Monday, May 19, 2008

Materia Medica: Inula helenium

Name: Elecampane

Inula helenium









Warm, Dry

Mucus membranes (respiratory, gut, uterine, urinary)

Uses: Chronic catarrh, catarrhal dyspepsia, asthma (humid), stimulant expectorant, hepatic disorders (torpor), dysmennorhea, endometriosis, persistent cough with pain beneath sternum, tuberculosis?, atonic dyspepsia, diarrhea, intestinal dysbiosis

Personal Experiences: Increased production of mucus in the respiratory tract, the warm tea created a sensation of wanting to clear my throat. Warm tea seemed more diuretic to me, as opposed to diaphoretic.

In the morning after a tea of Inula and Trifolium I spit up a lot of mucus and had to blow my nose quite a lot as well. There were flecks of blood in the mucus. Good balanced pair as far as energetics, definitely directed toward the lungs.

Taking it with marrubium (both in tincture form in water) really made my stomach hurt. Like, gas, but without release. I’ve never really liked Horehound. And it’s a bit perplexing to me as to why the two would hurt my stomach. Inula alone does not do that.

I took some with Burdock as a decoction, and liked how the burdock sweetened it. I think the two together are a nice balancing pair, burdock(root) being cool, and slightly moist/demulcent and relaxant, while Inula is warm and dry and somewhat stimulating. Especially good for the gut, and the lymphatics. It feels nourishing to me.

I think combining Inula, burdock and trifolium might be a nice triplet or formula for digestive/gut trouble with lymphatic, nutritive, and alterative properties.

By the end of the week I also noticed a little bit of a recurring symptom I get in my chest. I once had chostochondritis, and then a bout of what I think was pleurisy, but every now and then I get a little pain in my chest when breathing, like a bit of inflammation kicks up. I wonder if the elecampane stimulated the tissue too much?

My experience vs. traditional sources

I think my experience with Inula corrobates with the traditional actions, but it doesn’t seem to stimulate my pulse very dramatically. It does stimulate my digestive secretions (can we say saliva!) fairly strongly. It also seemed much more diuretic than diaphoretic to me. I didn’t drag out my thermometer, but might try that with other diaphoretic herbs


Inula, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Asclepias tuberosa

(pulmonary inflammation, catarrh, chest soreness and cough)

Inula, Marribum (cough, cold, bronchitis, catarrh)

Inula, Symphytum (chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis)

Inula, Trifolium (pertussis)

Inula, Tussilago, Verbascum (chronic pulmonary conditions)

Inula, Matricaria, Caulophyllum (uterine languor)

Inula, Sambucus (stagnant, tense, congestion or edema in lung or digestive tissue)

Inula, Prunus, Lobelia (persistent, unproductive moist cough, w/irritated tissues, red face) I really like Prunus and Lobelia together for spasmodic coughs where the face turns red from the effort, and the stomach muscles are sore from so much effort during coughing. I think pairing them with Inula would be most useful for a spasmodic cough where mucus is old and stuck, and needs to be thinned and expectorated. I would hope the relaxing, antispasmodic prunus/lobelia would balance too much stimulation from Inula leading to excessive effort to cough/expectorate.

Inula, Glycirrhiza (irritated cough, bronchitis. Especially with dry climate or presentation) Nice combination of expectorants both stimulating and relaxing. This would be a nice pair to tone down the irritating, drying stimulant properties of Inula, especially in a dry climate.

Inula, Articum (digestive system dysbiosis, digestive system stagnation with skin eruptions) This is a nice balance between warm and cool, and stimulant and relaxant herbs. The burdock also would help direct the elecampane toward the digestive system and skin, rather than the lungs.

3 Formulas:






This formula would be for a patient with digestive system weakness, debility and congestion. Likely there will be dysbiosis from antibiotic use, and constipation and probable skin eruptions (acne, eczema etc).







This formula is for someone with long term/chronic respiratory conditions, possibly asthma or chronic bronchitis who needs gentle stimulation and support without aggravation of the condition.



Eupatorium perfoliatum

Asclepias tuberosa



This formula is for an active, acute respiratory infections, perhaps influenza with fever, or other infection, (pneumonia, plueritis) with some amount of stuck mucus. This will help relax respiratory tissues, stimulate fresh, moist mucus production and assist in fever management. A lot of synergistic pairs here, Inula/Sambucus, Inula/Eupatorium/Asclepias, Monarda/Sambucus

Action Formula:



Eupatorium perfoliatum

Asclepias tuberosa



Tissues: mucus membranes, skin, lymphatic, nerves, capillaries, serous


Warm Inula, Sambucus, Monarda

Cool Eupatorium, Asclepias, Althea, Sambucus

Moist Althea

Dry Inula, Sambucus, Eupatorium, Asclepias, Monarda

Effects on Mucus Membranes:

Stimulant Inula,Eupatorium, Monarda

Relaxant Sambucus, Eupatorium, Asclepias, Monarda

Expectorant Inula

Aromatic Monarda, Inula

Antiseptic Monarda

Tonic Inula, Eupatorium

Antispasmodic Eupatorium, Monarda, Althea

Effects on Skin/Capillaries

Stimulant Sambucus, monarda, Asclepias

Diffusive Sambucus, Asclepias, Monarda

Diuretic Inula, Sambucus, Althea

Diaphoretic Inula, Sambucus, Ascelpias, Monarda

Relaxant Sambucus, Eupatorium, Asclepias, Monarda

Effects on Nervous System

Relaxant Sambucus, Eupatorium, Asclepias

Antispasmodic Eupatorium, Monarda, Althea

Effects on Lymphatic System

Alterative Sambucus, Eupatorium

Stimulant Eupatorium


jim mcdonald said...

Matthew Wood considers inula specific for deep seated infections with stuck green mucous.

I find the tincture (mine made from the freshly dried root) ~very~ drying to the lungs.

s*kate said...

hi jim, would fresh plant tincture make a somewhat less drying remedy than drying the root first?

sapphire kate.

"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~