Elecampane (Inula helenium)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Alant, alant camphor, alantolactone, alantopicrin, Asteraceae (family), Aster helenium (L.) Scop., Aster officinalis All., Compositae (family), dammaradienol, dammaradienyl acetate, elecampane, elecampane camphor, elfwort, eudesmanes, eudesmanolides, friedelin, germacrane, helenin, helenin camphor, Helenium grandiflorum Gilib., horseheal, inula, Inula campana, inula camphor, Inula helenium, Inula racemosa, inulin, isoalantolactone, isocostunolide, mucilage, scabwort, sesquiterpenes, sitosterols, stigmasterol, thymol derivatives, yellow starwort.
Elecampane is a tall wildflower with oversized pointed leaves and yellow to orange daisy-like flowers. Elecampane is a natural source of food flavoring in Europe and is approved for use in alcoholic beverages in the United States.
Traditionally, elecampane is used as an antifungal, antiparasitic, and general antimicrobial agent, as well as an expectorant for coughs, colds, and bronchial ailments. At this time, there is a lack of evidence from randomized, controlled trials to support these uses.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Angina pectoris (chest pain), antibiotic, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiparasitic (roundworm, threadworm, hookworm, whipworm), antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, boils, bronchial congestion, bronchitis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, colds, cough, decongestant/expectorant, diabetes, digestive tonic, headaches, hypertension (high blood pressure), hypnotic/sleep (aromatherapy), hypoxia (low oxygen levels), immunostimulant, irritable bowel syndrome, laxative, muscle tension, myocardial infarction (heart attack), pain (various causes), pruritus (itchy skin), sedative, skin conditions, stress, tuberculosis.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (over 18 years old)
Secondary sources suggest 1.5-4 grams rhizome/root in capsule form or as a decoction, three times daily, or 300 milligrams alantolactone daily for two courses of five days with an interval of 10 days.
Secondary sources suggest 15-25 drops of tinctured elecampane root daily.
Children (under 18 years old)
Secondary sources suggest 50-200 milligrams alantolactone daily for two courses of five days with an interval of 10 days.
Secondary sources suggest 7-12 drops of tinctured elecampane root daily.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to elecampane or members of the Compositae/Asteraceae family such as dandelion, goldenrod, ragweed, sunflower, and daisies.
Five cases of occupational allergic contact dermatitis caused by the Compositae family were diagnosed in a 14-year period. Elecampane was one of four plants indicated in the five cases.
Side Effects and Warnings
There is inadequate available information regarding adverse effects associated with elecampane. Contact allergic dermatitis is the most commonly reported adverse event.
Use cautiously in patients using glucose-modifying agents due to potential for additive or opposite effects.
Use cautiously in patients using blood pressure-altering agents, anticancer agents, heart agents, laxatives, muscle relaxants, or sedatives, due to potential for additive effects.
Avoid in patients with allergies to the Compositae/Asteraceae family such as dandelion, goldenrod, ragweed, sunflower, and daisies.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Elecampane is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Traditionally, elecampane has been added to white wine for the treatment of bronchitis. Use cautiously with alcohol.
Elecampane may have moderate antibacterial activity. Use cautiously with antibiotics, due to possible additive effects.
Elecampane may alter blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medication that may also alter blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare provider. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Elecampane may have moderate antifungal and antiparasitic activity; use cautiously.
Elecampane may have additive effects with other blood pressure-altering agents, anticancer agents, and laxative agents in humans; use cautiously.
Elecampane may have antioxidant properties.
Elecampane may have additive effects with agents that induce muscle relaxation. Use cautiously with antispasmodic medications. Elecampane may have additive effects with cardiac agents in humans. Use cautiously with heart medications.
Elecampane may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbituates such as Phenobarbital, narcotics such as caffeine, some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements
Elecampane may have moderate antibacterial activity, antifungal activity, anticancer activity, antioxidant properties, and antiparasitic activity. Use cautiously with herbs and supplements with similar effects.
Elecampane may have additive effects with agents that induce muscle relaxation; use cautiously with herbs with such activity.
Elecampane may have additive effects with cardiac agents in humans. Use cautiously with herbs and supplements taken for the heart.
Echinacea and osha (Ligusticum porteri) root have been used in combination with elecampane for respiratory ailments. Use cautiously.
There is a potential for additive effects between elecampane and ginger as laxative agents in humans. There is also a potential for additive effects between elecampane and ginger as anti-cancer agents in humans.
Elecampane may alter blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also alter blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Elecampane may have additive effects with other blood pressure-altering herbs and supplements in humans; use cautiously.
Use cautiously with herbs and supplements with laxative effects, those taken for respiratory ailments.
Elecampane may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs and supplements. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Al Gammal SY. Elecampane and Job's disease. Bull Indian Inst.Hist Med Hyderabad. 1998;28(1):7-11. View Abstract
Cantrell CL, Abate L, Fronczek FR, et al. Antimycobacterial eudesmanolides from Inula helenium and Rudbeckia subtomentosa. Planta Med 1999;65(4):351-355. View Abstract
Chen CN, Huang HH, Wu CL, et al. Isocostunolide, a sesquiterpene lactone, induces mitochondrial membrane depolarization and caspase-dependent apoptosis in human melanoma cells. Cancer Lett 2-8-2007;246(1-2):237-252. View Abstract
Dorn DC, Alexenizer M, Hengstler JG, et al. Tumor cell specific toxicity of Inula helenium extracts. Phytother Res 2006;20(11):970-980. View Abstract
El Garhy MF, Mahmoud LH. Anthelminthic efficacy of traditional herbs on Ascaris lumbricoides. J Egypt.Soc Parasitol. 2002;32(3):893-900. View Abstract
Hofbauer S, Kainz V, Golser L, et al. Antiproliferative properties of Padma Lax and its components ginger and elecampane. Forsch.Komplementarmed. 2006;13 Suppl 1:18-22. View Abstract
Konishi T, Shimada Y, Nagao T, et al. Antiproliferative sesquiterpene lactones from the roots of Inula helenium. Biol.Pharm.Bull. 2002;25(10):1370-1372. View Abstract
Nesterova IuV, Zelenskaia KL, Vetoshkina TV, et al. [Mechanisms of antistressor activity of Inula helenium preparations]. Eksp.Klin.Farmakol. 2003;66(4):63-65. View Abstract
Paulsen E. Contact sensitization from Compositae-containing herbal remedies and cosmetics. Contact Dermatitis 2002;47(4):189-198. View Abstract
Paulsen E, Andersen KE, Hausen BM. Sensitization and cross-reaction patterns in Danish Compositae-allergic patients. Contact Dermatitis 2001;45(4):197-204. View Abstract
Spiridonov NA, Konovalov DA, Arkhipov VV. Cytotoxicity of some Russian ethnomedicinal plants and plant compounds. Phytother Res 2005;19(5):428-432. View Abstract
Stojakowska A, Kedzia B, Kisiel W. Antimicrobial activity of 10-isobutyryloxy-8,9-epoxythymol isobutyrate. Fitoterapia 2005;76(7-8):687-690. View Abstract
Stojakowska A, Malarz J, Kisiel W. Thymol derivatives from a root culture of Inula helenium. Z.Naturforsch.[C.] 2004;59(7-8):606-608. View Abstract
Stojakowska A, Michalska K, Malarz J. Simultaneous quantification of eudesmanolides and thymol derivatives from tissues of Inula helenium and I. royleana by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Phytochem.Anal. 2006;17(3):157-161. View Abstract
Zelenskaya KL, Povet'eva TN, Pashinskii VG, et al. Stress-inducing effect of hypoxia of different origin and its correction with Inula Helenium L. tincture. Bull Exp.Biol.Med 2005;139(4):414-417. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017