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Also known as scabwort, elf dock, wild sunflower and velvet dock, elecampane was known with great affection by ancient Roman poets as “inula,” a name believed to be related to the Greek name “Helenium.” Indeed, legend associates it with Helen, wife of Menelaus, who had her hands full of this herb when Paris stole her away. Another legend states that it sprang from the tears Helen wept during this abduction. Pliny the elder noted that, when chewed, inula fortified the teeth. An Ancient Latin saying proclaims: Enula campana reddit praecordia sana (“Elecampane will the spirits sustain”). And apparently medieval monks agreed with this sentiment, as they favored elecampane as a cordial! In Victorian London, elecampane was sold in a candied cake, recommended for soothing asthmatic complaints.
In modern herbal medicine, elecampane can be a powerful stimulant for those suffering from respiratory problems, as it reaches deeply into the lungs, allowing the body to thin out infections and fight them more effectively. Similarly, on a spiritual level, elecampane is a powerful herb for openings, as it penetrates through old, rooted griefs so they may be processed and released. The root in particular is very useful for initiating the first stages of healing. Witches have traditionally used elecampane in spells for protection against disease, to promote good luck, and to attract healthy love relationships. It is also an excellent assistant for enhancing communication with the spirit world. Linked with the planet Mercury and the element of Air, elecampane can stir things up and offer a new beginning after experiences of grief or despair, especially when one has been in those lower vibrational states for an extended period of time.