Inula helenium. N.O. Compositae.
Synonym ► Aunee, Scabwort.
Habitat ► Moist meadows and pasture land.
Features ► The stem. growing up to three feet, is branched, furrowed, and downy above; egg-shaped, serrate leaves embrace the stem. The calyx is also egg-shaped and leafy, and the flowers, blooming in July and August, are large, solitary and terminal, brilliantly yellow in colour. The root is light grey, hard, horny and cylindrical. The whole plant is similar in appearance to the horseradish, its taste is bitter and acrid, and the odour reminiscent of camphor.
Part used ► Root.
Action ► Diaphoretic, expectorant and diuretic.
In combination with other remedies it is made up into cough medicines, and can be of service in pulmonary disorders generally. Skillfully compounded, slight alterative and tonic qualities are noticed. Wineglass doses are taken of a 1 ounce to 1 pint (reduced) decoction.
These modest present-day claims for Elecampane are far exceeded by Culpeper’s exuberance. In his view, the root “warms a cold and windy stomach or the pricking therein, and stitches in the side caused by the spleen; helps the cough, shortness of the breath, and wheezing of the lungs. . . . Profitable for those that have their urine stopped. . . . Resisteth poison, and stayeth the venom of serpents, as also of putrid and pestilential fevers, and the plague itself.” When we are also told by the same author that it kills and expels worms, fastens loose teeth, arrests dental decay, cleanses the skin from morphew, spots and blemishes, we realize in what esteem Elecampane was held in the seventeenth century! But here again germs of truth are hidden among manifold exaggerations.