and Uses of Elecampane

Elecampane (Inula helenium) is an herbaceous perennial in the Asteraceae family, that is hardy from zone 3-9. It’s an amazing plant for the respiratory system, but the benefits and uses of elecampane have a wide range.

Elecampane’s antiseptic, bitter, diaphoretic, and expectorant properties, offer medicinal benefits for the digestive and immune systems, as well as providing an anti-inflammatory property that could help several conditions.

Elecampane plant
Elecampane root
Elecampane Flower

Breathing

One of the biggest areas where elecampane shines is with its respiratory benefits. As a powerful expectorant, its an excellent herb for helping to clear mucus and phlegm from the lungs. Elecampane contains active compounds that can cause bronchodilation (relaxing and opening the bronchial tubes in the upper airway). Because of these properties, this amazing herb is used to relieve symptoms of pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and other respiratory conditions, to support breathing and healthy lung function.

Digestion

Elecampane is also quite beneficial in the digestive system. As a digestive bitter, it supports the liver by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes. This can help soothe digestive issues and improve nutrient absorption in the intestines. Elecampane also contains inulin, which is a prebiotic that encourages growth of healthy gut bacteria. You can learn more about how herbs are beneficial to gut health and how vital a healthy gut is in my course The Herbal Gut.

Immunity & Inflammation

The bioactive compounds in elecampane have immune modulating properties that help regulate immune function. Immune modulation refers to changing the way the immune system responds. In a person with a healthy immune system, elecampane can help by boosting that normal healthy function to help protect you from illness. In a person with a compromised immune system, elecampane can help to regulate the immune system so it behaves as it should, instead of over or under reacting to an illness. This immune modulating capability has been the subject of studies that suggest elecampane may be helpful for those with autoimmune disease, specifically with inflammatory arthritis.

Warnings

While it is generally listed as a safe herb, it’s important that you ensure you do not have any conditions or take any medications that may interact with elecampane. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid elecampane due to its potential uterine-stimulating effects. Individuals with allergies to plants in the Asteraceae family (like ragweed, chamomile, marigolds) should also avoid elecampane as it may trigger an allergic reaction.

Uses For Elecampane

If you are interested in adding elecampane to your home apothecary, there are several ways you utilize its goodness.

  • Decoction: A wonderful addition to a respiratory tea blend.
  • Syrup: Makes a wonderful cough syrup (see the recipe below).
  • Oxymel: Infused honey & ACV.
  • Tincture: Mix 1 part dried herb to 5 parts vodka, or 2 parts fresh herb to 5 parts vodka.
  • Salve: Anti-inflammatory properties make an elecampane infused salve great for inflamed skin conditions.

Elecampane Cough Syrup

spoonful of syrup on leaves

A simple and powerful cough syrup.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 TBS Elecampane Root
  • 2 TBS Licorice Root
  • 1 TBS Ginger Root
  • 1 cup Raw Honey
  • 4 cups Filtered Water

Instructions

  1. Make a decoction with the water and herbs, simmering until the water is reduced by almost half.
  2. Stain your herbs and allow it to cool enough so you do not "cook" the honey, but it still melts and easily incorporates with your decoction.
  3. Store your syrup in the refridgerator for 3 months.

Notes

Dosage for your syrup should always start with the lowest dose. Start with 1/2 a tsp and move up to 1 tsp if needed. This syrup can be used 3 times per day, or more during acute illness.

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