This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Enula Campana Pharm. Lond. Enula campanaseu helenium Pharm. Edinb. Inula Gesn. hort. Helenium vulgare C. B. After omnium maximus Tourn. Inula Helenium Linn. Elecampane: a large plant, with long, wrinkled, oval, acuminated leaves, ferrated about the edges, pale green above, and hoary underneath, joined close to the stalk, which divides towards the top into several branches, bearing large yellow flowers of the radiated discous kind, followed by oblong seeds winged with down: the roots are short and thick, somewhat unctuous to the touch, brown or blackish on the outside, and whitish within. It is perennial, grows wild in moist rich foils, and flowers in June.
The fresh roots of elecampane have a weak not very grateful smell; which, on thoroughly drying and keeping them for some time, is greatly improved, and approaches to that of Florence orris. Chewed, they discover at first a kind of rancid glutinous taste, quickly suc-ceeded by an aromatic bitterness, which by degrees becomes considerably pungent.
This root stands recommended as a diaphoretic and stomachic, for promoting expectoration in humoural asthmas and coughs, and for attenuating viscid juices in general, and disposing them to excretion: taken freely, it is said to gently loosen the belly, and increase the urinary discharge. The dose of the dry root in sub-stance is from a scruple to a dram or two.
It gives out its virtue partially to aqueous, totally to spirituous menstrua: the former it tinges of a muddy yellowish, the latter of a bright pale yellow colour. In distillation with water, it gives over an essential oil, which concretes into white flakes, partly swimming on the water, and partly subsiding, in quantity about one dram from thirty ounces, of.no great heat or pungency, smelling at first pretty strongly of the elecampane, but very apt to lose its smell in keeping. Great part of the aromatic warmth and pungency, as well as the bitterness, reside in a matter of a more fixt kind, which does not easily exhale in the heat of boiling water, and is preserved in tolerable persection in the watery extract. Rectisied spirit elevates little or nothing from this root: the spirituous extract is con-siderably stronger than the watery, though its pungency is not near so great as might be expected considering the smallness of its quantity: it scarcely exceeds one fifteenth the weight of the root, whereas the watery extract amounts to almodt one half.