The root of Inula Helenium, Linné (Nat. Ord. Compositae). A common roadside and pasture weed in Europe and America. Dose, 1 to 60 grains.
Common Names: Elecampane, Scabwort.
Principal Constituents.—Resins, inulin (30 to 40 per cent), a starch-like body, and helenin (Alant camphor).
Preparations.—1. Specific Medicine Inula. Dose, 1 to 60 drops.
2. Syrupus Inula, Syrup of Inula, (Specific Medicine Inula, 1 fluidrachm; Syrup, 16 ounces). Dose, 1 to 4 fluidrachms.
Specific Indications.—"Cough of a teasing and persistent character accompanied by substernal pain and profuse excretion; atony of abdominal viscera with engorgement and relaxation; catarrhal discharges." (American Dispensatory, 1900.)
Action and Therapy.—Inula is an aromatic, stimulating expectorant and tonic. It is one of the old but neglected remedies of early domestic and eclectic development, and has recently been revived as a remedy of promise in chronic pulmonic disorders. As it acts kindly upon the stomach, it proves tonic and favors digestion and assimilation. It seems especially adapted to chronic disorders with excessive mucous discharges. It has long been valued in chronic catarrhal states of the bronchi, bladder, and vagina, and particularly in chronic endometritis with discharge of glairy mucus. It relieves some cases of humid asthma and controls night sweats.
Inula is of greatest service in bronchial irritation, with cough of a persistent, teasing character, with copious expectoration. We have for many years used and valued the syrup advised by Locke, and prepared as follows: Take Elecampane, 1 ounce; Boiling Water, 16 fluidounces. Boil until but 8 ounces remain; add ½ pound of white sugar. This is especially useful in chronic bronchitis, with profuse excretion of mucus or muco-pus, and in the cough persisting after la grippe and the severest forms of colds.
From time to time reports have come to press that helenin and other constituents of inula are fatal to the tubercle bacillus. In 1900 we recorded in the American Dispensatory the statement that "helenin is accredited with a fatal action upon the tubercle bacillus by Korab, Blocq, and others." Locke, in his lectures, emphasized the value of Inula in phthisis, and noted particularly its value to control the night sweats of that disorder. This was recorded in Locke's Syllabus in 1895. More recently, since hypodermatic and intravenous medication have come into vogue, inula, together with echinacea, has been reinvestigated and advised as a potent drug for its influence upon pulmonary tuberculosis. This work is still in the experimental stage, but with promise at least of amelioration of symptoms and gain of weight in some cases and a marked lessening of cough and secretion. Over-enthusiastic reports must be received with judgment, and not too much hoped for until more complete knowledge of its power over tuberculosis is proved or disproved. The value of the drug, internally administered, so far as amelioration of distressing symptoms is concerned, is unquestioned, but so far we are skeptical concerning its power to destroy the tubercle bacillus within the body.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.