Tell me about...
What is lobelia? What is it used
Lobelia is a tall, reed-like plant that grows throughout
North America. Also known as Indian tobacco, lobelia consists
of a long, thin stem with green, shovel-shaped leaves and
green bulbs with white or purplish flowers. Although some
practitioners use lobelia seeds and roots in their formulas,
the leaves are used primarily.
At the start of the 20th century, many herbal
practitioners considered lobelia one of the most important
medicinal plants. It was used to relieve pain and treat coughs
and spasms; in higher amounts, it was employed to induce vomiting
in people who had been poisoned.
Most of lobelia's medicinal properties come from an
alkaloid substance called lobeline. Several studies have been
conducted using lobeline to help people stop smoking, but
these studies have produced decidedly mixed results. It is
still used to treat coughs, asthma and bronchitis. Uncontrolled
studies suggest lobeline may improve lung function.
How much lobelia should I take?
No more than one milliliter of lobelia tincture or extract
should be taken at a time. Taking too much internally may
cause nausea and possibly vomiting.
What forms of lobelia are available?
The most popular form of lobelia is an ointment, which is
used topically on the chest to relieve asthma and bronchitis.
Some specialty stores sell lobelia acetracts, which are made
using vinegar instead of alcohol.
What can happen if I take too much
lobelia? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
Using too much lobelia can frequently cause nausea and vomiting.
Other signs of lobelia poisoning may include weakness, heartburn,
a weak pulse, and difficulty breathing. Lobelia should not
be used by pregnant or lactating women, or by children less
than six years old.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
- Bergner P. Is lobelia toxic? Medical
- Davison GC, Rosen RC. Lobeline and reduction
of cigarette smoking. Psychol Reports 1972;31:44356.
- Ellingwood F. American Materia Medica,
Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 11th ed. Sandy, OR:
Eclectic Medical Publications, 1919, 1998, 23542.
- McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg
A. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical
Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 71.
- Pocta J. Therapeutic use of lobeline spofa.
Cas Lek Cesk 1970;109(36):865.