Inula helenium / Griekse alant

Zoals vele medicinale plant werd ook Alant reeds van oudsher beschreven.We vinden hem al terug rond 500 in de Codex Constantinopolitanus. Ook Hippocrates vermeldde de plant als gunstig voor de luchtwegen, de baarmoeder en de urinewegen en zelfs een schrijver als Horatius verhaalt in zijn 'De Achtste Satire' over het maken van een saus met deze aromatische bittere wortel. Niet verwonderlijk want naast de forse bovengrondse groei is het toch de immense wortel met kamfergeur die vooral opvalt.

Plinius en Hildegard over Inula

In het jaar 77 schreef Plinius over een zekere Julia Augustinus dat ze 'geen dag voorbij liet gaan zonder wat alantwortel te eten, dat ter bevordering van de spijsvertering en een aangenaam humeur. In de 5de eeuw werd de plant 'inula campana' genoemd en in de middeleeuwen 'enula.' Hildegard von Bingen en Albertus Magnus raadden de plant aan voor de luchtwegen, evenals Matthiolus.

Lees verder

Uittreksel uit Natural Standard monografie

Parts used and where grown

Elecampane is indigenous to Europe and Asia and is now grown in the United States. The dried roots and rhizomes (branching part of the root) are collected in fall or early winter and used in herbal preparations.

Elecampane has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):


  • Asthma

  • Bronchitis

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Cough

  • Indigestion

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies)

Traditionally, herbalists have used elecampane to treat coughs, particularly those associated with bronchitis, asthma, and whooping cough.1 The herb has also been used historically to treat poor digestion and general complaints of the intestinal tract.

Active constituents

Elecampane root and rhizome contain approximately 1–4% volatile oils.2 Most of these volatile oils are composed of sesquiterpene lactones, including alantolactone. Elecampane is also very high in inulin (44%)3 and mucilage. Most herbal texts attribute the actions of elecampane to alantolactone.4 The antitussive (cough prevention and treatment) and carminative (soothing effect on the intestinal tract) effects of elecampane, however, may possibly be due to the inulin and mucilage content. Isolated alantolactone has been used to treat parasites (e.g., roundworm, threadworm, hookworm, whipworm). This use is only by prescription and is not approved in all European countries.5

How much is usually taken?

The German Commission E Monograph states the historical application of elecampane has not been adequately proven to recommend its use.6 This is partially based on the potential side effects listed below. For traditional use, elecampane is typically recommended as a tea. Boiling water is poured over 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of the ground root and rhizome, left to steep for ten to fifteen minutes, then strained. One cup of this preparation is taken three to four times daily. Some texts recommend 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (3–5 ml) of a tincture three times daily.7

Are there any side effects or interactions?

The inulin in elecampane root is widely distributed in fruits, vegetables and plants. It is classified as a food ingredient (not as an additive) and is considered safe to eat.8 In fact, inulin is a significant part of the daily diet of most of the world’s population.9 However, there is a report of a 39-year-old man having a life-threatening allergic reaction after consuming high amounts of inulin from multiple sources.10 Allergy to inulin in this individual was confirmed by laboratory tests. Such sensitivities are extremely rare. Moreover, this man did not take elecampane. Nevertheless, people with a confirmed sensitivity to inulin should avoid elecampane.

Alantolactone can be an irritant to the intestinal tract and, along with other sesquiterpene lactones in elecampane, may cause localized irritation in the mouth. Amounts several times higher than those stated above may cause vomiting, diarrhea, spasms, and signs of paralysis.11 If these symptoms occur, people should contact their local poison control center. Pregnant or nursing women should not use elecampane.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with elecampane.


1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 222–4.

2. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 254–6.

3. Duke, JA. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. Boca Raton, FL; CRC Press, 1992.

4. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 254–6.

5. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 106–7.

6. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 328–9.

7. Bradley PR (ed). British Herbal Compendium, vol. 1. Bournemouth, England: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, 87–8.

8. Carabin IG, Flamm WG. Evaluation of safety of inulin and oligofructose as dietary fiber. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 1999;30:268–82 [review].

9. Coussement PA. Inulin and oligofructose: safe intakes and legal status. J Nutr 1999;129:1412S–7S [review].

10. Gay-Crosier F, Schreiber G, Hauser C. Anaphylaxis from inulin in vegetables and processed food. N Engl J Med 2000;342:1372 [letter].

11. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C, et al. (eds). PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 912–3.

Inula helenium

This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

Interactions with Drugs

  • Traditionally, elecampane has been added to white wine for the treatment of bronchitis. Use cautiously with alcohol.

  • Elecampane may have moderate antibacterial activity. Use cautiously with antibiotics, due to possible additive effects.

  • Elecampane may alter blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medication that may also alter blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare provider. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Elecampane may have moderate antifungal and antiparasitic activity; use cautiously.

  • Elecampane may have additive effects with other blood pressure-altering agents, anticancer agents, and laxative agents in humans; use cautiously.

  • Elecampane may have antioxidant properties.

  • Elecampane may have additive effects with agents that induce muscle relaxation. Use cautiously with antispasmodic medications. Elecampane may have additive effects with cardiac agents in humans. Use cautiously with heart medications.

  • Elecampane may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbituates such as Phenobarbital, narcotics such as caffeine, some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.

Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements

Elecampane may have moderate antibacterial activity, antifungal activity, anticancer activity, antioxidant properties, and antiparasitic activity. Use cautiously with herbs and supplements with similar effects.

  • Elecampane may have additive effects with agents that induce muscle relaxation; use cautiously with herbs with such activity.

  • Elecampane may have additive effects with cardiac agents in humans. Use cautiously with herbs and supplements taken for the heart.

  • Echinacea and osha (Ligusticum porteri) root have been used in combination with elecampane for respiratory ailments. Use cautiously.

  • There is a potential for additive effects between elecampane and ginger as laxative agents in humans. There is also a potential for additive effects between elecampane and ginger as anti-cancer agents in humans.

  • Elecampane may alter blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also alter blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

  • Elecampane may have additive effects with other blood pressure-altering herbs and supplements in humans; use cautiously.

  • Use cautiously with herbs and supplements with laxative effects, those taken for respiratory ailments.

  • Elecampane may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs and supplements. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.


  • Al Gammal SY. Elecampane and Job's disease. Bull Indian Inst.Hist Med Hyderabad. 1998;28(1):7-11.

  • Cantrell CL, Abate L, Fronczek FR, et al. Antimycobacterial eudesmanolides from Inula helenium and Rudbeckia subtomentosa. Planta Med 1999;65(4):351-355.

  • Chen CN, Huang HH, Wu CL, et al. Isocostunolide, a sesquiterpene lactone, induces mitochondrial membrane depolarization and caspase-dependent apoptosis in human melanoma cells. Cancer Lett 2-8-2007;246(1-2):237-252.

  • Dorn DC, Alexenizer M, Hengstler JG, et al. Tumor cell specific toxicity of Inula helenium extracts. Phytother Res 2006;20(11):970-980.

  • El Garhy MF, Mahmoud LH. Anthelminthic efficacy of traditional herbs on Ascaris lumbricoides. J Egypt.Soc Parasitol. 2002;32(3):893-900.

  • Hofbauer S, Kainz V, Golser L, et al. Antiproliferative properties of Padma Lax and its components ginger and elecampane. Forsch.Komplementarmed. 2006;13 Suppl 1:18-22.

  • Konishi T, Shimada Y, Nagao T, et al. Antiproliferative sesquiterpene lactones from the roots of Inula helenium. Biol.Pharm.Bull. 2002;25(10):1370-1372.

  • Nesterova IuV, Zelenskaia KL, Vetoshkina TV, et al. [Mechanisms of antistressor activity of Inula helenium preparations]. Eksp.Klin.Farmakol. 2003;66(4):63-65.

  • Paulsen E. Contact sensitization from Compositae-containing herbal remedies and cosmetics. Contact Dermatitis 2002;47(4):189-198.

  • Paulsen E, Andersen KE, Hausen BM. Sensitization and cross-reaction patterns in Danish Compositae-allergic patients. Contact Dermatitis 2001;45(4):197-204.

  • Spiridonov NA, Konovalov DA, Arkhipov VV. Cytotoxicity of some Russian ethnomedicinal plants and plant compounds. Phytother Res 2005;19(5):428-432.

  • Stojakowska A, Kedzia B, Kisiel W. Antimicrobial activity of 10-isobutyryloxy-8,9-epoxythymol isobutyrate. Fitoterapia 2005;76(7-8):687-690.

  • Stojakowska A, Malarz J, Kisiel W. Thymol derivatives from a root culture of Inula helenium. Z.Naturforsch.[C.] 2004;59(7-8):606-608.

  • Stojakowska A, Michalska K, Malarz J. Simultaneous quantification of eudesmanolides and thymol derivatives from tissues of Inula helenium and I. royleana by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Phytochem.Anal. 2006;17(3):157-161.

  • Zelenskaya KL, Povet'eva TN, Pashinskii VG, et al. Stress-inducing effect of hypoxia of different origin and its correction with Inula Helenium L. tincture. Bull Exp.Biol.Med 2005;139(4):414-417.