Lobelia inflata

Lobelia - Lobelia inflata (in the Lobeliaceae or Bluebell family)

Part used: Aerial portions with ripe seed.

Taste/smell: Very acrid.

Dosage: Infusion: 1 teaspoon per cup of water; or 1:2 fresh strength liquid extract: 1-10 drops, 1-6 times per day.

Mental picture and specific indications: Lobelia is for conditions of a spasmodic nature. It is specific for dyspnea increased with exertion and aggravated by exposure to cold.

Use: (a) Stimulant, (b) Diaphoretic, (c) Expectorant, (d) Antispasmodic, (e) Emetic.

Lobelia is a diffusive stimulant, best used where arterial action is strong. It equalizes the circulation of blood in the body. It is used

for spasmodic coughs like croup, whooping cough, bronchial asthma, bronchitis and pleurisy. Lobelia is used during parturition when the os is spongy and not relaxing. It is a wonderful antispasmodic for many conditions. It is used externally as well as internally as an antispamodic.

Lobelia's constituent, lobeline, has been used as a treatment for nicotine addiction because it acts similarly to nicotine on autonomic ganglia.

Contraindications: Lobelia is contraindicated in nervous prostration, shock, paralysis, pneumonia or fluid around lungs, heart disease and high blood pressure due to alpha-adrenergic hypertensive effects of lobeline. It is also contraindicated in pregnancy due to similarity of lobeline to nicotine. An overdose can cause nausea and vomiting. Some sensitive individuals experience nausea and vomiting regardless of the amount consumed. Lobelia usually does not cause toxicity because the emetic effect produces vomiting and rids the stomach of the plant. But if an overdose is consumed and vomiting occurs but does not rid the body of all the lobelia, possible reactions include weakness, stupor, tremors, paralysis, rapid breathing and pulse, hypothermia, pinpoint pupils, sweating, prostration, unconsciousness, convulsions, coma and death. Contact with the leaves may cause dermatitis. The plant should only be used under t he guidance of a qualified health care practitioner. Reports of toxicity due to Lobelia are vague and have been questioned by the herbal community, where no one seems to have seen any side effects except nausea and vomitting. Note: For an excellent review of Lobelia toxicity see Medical Herbalism 1998;10(1):1-16.

Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.