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Sweet Inula - A winter wonder oil

March 2019, posted by Emma

Is one of your new year’s resolutions to try out some new essential oils? If you’re not familiar with the lovely Sweet Inula then this sunshine-blossomed aromatic is a great oil to get to know.
Hailing from the daisy family, and sporting a flower that looks a little like a dandelion, this herb loves to grow on wasteland and roadsides across Europe. Rather unfairly it is often considered to be a weed and has enjoyed a variety of mean-sounding common names including Stinkwort, which doesn’t reflect the sweet-herbaceous aroma of its essential oil.

Sweet Inula (Inula graveolens) is a good example of why aromatherapists should be aware of botanical names; it is sometimes confused with Inula helenium (Elecampane) which is a strong skin sensitiser and therefore not recommended for use in aromatherapy. In contrast, Sweet Inula has no known safety cautions.

Interestingly, Sweet Inula essential oil varies in colour depending on the type of still used to extract the oil from its flowering tops. Our oil is from France. You can tell it was distilled in copper as the oil is a beautiful green, a result of essential oil components bonding to the copper. The same plant distilled in stainless steel will produce a yellow-clear essential oil.

Sweet Inula is primarily indicated for respiratory imbalances, particularly acute conditions including coughs, colds, sinusitis and laryngitis. French author Pierre Franchomme described Inula as the strongest mucolytic in aromatherapy (cited in Jennifer Peace-Rhind’s book, listed below), meaning that its great at loosening and clearing mucous from the respiratory passages.

Inula is believed to offer great general support for the immune system, so its an oil to help to protect yourself against winter bugs, as well as to fight them when they take hold.
Chemistry-wise, its rich in the ester bornyl acetate and the monoterpenol borneol. Together this pair of crafty compounds are credited with gifting Inula sedative, anti-inflammatory, strong anti-bacterial and expectorant actions – what great team work!
Soothing for the nervous system, and therefore the mind, this sweet oil can also help calm the skin and may be added to preparations to treat rashes and other inflamed skin conditions.

We invite you to enjoy the sweet aroma of this special essential oil and allow it to help keep you calm and healthy this winter.

Chesty Cough support

Steam inhalations are great for clearing blocked sinuses and loosening chesty-coughs. Add 2 drops of Sweet Inula (Inula graveolens) and 1 of Ravintsara (Cinnamonum camphora) to a bowl of steaming water. Place a towel over your head (to hold in the steam), close your eyes, lean over the bowl and breath through your nose. Warning: avoid if asthmatic - steam may trigger an asthma attack. Steam inhalations are not recommended for young children.

General Respiratory & Winter Bug Fighting Aid

Add these oils to your diffuser or burner to scent your room, support your lungs and help fight winters bugs.
Spike Lavender (Lavandula spicata) – 4 drops
Sweet Inula (Inula graveolens) – 3 drops
Myrtle (Myrtus communis) – 3 drops

Emma Charlton

• Bataglia S (2003) The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy (second edition), Brisbane: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy
• Peace Rhind J (2012) Essential Oils (second edition), London & Philadelphia; Singing Dragon
• Shutes J (2018) Inula: Inula graveolens essential Oil, accessed 09/01/19, available from
• Tisserand R & Young R (2014) Essential Oil Safety (second edition), Edinburgh, London, New York et al: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier