Elecampane - Article Alant; Elf Dock; Elfwort; Horse-elder; Horseheal; Inula helenium; Scabwort; Velvet Dock; Wild Sunflower; Yellow Starwort
|Inula helenium |
Elecampane, also called Horse-heal (Inula helenium), is a perennial composite plant common in many parts of Great Britain, and ranges throughout central and Southern Europe, and in Asia as far eastwards as the Himalayas.
It is a rather rigid herb, the stem of which attains a height of from 3 to 5 feet; the leaves are large and toothed, the lower ones stalked, the rest embracing the stem; the flowers are yellow, 2 inches broad, and have many rays, each three-notched at the extremity. The root is thick, branching and mucilaginous, and has a warm, bitter taste and a camphoraceous odor.
For medicinal purposes it should be procured from plants not more than two or three years old. Besides inulin, C12H20O10, a body isomeric with starch, the root contains helenin, C6H8O, a stearoptene, which may be prepared in white acicular crystals, insoluble in water, but freely soluble in alcohol. When freed from the accompanying inula-camphor by repeated crystallization from alcohol, helenin melts at 110° C. By the ancients the root was employed both as a medicine and as a condiment, and in England it was formerly in great repute as an aromatic tonic and stimulant of the secretory organs. As a drug, however, the root is now seldom resorted to except in veterinary practice, though it is undoubtedly possessed of antiseptic properties.
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.