Common Names: Scabwort, Elf dock, Horseheal
Botanical Name: Inula helenium
Plant Family: Asteraceae, Composite Family
Parts Used: Root
Actions: Tonic, carminative, expectorant, diuretic, antiseptic, astringent, stimulant, vermifuge (Systems affected: Lungs, Spleen, Stomach)
Habitat: This large leaf plant grows well in full-partial sun within the garden. It can grow up to 8-10 ft. tall and puts on beautiful yellow blooming flowers. Occasionally I will see this plant growing along roadsides or at the edge of pastures, however, it is most commonly grown in gardens.
Collection: The roots grow deep and horizontally, so harvest accordingly. I prefer to harvest the roots in the Fall, however, if you miss that opportunity, harvest Elecampane roots in the early Spring before the plant puts energy into growing leaves.
Deep Lung & Coughs
Elecampane tightens and tones stagnant, damp tissues. It stimulates movement of secretions when everything feels stuck and thickening. Lets just say, Elecampane cuts through the crud. Deep lung congestion that sticks around and pools at the base of your airways can be removed with the help of Elecampane. Since the root is a stimulating expectorant it encourages the flow of mucus. For those who suffer from bronchitis or the lingering deep lung congestion & cough (a common issue west of the Cascades), elecampane helps release the stagnant, stuck mucus, replacing it with healthy mucus and also fighting further bacteria outbreaks. Elecampane is antimicrobial, hence it helps kill any further infection.
Cough, lung congestion, swollen lymph nodes, post nasal drip… you name, elecampane stimulates flow; out with the bad, in with the good. The roots can be used for swollen lymph glands of the throat and also upper respiratory issues. It helps with sinus issues such as post nasal drip and congestion. Did I mention that elecampane can also help reduce symptoms of asthma? Yes, this stimulating expectorant helps damp respiratory issues.
Elecampane supports healthy gut flora through its warming, carminative properties. When harvesting a root take a deep breath. Smell the strong, bitter-sweet aromas of this root. Make a decoction with the dried root and taste the bitter yet sweet and pungent flavors in your cup. The high inulin content within elecampane (making for a sensory experience) passes through our upper GI tract to our colon where its utilized by our gut bacteria. This makes elecampane a “prebiotic” which supports and nourishes healthy gut flora. When a person is experiencing poor appetite, mucus in the digestive system excess gas and feelings of lethargy, elecampane can help our digestive system absorb nutrients and properly function. This not only helps with digestion, yet also immunity and over-all well-being.
The inulin content (not to be confused with insulin) is also helpful for people with diabetes of blood sugar issues. Inulin helps slow down sugar metabolism.
Preparations: Honey, Syrup, Tincture, Decoction, Powder
- Harvest fresh elecampane root.
- Chop up the root into full moon, half moon, or small chunky pieces.
- Fill a mason jar half-3/4 way with roots.
- Cover roots with honey, fill up to the top of the jar using a knife or chopstick to stir out any air bubbles from base of roots in the jar.
- Label with herb, honey, date and where it was harvested.
- Let sit for at least 4 weeks to infuse (ideally in a warm location).
- Warm honey up, strain elecampane root from honey OR keep the root in and eat it with the honey.
This honey is ideal for deep, congested lungs, coughs and sore throats. Keep stored out of sun for longer preservation (up to 1 year…)
The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants by Mathew Wood
“Making the Most of One Herb: Elecampane” by Lesley Tierra
Featured Herb: Elecampane by Rosalee de le Forêt