Herb of The Week: Elecampane
Last week my mom was making a knockout of a syrup which had osha and elecampane. It filled our whole home with the smell of what I can only describe as rotting woodland. It was pungent, encompassing, but I’m sure to those who are sick, incredibly comforting.
Elecampane has been used since medieval times to treat lung and breathing issues and was even eaten as candy or throat lozenges later in the 1600s. Because elecampane is diuretic, tonic, diaphoretic, expectorant, alterative, antiseptic, astringent, and a stimulant it is great for getting mucus and other bodily fluids moving within the body and easing a dry cough.
I remember this herb well from my tween years. I had bronchitis and despite fighting taking the (what I was sure was toxic juice) elecampane tooth and nail I was relieved and able to go practically the whole night without coughing. While I tried to hide my enthusiasm from my mother (don’t want her to get too cocky) she continued making more syrup happily knowing she had won.
It’s a good idea to always have a bit of syrup on hand during the winter. It can be added to other syrups (such as elderberry) for a combination of ailments or to help the taste and to test children trying to stay home from school just how sick they really are. It’s amazing how health can bounce back in a child after being threatened with elecampane.
Cough and Cold Syrup (Mom's)
1 T elecampane root
1 T osha root
1 T wild cherry bark
1 qt water
Simmer together until the water is reduced by half.
(add the leaves for the last few minutes of simmering the roots)
If everyone using the syrup will be old enough for honey, combine 2 cups honey with 2 cups of concentrated "tea." Use by the tablespoon.