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Medicinal use of elecampane

Elecampane high (Inula helenium)

Elecampane high (Inulahelenium) - an ancient medicinal plant that was used by the fathers of medicine - Hippocrates and Galen. By the way, it owes its name to ancient Greek myths. According to one version, the name helenium means sunny, which reminds of bright yellow inflorescences, and according to the second version, these are the tears of the beautiful Elena, because of whom the Trojan War began. In Norse mythology, elecampane is dedicated to the supreme god Odin. Its other name is Donnerkraut, that is, the grass of thunder and, according to legend, elecampane had to be collected in bad weather before the first thunder. In the Catholic tradition, this plant was taken along with other medicinal herbs (arnica, chamomile, calendula, sage, wormwood, yarrow) brings to the church on the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (August 15).

Albert Magnus (1193-1280) recommended this plant as an integral part of love drinks and this can be explained by the general strengthening effect of elecampane preparations.

According to old Russian beliefs, it has nine magical powers, hence the Russian name. Suvorov ordered to give the soldiers a decoction of the roots when crossing the Alps to maintain strength. In ancient Tajik medicine, elecampane was believed to improve mood, strengthen the heart and enhance potency. Infusion of flowers before and after the feast supposedly saves from intoxication. As it turned out, this opinion is quite justified, but more on that later.

The medicinal raw material of elecampane is the roots, which begin to be dug up from the fall of the second year of life. From my own experience, I advise you to dig them in the second year not all in a row, but as if thinning the crops. Thus, space is made for the growth of the remaining roots in the third year. You can dig up the roots in early spring, before the plants start growing, and given that this happens relatively late - in the Moscow region, for example, at the end of the first or beginning of the second decade of May, there is quite a lot of time for this. In addition, in spring it is very convenient to separate the upper part of the root with the rhizome and small adventitious roots and plant it back into the ground, and use the rest of the roots for raw materials. The yield of two-year crops is about 3 kg / m2, three-year crops - up to 6 kg / m2.

The roots are immediately cleaned of the earth and washed with cold water. It is desirable to cut them smaller at once, because it is rather problematic to crush them in dry form. It is better to dry them somewhere in the attic. In a hot oven or stove, essential oil evaporates strongly and they lose their characteristic smell and useful properties.

In 1804, the pharmacist Rose received a substance from the roots of this plant, which he named after the Latin name of the plant - inulin, although nowadays it is more often associated with Jerusalem artichoke.


The roots of elecampane contain up to 40% inulin, resin, pectin, wax, alkaloids and essential oil 1-5.7%, which contains up to 60 components, including sesquiterpene lactones (antolactone, isoalantolactone), which have a bitter taste, and also azulene, camphor, sesquiterpenoids, triterpenes, polyenes, stigmasterol, β-sitostrol, saponins, higher aliphatic hydrocarbons are also contained.


The aerial part contains sesquiterpenoids, alkaloids, phenol carboxylic acids (salicylic, n-hydroxybenzoic, procatech, vanillin, lilac, n-cumaric, etc.), coumarins, flavonoids.


Elecampane high (Inula helenium)

Scientific medicine uses it primarily as an expectorant for coughs. Alantolactone has a wide spectrum of pharmacological activity, primarily anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. In experiments invitro and invivo triterpene lactones showed anticarcinogenic as well as antifungal effects.

The expectorant effect of plants is manifested in facilitating the separation of phlegm, the plant has an expectorant, diuretic, antimicrobial, antihelminthic effect. Antimicrobial action noted against Mycobacteriumtuberculosis (invitro), moderate antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcusaureus, Enterococcusfaecalis, Escherichiacoli, Pseudomonasaeruguinosa and antifungal against Candidaalbicans... Together with thyme and calamus, it is used for lamblia.

It is especially effective for chronic cough in smokers, the elderly and patients with chronic bronchitis, pulmonary emphysema. In some publications there is information that with long-term use, it is effective in asthmatic bronchitis, however, given that it can be an allergen, this recommendation can be followed with great care.


With pneumonia Pour 2 teaspoons of elecampane roots with 0.5 liters of hot water and leave for 30 minutes, drain the infusion, heat again until it boils, add 100 g of hot milk. Take 1 / 2-1 / 3 cup several times a day, adding 1 teaspoon of honey and melted goat lard or butter to each serving.

In addition, a choleretic and digestion stimulating effect has been established, well, in fact, with such a bitter taste, this is quite predictable.

Traditional medicine uses it more widely and not only roots, but also leaves and inflorescences. Tibetan medicine uses the aerial part of the plant for angina, diphtheria, various gastrointestinal diseases. Inflorescences are used for pneumonia, as a hemostatic and wound healing agent. They are part of complex formulations that are used for rheumatism, atherosclerosis, gout. Many authors mention the hemostatic effect of elecampane and it is recommended externally for trophic ulcers, for washing wounds, in some cases with eczema. Avicenna recommended it for skin itching, neurodermatitis. But, given the high allergenicity of the plant, this recommendation should be treated with caution.

In Bulgaria, an alcoholic extract of the root is used for heartbeat and epilepsy.

In our folk medicine, elecampane is used for whooping cough, as an antihelminthic, hemostatic, improving appetite and metabolism.

Due to the inulin content, elecampane is used with diabetes... There is the following recipe: 5 tablespoons of elecampane pour 1 liter of boiling water, boil in a water bath for 10 minutes, then add 2 tablespoons of beans and heat for another 10 minutes. Add another 1 liter of boiling water and leave for 3 hours. Strain, drink 200 g 5-6 times a day 4-5 days a week.

In Mongolia, inflorescences are used for polyarthritis and as an antiscorbutic agent, for headaches, and for cerebrovascular accidents.

Elecampane high (Inula helenium)

Infusion of the aerial part of the plant is used for renal and cholelithiasis, edema, erysipelas, and inflammatory diseases of the oral mucosa. A decoction of the aerial part is used for boils, wounds and ulcers that do not heal for a long time. The seeds are used as a tonic and tonic. In addition, they tend to enhance intestinal motility and work well for atonic constipation. Traditional medicine also uses seeds and leaves. Aboveground parts, or rather a tincture and a decoction from them, have an anti-stress effect and protect the body against the ingress of various toxic substances. In particular, an aqueous extract of flowers, taken before the administration of alcohol to mice, reduced the duration of alcoholic anesthesia, and in rats it reduced the severity of the narcotic effect of alcohol and its content in the blood.

Decoction of roots prepared from 1 tablespoon of crushed raw materials and a glass of boiling water, which is taken orally 1 tablespoon 3 times a day. The French recommend adding a spoonful of honey to the broth, believing that this enhances the expectorant effect.

Tincture of seeds prepared from an equal amount of seeds and 70% alcohol, insist for 3 weeks, filter and take 10-15 drops 3 times a day after meals as a peristalsis-enhancing agent.

And one more recipe that has been repeatedly tried on itself: 4 tablespoons of elecampane roots are poured with a bottle of red wine, preferably Cahors wine, previously brought to a boil and heated in a water bath for about 2 hours under a lid, then cooled and filtered. It is taken both as an expectorant and in asthenic conditions, 1 tablespoon 3 times a day before meals. It is especially good to take this drink in the spring, when the body is weakened and it seems that there is no strength left at all.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used for chest bruises, stitching pains in the side.

Elecampane is contraindicated in kidney disease, pregnancy and lactation.


Elecampane essential oil was used as an expectorant and antiseptic for diseases of the urinary tract. But then they stopped because of the high allergenicity. By the way, in general, elecampane raw materials, due to the content of sesquiterpene lactones, can cause contact allergies in the form of dermatitis. Scientists blame alantolactone for this, which can irritate mucous membranes and exacerbate the effects of other allergens..

Other medicinal types of elecampane


Other types are also used in medicine. In fact, there are quite a lot of elecampane. This genus has about 200 species and is represented by perennial, less often one- and two-year-old grasses. Elecampane are found in Europe, Asia and Africa.

In Russia, in addition to elecampane high, there are also elecampane british (InulabritannicaL.) and elecampane willow(Inula salicina L.).

But the nonsense is that elecampane British is used in traditional Chinese medicine called “xuanfuxua” and is native to China. It is a perennial 15-60 cm high, with pubescent leaves and stem. Baskets with a diameter of 3-5 cm in the apical inflorescences of few flowers or solitary. Flowers are harvested from him, which are cut as they bloom. They contain essential oil with sesquiterpene lactones (British), flavonoids (inulicin), diterpene glycosides. Flavonoids have marked antioxidant activity. Detailed studies have revealed that the flavonoids patuletin, nepetin and axillarin had the ability to prevent neuronal death in the culture of the cerebral cortex of rats under conditions of severe oxidative stress. The neuroprotective effect of these compounds is evident when applied both before and after stress. These flavonoids interfere with the decrease in the activity of the enzymes catalase, glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase, which are the antioxidant defense of the brain.

The triterpenoid taraxasteril acetate contained in the flowers has a pronounced hepatoprotective activity in acute hepatitis and autoimmune liver damage. Aqueous extracts of British elecampane flowers increased the survival rate of rats in case of poisoning.

Just like elecampane tall, flowers of this species increase the body's resistance to the harmful effects of alcohol, and also have a beneficial effect on diabetes. It is used for coughing, feeling of tightness in the chest, breathing difficult with an abundance of mucus.


Elecampane japanese(Inula japonica Thunb) - a perennial plant with a height of 20-100 cm is also found in China. And under the same name as in the previous species, flowers dried in the shade or in the sun are used. They contain a complex essential oil, dibutyl phthalate, flavonoids, taraxosterol acetate. Application is similar to the previous type. In Korea, elecampane flowers are used as a gastric and sputum-separating agent for gastritis, acute and chronic bronchitis. And a decoction of the herb is used for hemorrhoids in the form of microclysters


Elecampane brushy(Inula racemosa Hook f.) also native to China, Afghanistan and the Himalayas, it is a perennial plant 100-200 cm high and is used in traditional Chinese medicine under the name “Tumuxiang”, but is harvested from it.Contains essential oil, which includes sesquiterpenes (inulolide, dihydroinunolide, alantolactone, isoalantolactone. It is used similarly to elecampane high. In addition, it is used as an anti-ischemic agent, exhibits beta-blocker properties, and also has a hypoglycemic effect, which is probably associated with the presence It has been experimentally proven to have antiallergic effect in rats with type 1 hypersensitivity, and it is also a good detoxifier in case of poisoning.