Inula helenium is a beautiful plant in the sunflower family. Elecampane is its common name, but its botanical name is said to be after Helen of Troy, the beauty that “launched a thousand ships” when she was stolen away by her love, Paris, starting the Trojan War. It is said that Helen was either carrying or wearing (depending on the account you believe), the flowers of elecampane, and when she was taken away, she dropped the flowers and they forever sprouted where she stood. Thus, the Latin name helenium.
Elecampane is a plant that has thousands of years of documented historical use, going back to ancient Greek and Roman times. It is native to Europe, Spain, and Asia and is naturalized throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Traditionally, the flowers and roots were both used for medicine, but modern herbalists tend to use just the root. This may be because flowers are best used fresh, not dried. This means an herbalist would have to grow or wild-harvest the plant to use them, and many herbalists today order dry herbs, instead of growing or harvesting them themselves.
In this issue, we will primarily discuss the roots, but we will also talk about the flowers a bit too, so that you may experiment with both. We will also discuss the medicinal uses, both commonly known and the more obscure, and how to prepare medicines from both the fresh and dry plant. I hope this aids you in your healing education and journey. How do you like to incorporate elecampane into your life?