Elecampane

Inula helenium

Life Cycle: Perennial
Family: Asteraceae

Overview

Description

This plant is native to Eurasia from Spain to Xinjiang Province in western China. The plant’s specific name, helenium, derives from Helen of Troy; elecampane is said to have sprung up from where her tears fell. It was sacred to the ancient Celts. Elecampane is a rather rigid herb, the stem of which attains a height of about 90–150 cm (35–59 in). The leaves are large and toothed, the lower ones stalked, the rest embracing the stem;

Parts Used 

Root

The elecampane root is rigid and thick, branching and mucilaginous with a bitter taste. It has a camphoraceous odour.  

Medicinal Uses 

Antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory expectorant, diaphoretic, antiseptic, and anticatarrhal.

Actions

Used for lung diseases including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and whooping cough. It is also used to prevent coughing caused by tuberculosis. Immune stimulant and respiratory tonic.

Indications

Elecampane is a tonifying herb often used for asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions.  

  • Effective for coughs, colds; tonifying the bronchial tubes and the lungs. It is gentle for children.
  • Helps expel excess mucus; antibacterial.
  • The roots and rhizomes have potent healing, antiseptic and relaxant properties

Dosage

  • Infusion/Tea: 1.5–4 grams of Dried elecampane per day
  • Tincture:  1-4 ml three times per day

Safety

  • Large amounts of elecampane can cause vomiting, diarrhea, spasms, and paralysi
  • Do not take elecampane if  pregnant or breast-feeding. 

Cultivation

Growing Conditions 

  • Needs full sun to part shade.
  • Can grow in a variety of types of soil but needs to be well drained.
  • Blooms from summer to fall.
  • Easy to grow from root cuttings.

Propagation

Best to propagate from cuttings in Autumn or Spring 

Planting

Direct Cutting

  1. Cut around 2 inches from a viable root.
  2. Take root cutting and put one foot under the soil. 
  3. Plant cuttings 10 inches apart in rows. 
  4. Keep plant weeded and watered until time to harvest.

Companion Plants: Provide shade for lower growing mints. 

Pests

No serious pest or disease problems. 

Harvest

Harvesting Tools 

  • Collection receptacle; wicker, cloth, or paper which breathes so that the herbs do not grow mold.  
  • Scissors
  • Hand sanitizer  
  • A small stool or sitting mat may be helpful when harvesting for a long period of time.

Harvesting Procedure 

Harvest the roots mid to late October and even into early November. It is best to harvest 2 year old roots

  1. Sanitize hands and equipment
  2. Relax and direct generative thoughts toward the plants
  3. Use a shovel to dig the roots that you start about 8 inches away from the crown and point the blade tip straight down into the ground.
  4. Gently work the soil to loosen the root.
  5. Once root has popped out, shake excess dirt off and place in basket
  6. Repeat this process for remaining roots.

Drying & Production

Tincture

Dried Plants: 1 part dry weight (grams) to 5 part liquid volume (ml)

Fresh Plants: 1 part dry weight (grams) to 2 parts liquid volume (ml)

Items for Production    

  • Disposable Vinyl gloves
  • Alcohol 80 proof or higher
  • Batch jars: 1 gallon wide mouth glass jars with lids 
  • Scale
  • Tincture press
  • Food processor or blender
  • Cheesecloth or Press filter bags

Procedure 

  1. Put on a pair of disposable vinyl gloves.
  2. Weigh the materials and document the weight.
  3.  Fill the jar up to its shoulder with Elecampane
  4. Fill with alcohol to completely cover plant material.
  5. Place the lid on the jar and store in a cool dark place.
  6. Let the jar sit for 6 weeks or more.
  7. Shake jars up periodically during that time.
  8. After this point the tincture is stabilized and can be used as needed.
  9. Drain off the liquid into another batch container.
  10. Place the dregs into a cheesecloth pouch or tincture press filter bags.
  11. Use the tincture press to press the remaining liquid out of the dregs.
  12. Press hard enough to retrieve all of the liquid.
  13. For internal consumption the menstruum should be 100-140 proof alcohol which is 50-70% alcohol
  14. Measure and document the yield.
  15. The tincture may be stored in batches or decanted into dropper bottles for distribution.

Dried Elecampane Tea

Items for Production

  • Disposable vinyl gloves
  • Clean water
  • Washing vats
  • Colander
  • Plant Dehydrator
  • Food processor or blender
  • Storage bags

Procedure

  1. Put on a pair of disposable vinyl gloves.
  2. Weigh fresh elecampane to be used and document the weight.
  3. Place the plant material in a large container of clean room temperature water.
  4. Agitate gently to remove insects, soil foreign plant material etc.
  5. Repeat this procedure again.
  6. Rinse well.
  7. Place plant material in a colander over the sink to drain excess water
  8. Shake colander to promote drainage.
  9. Allow to sit until heavy dripping is subsided.
  10. Spread the plant material  evenly across dehydrator trays so that there is even airflow.
  11. Stack trays into the dehydrator.
  12. Set dehydrator to 100°.
  13. Set the timer to 48 hours.
  14. At the end of the cycle check to see if flower material is fully dried.
  15. If not dried to your satisfaction set timer for another 48 hours.
  16. Dried plant material can now be placed in the vita mix food processor in small amounts.
  17. Use the pulse setting to mill the plant material down to the desired size for bulk tea
  18. If powder is desired the vita mix will be run for the amount of time it takes to break plant material into the appropriate powder.
  19. Upon completion place the dried plant material in tightly sealed storage bags or containers.
  20. Weigh the yield and document the weight.
  21. Carefully label the storage bags or containers with plant name, weight, source, and the date.
  22. Store in a dark dry place.