Elecampane root is a rock star herb that’s packed with potential health perks. But before you hit up your local health food store, it’s important to understand the basics. Here’s what the science says about this powerful plant, plus the deets on dosage and risks.

What is elecampane root? Elecampane is a flowering plant that’s part of the sunflower family (aka Asteraceae). The plant’s roots have a long history in folk medicine.

What are the benefits of elecampane root? Elecampane root is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects. It’s been used as a natural remedy for microbial, respiratory, and gastrointestinal issues.

Does elecampane root work? Some research suggests that elecampane root is the real deal. But we still need more studies on humans to prove all of the potential perks.

Who shouldn’t use elecampane root? Elecampane root is generally considered safe when it’s taken as an oral supplement. But it’s not for everyone. Talk with your doctor if you’re not sure if it’s right for you.

There’s a chance elecampane can interfere with blood pressure and blood sugar levels. So folks who have diabetes or hypertension may want to steer clear. You should also avoid it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding because there isn’t enough research to prove it’s safe.

elecampane rootShare on Pinterest
Nikolay_Donetsk/Getty Images

Elecampane root is an herb that’s native to Europe. The plant boasts a bright yellow flower and can grow up to 8 feet tall. But it’s not just pretty. It also has a long history of medicinal use.

Many believe that it can alleviate tummy troubles like nausea and indigestion when it’s taken as a dietary supplement. Some peeps say it can thin mucus and suppress coughs, too.

Never heard of elecampane root? You may be familiar with one of its alter egos:

  • elfwort
  • elfdock
  • scabwort
  • horseheal
  • yellow starwort

(Some serious Harry Potter vibes, anyone? ✨)

Here’s a deep-dive into which potential benefits are rooted in science and which need a lot more research.

May have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects

Elecampane root contains active compounds that have proven anti-inflammatory properties. A lot of this antioxidant activity is related to a compound called alantolactone. This might make it a good natural remedy for illnesses that involve inflammation, but it isn’t a sure thing.

Could contain antimicrobial properties

Some studies suggest elecampane root can help fight fungus and bacteria.

A 2011 test-tube study found that elecampane root essential oil can kill Staphylococcus bacteria by damaging the cell’s membrane. Other older studies suggest elecampane extracts can help treat tuberculosis and ward off Candida (the yeast that’s to blame for yeast infections).

Might have anticancer properties

We need more studies to prove elecampane root has anti-cancer effects on humans. But some research suggests it might offer some promising outcomes.

A 2006 test-tube study found that elecampane extract was toxic to certain tumor cells. A more recent test-tube study from 2019 found an isolated elecampane compound called eudesmane sesquiterpenoid promoted cancer cell death.

Again, it’s going to take more science to prove it actually works IRL.

May improve respiratory health

Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, elecampane root might act as a natural remedy for respiratory illnesses. This includes bronchitis, rhinitis, and throat infections.

A 2020 test-tube study found that the plant’s antioxidant content inhibited airway inflammation caused by cigarette smoke. It also helped open airways. Another 2020 study found elecampane was able to reduce inflammation and slow white blood cell activity.

But wait, there’s more! In a 2021 study, researchers gave kiddos who had an acute cough a cough suppressant that contained elecampane for 8 days. At the end of the study, the participants who received the real suppressant had less symptoms than the children who got a placebo.

Keep in mind, the cough suppressant had other ingredients as well. So we can’t know for sure if elecampane alone did the trick.

When it’s taken as an oral supplement, elecampane root is generally considered safe for most adults.

But there’s a chance that it, along with other herbs from the Inula genus, can interfere with blood pressure and blood sugar. So it’s prob a good idea to avoid this supp if you have diabetes or blood pressure problems.

As for allergies, a 2017 review found that a compound in elecampane root can trigger an allergic reaction in folks who have a sensitivity to plants that belong to the Compositae (aka Asteraceae) family. So if you’ve had reactions to plants such as feverfew, chamomile, or echinacea, for example, then you’ll want to steer clear.

Also, there’s not much research to show what type of potential drug interactions may occur. That’s why it’s super important you talk with your doc before use.

Pregnancy PSA: There’s very little research to show if elecampane root is safe to take during pregnancy. So it’s best to ditch it if your eggo is preggo or if you’re nursing.

You can get elecampane root as a dried powder, loose tea, or liquid extract. You can also buy whole roots and grind it into a powder at home. If you can’t find some at your local health food store, you can also find it online.

FYI: There’s no widely accepted recommended dose. Instead, stick to the dosage that’s suggested on the product’s packaging.

Elecampane root is an herb that boasts a long history in traditional and alternative medicine. There’s some research to support its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects. But we still need more research to 10/10 prove it’s an effective remedy for respiratory infections, gastrointestinal issues, and cancer.