Scientific name: Inula helenium

Common names: Elfwort, Horse Elder, Horseheal, Scabwort, Inula, Inul, Elf Dock, Yellow Starwort, Velvet Dock, Wild Sunflower

Ayurvedic names: Pushkaraula

Chinese names: tu mu xiang, Chin-ch’ien-hua

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    القسط الشامي (al qiset ash-shaami)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Compositae

Approximate number of species known: Inula helenium L. – elecampane inula 

Common parts used: Root

Collection:  The root of the plant should  be used when three years old or less.  Ideally the root is collected in Autumn in the second year, the dirt removed and it is cut and dried in shade.

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 4 to 8 feet

Actions: Expectorant, anti-tussive, diaphoretic, stomachic, anti-microbial, astrigent, anti-catarrhal, aromatic, emollient, hepatic, pectoral, stomachic, tonic, vulnerary

Known Constituents: 40% inulin, helenin (a steroptene – non water soluble – ethanol solube), mucilage, triterpenes, bitters, essential oil including lactones (alantolalactone) resin, mucilage

Bactericidal; antitussive; expectorant; tonic; weak cholagogue. 

Constituents Explained:


Grows in Great Britain, Central and Southern Europe and Asia.  The latin name comes from the legend that the plant grew where Helen of Troy’s tears fell.

It has a fairly stiff stem covered with hair.

The large leaves are alternate, elliptical ([picture???) have teeth down the outside.  The leaves grow 45cm long, and 15cm wide. The leaves feel hairy on top, and smooth underneath.

The yellow flowers are 2 inches wide.

The root is thick and contains mucilage.  It has a bitter taste and an odour vaguely similar to camphor.

Traditional Use:

A commonly added ingredient to respiratory formulas, its used primarily in cases of coughs and chest infections, especially because of its anti-cattarhal action.   

Before antibiotics, it was one of the main preparations used in cases of tuberculosis.

It is used as a tonic for the digestive system, including action against intestinal parasites and worms.  Its sometimes used for fluid retention, kidney stones and to bring on overdue menstruation.1 It has been claimed that components of the herb can kill Staphyloccus, and other bacteria.

Clinical Studies:

A study investigated the bactericidal activity (specifically antistaphylococcal) of Inula helenium. The antimicrobial activity of the extract is tested against 200 clinically significant Irish Staphylococcus aureus isolates consisting of methicillin-resistant (MRSA) and -sensitive (MSSA) S. aureus using a drop test method and a microbroth dilution method. 

The antibacterial effect is evaluated by measuring the area of the inhibition zone against the isolates. Results proved I. helenium to be 100% effective against the 200 staphylococci tested, with 93% of isolates falling within the ++ and +++ groups. 

The minimum bactericidal concentration of I. helenium was examined on a subset of isolates and values ranged from 0.9 mg/mL to 9.0 mg/mL. The extract was equally effective against antibiotic-resistant and -sensitive strains.

This plant therefore possesses compounds with potent antistaphylococcal properties, which in the future could be used to complement infection control policies and prevent staphylococcal infection and carriage. 


O’Shea S, Lucey B, Cotter L. “In Vitro Activity Of Inula Helenium Against Staphylococcus Aureus Strains Including MRSA.” 2009.



Herb Name: Elecampane

Other names: Horseheal. Velvet Dock. Scabwort. Elf Dock. Wild Sunflower.

Latin name: Inula Helenium

Family: N.O. Compositae

Common part used: Root.

Elecampane is a perennial plant that is spread throughout the middle and south of Europe and through Asia to the Himalayas. It is cultivated in the USA, and is completely adapted to the habitats and climates of the eastern United States. It even grows wild in America, and is to be found at the sides of roads and in pastoral meadows.

The plant’s Latin name Helenium comes from an ancient legend that stated that the plant grew upon the spot that Helen of Troy’s tears fell.

The plant itself can grow to a height of between a meter and a meter and a half. It’s stem is thick, with deep furrows, and branched at the top. The entire plant is covered with down, and it has large leaves radially situated – the leaves can be from 30 to 40 centimeters long. This plants has yellow flowers a few centimeters across. It’s root is thick proportional to the stem, and well branched.

The blossoming period of Elecampane lies between June and August. The flowers grow on long stalks. The fruit is a quadrangle and has a ring of reddish hair on top.

Elecampane is well known on the continent due to it’s use in the popular production of absinthe, generally in Switzerland and France. However, in recent years modern medicine has begun to research the possible antibiotic properties of the herb itself – for example, extracts of Elecampane are known to kill Staphylococcus Aureus and other bacteria – this is invaluable in a world where many disease strains are proving increasingly resistant to conventional or standard antibiotics.

Herb Name: Elecampane

Others names: Horse-heal, Marchalan

Latin name: Inula helenium

Family: Asteraceae

Common part used: Leaves, Root

Description: Elecampane is a rigid herb with a thick branching root, tall stem, large and toothed leaves, and broad yellow flowers.

Properties: Elecampane is an herb that is used in herbal medicine to treat coughs, pulmonary tuberculosis, bronchitis, various chest problems, and digestive system disorders. Elecampane is a warming herb. Its properties include: alterative, antiseptic, anthelmintic, astringent, antitussive, bitter, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, diaphoretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, and tonic.

Contents: It contains inulin, helenin, and alantolactone.

Internal use: Elecampane removes toxins, boosts the immune system, improves digestion, and treats fungal and bacterial infections. An extract of Elecampane is a potent antiseptic and bactericide. The root is strongly anthelmintic (kills parasitic worms). Elecampane has anti-inflammatory effects; and is known to reduce mucous secretions.

External use: Externally, the plant can be used as a wash for varicose ulcers and skin inflammations.

Essential oil and aromatherapy use: The camphor scented essential oil extracted from the root is used medicinally and as a flavoring.

Safety precautions: Pregnant women are advised not to use this remedy. External use may cause allergic reactions.