Elecampane real

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 25.01.2022

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Bellroot; Edelwurz; Helenenalant; Helen's wort; Intestinal herb; Intestinal Root; Inula helenium; Snakeweed

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Elecampane (Inula helenium) is a perennial herbaceous plant of the daisy family (Asteraceae), originally native to Central Asia, now native to almost all of Europe, up to 2 m. high. Elecampane has yellow flowers. Elecampane is one of the oldest medicinal plants, used by the Greeks and Romans in ancient times. In the past, elecampane was often used as a spice.

Commission E: - Negative overall assessment (efficacy not sufficiently proven, high allergy potential).

ESCOP: - no processing

HMPC: - no editing

General information
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Elecampane is stem plant of Helenii rhizoma the elecampane rhizome, from dried and crushed rhizome with roots. For this, there is a negative monograph of the Commission E.

About 17 different sesquiterpene lactones including helenalin have been identified so far in the aerial parts of the plant and 6 in the roots.
Alantolactone and isoalactone play an important role as contact allergens.
Epicutaneous test: for this purpose a short ether extract 0.1% is prepared in vaseline. Alantolactone is tested 0.01-0.1% in petrolatum; isoalantolactone 0.1% in petrolatum. The irritation threshold is low. Direct testing of plant parts is not recommended.

Cross-reactions are also found with chrysanthemum, sunflower as well as with nodding two-tooth.

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Alant was used as a panacea in the Middle Ages. Both the roots and the leaves were used as a cough remedy, for diseases of the throat and as a vermifuge. The earlier use for skin diseases was largely abandoned. This was mainly due to the contact sensitizing properties of the extracts.

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  1. Aberer W et al (1990) Active sensitization to elecampane by patch testing with a crude plant extract. Cont. Derm22:53-55
  2. Arberer W (2008) Contact allergy and medicinal plants. JDDG 6: 15-24
  3. Hausen BM, Vieluf K (1997) Allergy plants, plant allergens. Ecomed Publishing House Landsberg (Munich) 81-82

Incoming links (2)

Inula helenium; Inulin;


Last updated on: 25.01.2022