Elecampane, Inula helenium, is usually thought of for acute and chronic coughing with green mucous, however it also stimulates digestion with its bitter flavor and is a powerful antiseptic for wounds. Inula is also known for being a vermicide for intestinal parasites. All in all, Elecampane is a strong herbal ally for you and your horse to have on hand.
Elecampane is a beautiful statuesque plant, reaching heights of up to 5 feet, with bright yellow flowers that are 3 to 4 inches in diameter. The ovate pointed leaves can be a foot long and 4 inches in width. Such a fun plant to grow in the herb garden with many common names including horse heal, false sunflower, elf dock and scabwort. The part used for medicinal value is the root which is harvested in the fall. The roots have an aromatic bitter flavor and a warming drying stimulating energy. Elecampane is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, expectorant, vermicide, antioxidant, restorative and in the form of hot tea can be diaphoretic.
A common name for Elecampane is horse heal because it was used for healing lung aliments in horses. This herb is often used for persistent damp coughs, with yellow green mucous, and acute or chronic coughing. Long term use of elecampane is associated with supporting and strengthening the lungs.
Antibacterial for Wounds
Traditionally, elecampane was used for dressing wounds to prevent infection. Another common name for elecampane is scabwort, because it promotes a scab to form and reduces proud flesh. An in vitro study showed I helenium to be effective against 200 staphylococci, including MRSA strains (O’Shea, S. 2009) validating this traditional use of the herb. The ground powdered root can be applied topically as a poultice to promote healing.
The roots of elecampane have a bitter flavor that stimulate digestion and long-term use can strengthen the immune system. Elecampane has a high content of inulin that is a prebiotic supporting growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Lymphatic stagnation is improved with the use of elecampane as it has an affinity to move out old stuck phlegm and improve absorption of nutrients in the GI tract.
Elecampane is added to many herbal blends for its vermicide actions against intestinal parasites such as amoebas like giardia, protozoa, pathogenic bacteria, and pinworms.
As a member of the sunflower family, Elecampane bring sunlight and nourishing support to your horses, helping them to overcome long held grief or fear.
Not common, but caution should be used when applying topically as sensitive horses could have an allergic reaction to elecampane.
Elecampane works best in small doses as large doses can cause stomach cramping or diarrhea.
Some controversy surrounds elecampane being unsafe during pregnancy, but some sources suggest it was traditionally used to prevent miscarriages.
½ - 1 tsp of dried powdered elecampane root can be given up to 4 times daily.
In tincture form 1-4ml can be given up to 4 times daily.
Always start with the smallest dose and work up to the larger dose if needed.
Supportive Herbal Ally
Elecampane would be a wonderful plant ally to include in your herbal garden. Experience the joyful strength and energy it brings to you and your horses.
O’Shea, S., Lucey B., Cotter L., In vitro activity of Inula helenium against clinical Staphylococcus aureus strains including MRSA, Br J Biomed Sci, 2009;66(4):186-9