Veterinarian Reviewed on January 14, 2014 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
This attractive herb is typically an annual but under certain circumstances can become a biennial that can reach heights of up to three feet. It has a hairy upright stem with angular growths. The top is multi branched with a green and slightly violet color. Leaves are usually pale green but some are yellowish and have a sharp taste and an irritable odor. Flowers are sparse with violet bluish outer petals and pale yellow on the inside.
History and Origin of the Lobelia
Lobelia is also known as Indian tobacco. It has long been used for respiratory ailments such as Asthma, Pneumonia, Bronchial infections and even for coughs. The leaves are the most commonly consumed part of the plant for medicinal use.
Ancient uses of Lobelia
Traditionally Native American Indians would smoke Lobelia for treating Asthma hence the common name Indian tobacco.
During the mid 19th century American Doctors would use Lobelia to induce vomiting so as to remove toxins in the body. Due to this common practice it was nicknamed “puke weed” because of its effectiveness and wide spread use.
Modern Uses of Lobelia
Currently Lobelia is seeing more uses than just to cleanse the body. It is suggested to aide in expelling mucus in the respiratory system, especially the throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. Because of its effectiveness on the respiratory system, it still sees use as a treatment for asthma.
The active medical ingredient in Lobelia is Lobeline. It was believed to have very similar effect on the body as nicotine. Due to this misconstrued thought it was used until 1993 to help smokers quit smoking. The FDA found that it did little to help with this and ended sales of smoke cessation products containing Lobeline.
However new research has come out suggesting that Lobeline may actually help reduce the effects of nicotine dependency in the body by reducing the release of dopamine. This natural brain chemical helps regulate normal brain operations, but it is also linked to drug addiction. Researchers hope that the effects of Lobeline on the brain will help treat addiction dependency, but studies have yet to be conducted to determine the effectiveness.
Homeopathic uses of Lobelia are similar to both ancient uses and modern. Mainly for treating muscle tension and relaxation, vomiting, nausea, stop smoking and a multitude of respiratory ailments.
Side effects of Lobelia
There is a potential for Lobelia to be toxic but this is only the case if it is consumed in large doses, cases of coma have been reported but are certainly rare. Small doses such as for homeopathic treatments are not great enough to warrant much concern. If overly large doses are used minor side effects may occur but are usually rather mild, such as nausea, dry mouth and convulsions.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan