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Elecampane

Scientific Name(s): Inula helenium L.
Common Name(s): Alant, Elecampane, Horseheal, Inula, Radix Inulae, Scabwort, Yellow starwort

Clinical Overview

Use

Clinical trials evaluating the use of elecampane are lacking; however, in vitro research focuses on potential application in chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Antibacterial, cardiovascular, and hypoglycemic effects have also been suggested.

Dosing

None suggested due to lack of clinical data.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Elecampane may cause hypersensitivity reactions in patients with an existing allergy to plants in the Asteraceae family. Alantolactones may irritate the mucous membranes. There are case reports of contact dermatitis.

Toxicology

Large doses may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and symptoms of paralysis.

Botany

Elecampane is indigenous to southern and eastern Europe, but is also found in central Europe, the Near East, and North America. This perennial grows up to 3 meters in height, has large irregularly toothed leaves, and its golden yellow daisy-like flowers grow up to 7 centimeters in diameter.Bisset 2001, Chevallier 1996, Newall 1996, USDA 2017 Synonyms include Helenium grandiflorum Gilib., Aster officinalis All., and Aster helenium (L.) Scop. Elecampane is a member of the daisy (Asteraceae) family that includes chamomile, chrysanthemum, feverfew, ragweed, sunflower, tansy, and yarrow.

History

The ancient Romans used the plant as medicine and food. Hippocrates also used the plant to treat chronic skin eruptions and itching. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the plant was used as a panacea to treat all kinds of pains, especially pain associated with chills or animal bites.Al-Gammal 1998, Chevallier 1996

The roots of the plant have been traditionally used as a diuretic in Europe, as a fragrance in Japan, and as a preservative in China. American Indians used the roots medicinally in infusions and decoctions to treat lung disorders and tuberculosis.Konishi 2002

The herb was used as a snake venom antidote in Slovenian folk medicine in the 19th century.Dolenc 1978

Radix Inulae is a commonly used traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine, particularly for gastric effect and antibacterial action.Huo 2008

Chemistry

The root contains up to 44% of the carbohydrate inulin as well as mucilage. Sesquiterpenes isolated from the plant include a germacrane, an elemane, and the eudesmanes alantolactone, isoalantolactone, as well as several derivatives.Bisset 2001, Duke 2017, Khan 2010, Konishi 2002, Newall 1996

The plant also contains the triterpenes friedelin and dammaranedienol and its acetate. Sterols include β-sitosterol and its glucoside, and stigmasterol. Chromatographic techniques identified the following 2 thymol derivatives: 10-isobutyryloxy-8,9-epoxy-thymol isobutyrate and 10-isobutyryloxy-6-methoxy-8,9-epoxy-thymol isobutyrate.Bisset 2001, Newall 1996, Stojakowska 2004

Uses and Pharmacology

Clinical trials evaluating the use of elecampane are lacking; however, in vitro research focuses on potential application in chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Antibacterial, cardiovascular, and hypoglycemic effects have also been suggested.Huo 2008, Khan 2010

Antimycobacterial and anthelminthic activity

Alantolactone is reported to have antimycobacterial and anthelminthic activity. Chromatographic fractions from the root of I. helenium exhibited activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Another study found that the aqueous extracts of I. helenium may inhibit growth of the parasite Ascaris lumbricoides.Cantrell 1999, El Garhy 2002

Other uses

Alantolactone and isoalantolactone may have antitumor activity. Alantolactone may have hypotensive effects and hyperglycemic as well as hypoglycemic activity. The plant has also been examined for its antioxidant properties.Bisset 2001, Nesterova 2003, Newall 1996

Dosing

None suggested due to lack of clinical data.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Elecampane may cause hypersensitivity reactions in patients with an existing allergy to plants in the Asteraceae family. The alantolactones may irritate the mucous membranes and there are case reports in the scientific literature of allergic contact dermatitis.Lamminpaa 1996, Newall 1996

Toxicology

Large doses of the herb may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and symptoms of paralysis.Bisset 2001

References

Al-Gammal SY. Elecampane and Job's disease. Bull Indian Inst Hist Med Hyderabad. 1998;28:7-11.12587579
Bisset NG, ed. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. 2nd ed. New York, NY: CRC Press. 2001:254-256.
Cantrell CL, Abate L, Fronczek FR, Franzblau SG, Quijano L, Fischer NH. Antimycobacterial eudesmanolides from Inula helenium and Rudbeckia subtomentosa. Planta Med. 1999;65:351-355.10364842
Chevallier A, ed. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. New York, NY: DK Publishing; 1996.
Dolenc M. Inula helenium -popular snake venom antidote. Farm Vestn. 1978;29:118-121.
El Garhy MF, Mahmoud LH. Anthelminthic efficacy of traditional herbs on Ascaris lumbricoides. J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2002;32:893-900.12512821
Huo Y, Shi HM, Wang MY, Li XB. Chemical constituents and pharmacological properties of Radix Inulae. Pharmazie. 2008;63(10):699-703.18972829
Inula helenium (Asteraceae). Duke JA. Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, FL. CRC Press. https://phytochem.nal.usda.gov/phytochem. Accessed March 2017.
Inula helenium. USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, March 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Accessed March 2017.
Khan AL, Hussain J, Hamayun M, et al. Secondary metabolites from Inula britannica L. and their biological activities. Molecules. 2010;15(3):1562-77.20336001
Konishi T, Shimada Y, Nagao T, Okabe H, Konoshima T. Antiproliferative sesquiterpene lactones from the roots of Inula helenium. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002;25:1370-1372.12392098
Lamminpaa A, Estlander T, Jolanki R, Kanerva L. Occupational allergic contact dermatitis caused by decorative plants. Contact Dermatitis. 1996;34:330-335.8807225
Nesterova I, Zelenskaia KL, Vetoshkina TV, Aksinenko SG, Gorbacheva AV, Gorbatykh NA. Mechanisms of antistressor activity of Inula helenium preparations [in Russian]. Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2003;66:63-65.14558358
Newall C, Anderson L, Phillipson J, eds. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London, England: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996.
Stojakowska A, Malarz J, Kisiel W. Thymol derivatives from a root culture of Inula helenium. Z Naturforsch [C]. 2004;59:606-608.15813387

Disclaimer

This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

Further information

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