Can be found in our Heart Mate product.

Herbal Medicine Materia Medica: Elacampane

David Hoffmann L. BSc (Hons), MNIMH ©


Inula helenium


Names: Yellow Starwort

Habitat: Indigenous to Europe and temperate Asia, naturalized in the USA, and cultivated widely in Europe and also China.

Collection: The rhizome should be unearthed between September and October. The large pieces should be cut before drying in the sun or artificially at a temperature of 50-70 degrees C.

Part Used: Rhizome


  • Volatile oil, containing sesquiterpene lactones, main lyalamtolactone (= helenalin or elecampane camphor), isoalantolactone and their dihydro derivatives, alantic acid and azulene
  • Inulin;
  • Miscellaneous; sterols, resin etc.


Actions: Expectorant, anti-tussive, diaphoretic, hepatic, anti-microbial.

Indications: Elecampane is a specific for irritating bronchial coughs, especially in children. It may be used wherever there is copious catarrh formed e.g. in bronchitis or emphysema. This remedy shows the complex and integrated ways in which herbs work. The mucilage has are laxing effect accompanied by the stimulation of the essential oils. In this way expectoration is accompanied by a soothing action which in this herb is combined with an anti-bacterial effect. It may be used in asthma and bronchitic asthma. Elecampane has been used in the treatment of tuberculosis. The bitter principle makes it useful also to stimulate digestion and appetite.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "gently stimulating tonic expectorant for chronic catarrhal conditions: warming, strengthening and cleansing to pulmonary mucous membranes. Indicated for chronic pectoral states with excessive catarrhal expectoration and/or a tubercular diathesis." They give the following specific indications: Bronchial and gastric catarrh, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, pertussis, emphysematous conditions, chronic cough in the elderly.

Ellingwood considered it to specifically "act directly upon the nutritive functions of the body. In general debility from protracted disease or from overwork, or from age, its influence is plainly apparent. It imparts tone to the digestive and respiratory organs and to the urinary tract." In addition he recommends it for the following patholgies: atonic conditions, night sweats, pulmonary tuberculosis, irritating cough, catarrhal discharges.

Kings' describes it thus: "Elecampane is an aromatic stimulant and tonic and is said to be expectorant, emmenagogue, diuretic, and diaphoretic. It is much used in chronic pulmonary affections, weakness of the digestive organs, hepatic torpor, atonic dyspepsia, with flatus, and internally and externally in tetter, itch, and other cutaneous diseases. The alcoholic extract, combined with powdered extract of Liquorice, Benzoic acid, Sanguinaria and morphine, forms a lozenge or pill very valuable in chronic catarrhal, bronchial, and all pulmonary irritations. One drop of the oil of Stillingia may be added to eachlozenge for bronchial and laryngeal affections. Night-sweats are relieved by Inula, as are some cases of humid asthma, and by its tonic properties, it tends to sustain the strength of the patient in chronic disorders of the respiratory tract. Helenin is accredited with a fatal action upon the tubercle bacillus. Inula is somewhat slow in action, and should be used for quite a time to get its full action. That it is an important remedy in irritation of the trachea and bronchiae is now well established. It is adapted to cases with free and abundant expectoration, teasing cough and pain beneath the sternum, conditions frequent in la grippe and the severer forms of colds.”