Inula. N. F. IV (U. S. P. 1890). Inula, Elecampane. Aunee, Fr. Alantwurzel, Gr. Enula Campana, It., Sp. U. S. 1890.—"The dried rhizome and roots of Inula Helenium Linné (Fam. Compositae), without the presence of more than 5 per cent. of its stem bases or other foreign matter." N. F. IV.
Inula Helenium is a stout, perennial herb naturalized from Europe and growing along roadsides and damp pastures from Nova Scotia to North Carolina and westward as far as Missouri. The rhizome and roots are used in medicine. The N. F. description is as follows: "Rhizome usually split into longitudinal or more or less oblique pieces to which may be attached one or more of the roots; up to 8 cm. in length and 4 cm. in diameter; externally grayish-brown to dark brown, longitudinally wrinkled with occasional buds or stem scars and surmounted at the crown by a portion of the overground stem; inner or cut surface somewhat concave, the edges incurved with the overlapping bark, yellowish-brown to grayish-brown, longitudinally striate and more or less fibrous near the cambium zone; fracture short and horny; inner surface light brown and marked by numerous circular or elliptical oleoresinous canals; roots cylindrical and tapering, frequently curved or irregularly curled, up to 13 cm. in length and 1.5 cm. in diameter. Odor aromatic; taste acrid, bitter and pungent. Transverse sections under the microscope show a corky layer of from four to seven rows of broad tabular cells; a cortex of numerous parenchyma cells containing inulin in irregular or fan-shaped masses and a number of large, intercellular, oleoresinous reservoirs arranged in nearly radial rows and forming interrupted circles; woody portion consisting chiefly of parenchyma, a number of tracheae with simple pores of reticulate thickenings and associated occasionally with a few, strongly lignified wood fibers, and oleoresinous reservoirs similar to those occurring in the bark; parenchyma cells in the pith of the rhizome large, containing less inulin than the cells of the wood and bark and separated by large intercellular spaces. The powder is light brown; consisting chiefly of fragments of parenchyma containing inulin and small, irregular, separated masses of inulin; tracheae with simple pores and reticulate thickenings associated occasionally with strongly lignified wood fibers; occasional reddish-brown fragments of the walls of the oleoresinous canals. Inula yields not more than 10 per cent. of ash." N. F. A peculiar principle, resembling starch, was discovered in elecampane by Valentine Rose, of Berlin, in 1804, who named it alantin; but the title inulin, proposed by Thompson, has been generally adopted. It differs from starch in being deposited unchanged from its solution in boiling water when the liquor cools, and in giving a yellowish instead of a blue color with iodine. It has been found in the roots of several other plants. It may be obtained white and pure by precipitating a concentrated decoction with twice its volume of alcohol, dissolving the precipitate in a little distilled water, treating the solution with purified animal charcoal, and again precipitating with alcohol. (A. J. P., xxxi, 69.) It readily dissolves in about three parts of boiling water; the levogyre solution is perfectly clear and fluid, not paste-like, but on cooling deposits nearly all the inulin. Its formula, according to Kiliani (Tollens, Handbuch der Kohlenhydrate, 1888, p. 202), is 3C12H20O10 + H2O. On prolonged heating with water, more rapidly under the influence of dilute acids, it is changed into levulose and reduces Fehling's solution. As in the case of starch, intermediate products can be obtained before it is completely changed into reducing sugar. Dragendorff obtained by heating with water for ten hours metinulin, and by heating for forty to fifty hours levulin, an optically inactive amorphous substance easily changing into levulose. Tanret, who has since investigated inulin (J. P. C., 27, 449), confirms Kiliani's formula as given above. He finds associated with inulin two closely related principles: pseudo-inulin and inulenin. The first of these, to which the formula (C_H_O_) _.H_O is given, forms irregular granules, very soluble in water and weak alcohol while hot, but only slightly soluble in cold water, and insoluble' in cold alcohol; the second is given the formula (C6H10O5.10.2H2O, and forms microscopical needles slightly soluble in cold water and weak alcohol. The amount of inulin varies according to the season, but is most abundant in autumn. Dragendorff obtained from the root in October not less than 44 per cent., but in spring only 19 per cent. A crystallizable substance was long since noticed to collect in the head of the receiver when the elecampane root ia submitted to distillation with water. Similar crystals may also be observed after carefully heating a thin slice of the root, and are even found as a natural efflorescence on the surface of a root that has been long kept. They can be extracted from the root by means of alcohol, and precipitated with water. Kallen (Ber. d. Chem. Ges., 1873, 1876) has found that these crystals consist chiefly of the anhydride, C15H20O2, of alantic acid, melting at 66° C. (150.8° F.), and that what was formerly known as helenin was a mixture of these with a liquid, alantol, C10H16O, boiling at 200° C. (392° F.), the true helenin and alant camphor. The crystals of helenin, C6H8O, have a bitterish taste, but no odor, and melt at 110° C. (230° F.). The camphor melts at 64° C. (147.2° F.), and in taste and odor is suggestive of peppermint.
Korab (L. L., vol. i, 1885, p. 672) states that helenin is a powerful antiseptic and bactericide, one part in ten thousand of urine being sufficient to arrest putrefaction, and a few drops of a solution of this strength immediately killing the ordinary bacterial organisms, including the tubercle bacillus. He lauds it as antiseptic in surgery and has given it with alleged success internally in doses of one-third to one grain (0.021-0.065 Gm.) in tubercular and catarrhal diarrheas. It is also stated by J. B. Obiol (L. L., April, 1886) to be an efficient local remedy in the treatment of diphtheria. Every four hours the false membrane is to be dusted over with powdered camphor, and then painted with a two per cent. solution of helenin in oil of sweet almond. It is affirmed that when the treatment was commenced on the first day of the patches the cure followed in twenty-four hours. Bockenham (Th. M., 1892, p. 145) asserts that helenin inhibits the growth of tubercle bacilli in the dilution of 1 in 10,000 and it has been employed by various writers in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis in doses of from one-sixth to five grains (0.01-0.32 Gm.). Helenin was also given internally. Dose, one and a half grains (0.096 Gm.) to children six years of age.
Elecampane is tonic and gently stimulant, and was employed by the ancients in amenorrhea and other diseases of women, also in phthisis, in dropsies, and in skin affections, in all of which diseases it was probably of no service. It has been given in powder, in the dose of twenty grains to one drachm (1.3-3.9 Gm.), or as a decoction (half ounce to the pint) in doses of one to two fluidounces (30-60 mils).