Sudden as an Elf Shot, Elecampane Root works quickly on Chronic Congestion in the Cold of Winter



Herbal Remedies

Sudden as an Elf Shot*, Elecampane Root works quickly on Chronic Congestion in the Cold of Winter

If you've ever smelled Elecampane, you'll most likely have a unique olfactory experience, given its distinct and memorable aroma.

By Mark Zuleger-Thyss 



When caught between worlds or in periods of great transition, the herb Elecampane is well-suited for relieving one's spiritual pain, bringing the heart in line with the body.



St. Anthony is known as the patron saint of lost things, and there is one 88-year-old woman I know who calls upon him when anything – prized books of psalms, keys, or glasses – goes missing.

Instead, you could use the herb Elecampane to enhance psychic powers before charming those lost things and people back home.

One person's prayer is another person's Camphor-like tool. If the first one doesn't work, could it hurt to try the next one?



In your quest to find a fast-acting remedy for winter respiratory ailments, horse heal, or elf dock might be the perfect herb to call into your realm.

Better known as Elecampane, its root has a sharp and cooling aromatic scent sure to assault the nose. It is taken for its antiviral activity, bolstering the body against germs and inflammation.

Elecampane is a widespread plant species in the sunflower family of Asteraceae. It is native to Eurasia from Spain to Xinjiang province in western China and naturalized in parts of North America. Its antibacterial action works very well for respiratory illnesses. It is a demulcent (soothing herb) primarily used to treat coughs associated with bronchitis, asthma, and whooping cough.

Elecampane helps to remove layers of hardened, infected mucosa of the lungs, allowing for the secretion of a new layer of thin, clear mucous rich in immune factors. 


An old Latin phrase, “Enula campana reddit praecordia sana,” meaning “Elecampane will the spirits sustain,” is understood to refer to the plant's gently warming and restorative tonic properties.




Habitat and Harvesting

Elecampane is a hardy, robust perennial with thick rhizomes, stout, erect stems, and large, oblong alternate leaves with a slightly serrated edge. It quickly grows in any type of soil, moist, well-drained, and rocky soils, in semi-shade or full sun. Elecampane grows best in cool summer climates.

Plant it about 3' apart. Taller plants may need support, particularly in areas exposed to wind. The roots are best harvested in the second year, when the essential oils are said to be most potent.

Bearing yellow, daisy-like flowers in summer, Elecampane depreciates rapidly after flowering. When first dug up, the roots smell like ripe bananas, but as they dry, they take on the scent of violets. 



Food as Medicine

Interestingly, Elecampane is used today very much the same way herbalists and physicians used the herb long ago. Bitter, your healthcare professional will recommend taking it as a tincture, 1 to 2 ml, up to four times daily. The fibrous outer layer can be removed, and the fleshy white root inside can be cut and used in teas, tinctures, or eaten whole.

Probably due to its bitter taste, historical and modern literature suggests soaking, baking, or frying in honey or sugar before eating the root. Honey is preferred, as sugar can lower immune function.

It is warming and stimulating and can get things moving in many body parts. This includes assisting with slow digestion, helping to support a healthy menstrual cycle, and discouraging fluid retention.



Medicinal uses are astringent, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, mild expectorant, and tonic.
It has anti-inflammatory action, reduces mucous secretions, and treats coughs, consumption, bronchitis, and other chest complaints.
Suitable for old and young, and especially useful when a patient is debilitated.
It cleanses toxins from the body, stimulates the immune and digestive systems, and treats bacterial and fungal infections. A powerful antiseptic and bactericide, it is particularly effective against the organism that causes Tuberculosis (TB).
Use it externally as a wash for skin inflammations and varicose ulcers. It can even produce a blue dye from its bruised and macerated roots.





If you have allergies to other members of the Asteraceae family, such as fever few, chamomile, or Echinacea, you should exercise caution as it's a potential allergen.

This root is used as an infusion, tinctured, added to herbal syrups, or used as a spice, and larger doses may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping. Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.



Elecampane is named after Helen of Troy,
who carried the flowers with her when Paris abducted her from Sparta




* What is an Elf Shot?

In the not-so-distant past, when people found stone tools in their pastures and fields, they didn't have the benefit of the science of archaeology to explain their origins.

In many countries, people thought that the tiny Neolithic flint arrowheads were made by elves or fairies who had been out shooting cattle. Stone arrowheads were called Elfshot or Fairie Darts, or Elf Arrows.

Elfshot or elf-shot is a medical condition described in Anglo-Saxon medical texts believed to be caused by elves shooting invisible elf-arrows at a person, causing sudden shooting pains localized to a particular area of the body.

Illness could result from a sudden seizure or paralysis, cramping, or, most distinctively, a sudden internal shooting pain without apparent cause. Possible prevention or curing of elf-shot included visiting Church on the first Sunday of the season or using a charm made of fever few, red nettles, and way bread.






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