I had bronchitus in 1994 used lobelia in small then moderate amounts for 6 months in dry capsule form, and I have never had it since. A Dr. told me I would need an inhaler for the rest of my life. I did many biatholons since then. Do not take this if you smoke!! Eventhough it was once used to help people quit smoking.
***Make sure you get advice from an MD on dosing, it can be toxic in larger amounts.***
Good Luck. mike3
Uses of this Herb
Drugs that Interact
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Also listed as: Asthma weed; Bladderpod; Gagroot; Indian tobacco; Lobelia inflata; Pukeweed; Vomitroot
Medicinal Uses and Indications
How to Take It
Lobelia ( Lobelia inflata ), also called Indian tobacco, has a long history of use as an herbal remedy for respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and cough. Native Americans historically have smoked lobelia as a treatment for asthma. In the 19th century, American physicians prescribed lobelia to induce vomiting in order remove toxins from the body. Because of this, it earned the name "puke weed." Today, lobelia is considered effective in helping clear mucus from the respiratory tract, including the throat, lungs, and bronchial tubes. Although few studies have thoroughly evaluated the safety and effectiveness of lobelia, some herbalists today incorporate lobelia into a comprehensive treatment plan for asthma.
An active ingredient in the lobelia plant, lobeline, is similar to nicotine in its effect on the body. Like nicotine, it stimulates nerves in the central nervous system. For this reason, lobeline was once used as a nicotine substitute in many anti-smoking products and preparations designed to break the smoking habit. In 1993, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibited the sale of lobeline-containing smoking products. The FDA reported that such products lacked effectiveness in helping people quit or reduce smoking.
It is important to note that lobelia is a potentially toxic herb. Lobelia can be safely used in very small doses (particularly homeopathic doses), but moderate-to-large doses can cause serious adverse effects ranging from dry mouth and nausea to convulsions and even coma (see Precautions). Under the guidance of a qualified health care provider, however, lobelia, in combination with other herbs that affect the respiratory system, is considered relatively safe.
Lobelia is an attractive annual or sometimes biennial (replanted every year or two) herb that grows to a height of three feet. Its erect, hairy stem is angular, branching at the top, usually green with a tinge of violet. The pale green or yellowish leaves have a sharp taste and a slightly irritating odor. The sparse flowers are pale violet-blue outside and pale yellow inside.
The above-ground portions of the lobelia plant (namely the leaves and seeds) are used for medicinal purposes.
Medicinal Uses and Indications
Lobelia has not been well studied in animals or people. However, a qualified health care provider may recommend this herb (usually in combination with other herbs) for the treatment of the following respiratory problems:
Lobelia is also diluted to a homeopathic dose and used alone or in combination with other products for smoking cessation, muscle relaxation, nausea, vomiting, and various respiratory illnesses.
Lobelia is available in liquid extracts, tinctures, and as a dried herb in capsules and for teas.
How to Take It
Therapy should begin with lower dosages and increase gradually, depending upon response.
Adjust the recommended adult dose to account for the child's weight. Most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb (70 kg) adult. Therefore, if the child weighs 50 lb (20 - 25 kg), the appropriate dose of lobelia for this child would be 1/3 of the adult dosage.
The following are recommended adult doses:
Dried herb (infusion or decoction): ¼ - ½ tsp herb in 8 oz of water, preferably mixed with other herbs. Steep 30 - 40 minutes and take 2 oz (60 mL), 4 times daily. (This method is not preferred because of lobelia's acrid taste.)
Liquid extract (1:1 in 50 % alcohol): 0.2 - 0.6 mL (4 - 18 drops), 3 times daily
Tincture of lobelia: 0.6 - 2.0 mL (18 - 60 drops) daily
Vinegar tincture of lobelia (1:5 in dilute acetic acid): 1 - 4 mL (20 - 120 drops), 3 times daily
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision a health care provider.
Lobelia is considered a potentially toxic herb. Active substances in lobelia bind to nicotine receptors in the nervous system and can cause serious symptoms, such as profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, rapid heartbeat, mental confusion, convulsions, hypothermia, coma, and even death. You should not exceed a total daily dosage of 20 mg lobelia. Doses higher than 500 mg are highly toxic and could be fatal.
People with high blood pressure, heart disease, tobacco sensitivity, paralysis, seizure disorder, and shortness of breath, and those recovering from shock should not take lobelia. Pregnant and breast-feeding women should also avoid this herb.
There are no known scientific reports of interactions between lobelia and medications. However, based on some of the chemicals contained in lobelia, use caution with the following medications:
Psychiatric medications, including anti-depressants, anti-anxiety agents, and stimulants
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