Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)
Lobelia is also known as Indian Tobacco. It is native to the northern United States and Canada. It grows to a height of three feet. The tall stem branches at the top. Pale violet-blue flowers with yellow interiors grace the top. This herb has a long medicinal history. Native Americans used this herb to treat asthma, as did medical doctors who used it to induce vomiting. Today, as a herbal remedy, it is still being used.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Lobelia has long been used for asthma, cough and bronchitis. It increases salivation, can cause throat spasms and palpitations by merely chewing a portion of one leaf. It is used to help people stop smoking. It is also used to treat anxiety.
Externally It is sometimes added to salves to treat eczema and other forms of dermatitis.
Other Uses Lobelia is also used homeopathically either by itself or in combination with other products to help people stop smoking. It is also used homeopathically to help relax muscles, to ease nausea and vomiting and to treat various respiratory ailments.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Lobelia can be combined with mullein and coltsfoot as a lung remedy. It can be used to calm excessive nervousness when mixed with valerian and skullcap.
Aerial parts The aerial portions (mostly leaves and seeds) of the plant are used medicinally.
Lobelia can be toxic. Substances in the plant bind themselves to receptors for nicotine in the nervous system and cause symptoms like profuse sweating, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, tremors, mental confusion, rapid heartbeat, convulsions, hypothermia, coma and sometimes death. Do not exceed a daily amount of 20 mg of this herb. Excessive doses higher than 500 mg are extremely toxic and may be fatal. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, paralysis, seizure disorders, shortness of breath or a sensitivity to tobacco, do not take this herb. Pregnant and nursing women should not take this herb. There are no known interactions with medications. Because of certain chemicals in the herb, use caution if you take anti-depressants or other psychiatric medications.
Preparation and Dosage
A standard dose of dried lobelia prepared in an infusion or decoction is ¼ to ½ teaspoon in 8 ounces of water. You may want to mix other herbs for this recipe. Steep for 30 to 40 minutes before straining. This infusion can be taken 4 times per day. For a liquid extract, 4 to 18 drops can be taken three times a day. For a tincture, 18 to 60 drops can be taken once per day. A vinegar tincture can be taken 3 times per day in a dose of 20 to 120 drops.