Inula Helenium

The whole plant is downy and grows stout and erect to 1.50m (4-5ft), in height. The leaves are large, ovate and pointed, velvety underneath with toothed margins.Those on the stem become shorter and broader. The bright yellow flowers in large terminal heads on long stalks resemble a sunflower. After the flowers have fallen the fruit becomes visible, quadrangular in shape and crowned by a ring of reddish hairs. The perennial root is large and succulent, spindle in shape, brown in colour and aromatic.

Family: Asteraceae

Which probiotic is it in?: Elecampane is a key herb in Bio-Live Breathe.

Habit and cultivation: Now growing in many temperate regions of the world, it is native to South-Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Cultivated and propagated from seed in spring or root division, it thrives well in moist, well drained ground. The root is dug up in autumn, cut up, and dried at high temperatures.

Actions (known for): Stimulating expectorant-sesquiterpene lactones, diaphoretic, warming, anti-tussive, anti-bacterial, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic to the respiratory tract and digestive tonic. The individual constituents of Inula the lactones are antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal (in vitro). They are considered to have both anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant properties.


An Ancient Greek myth tells that elecampane sprouted from the tears shed by Helen of Troy after she was abducted by Paris from Spartika. It was sacred to the Ancient Celts and has always been associated with elves and fairy folk. Nicholas Culpeper associated elecampane as being ruled by Mercury and recommended it to warm a cold and windy stomach, resist poison, strengthen sight and clear internal blockages.

Parts used:

Rhizome and root, gathered early autumn or early spring after second year’s growth.

Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Root: Mucilage, 18-35% miscellaneous, approx 35% pectin, 1-2% sparagine tannins.

Nutritional constituents:

Minerals: calcium, potassium and sodium.


Asthma and bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, cough associated with TB, useful for congestive conditions in children, emphysema and to support a debilitated constitution and digestion.


Decoction of dried root 1.5-4g daily. Fluid extract 1-2ml 3 x daily.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Cautions for therapeutic doses

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