Lobelia inflata, Lobelia

Botanical Name:   Lobelia inflata

Common Names:  asthma weed, bladderpod, gagroot, Indian tobacco, lobelia, pukeweek, rapuntium inflatum, vomitroot

Family:  Campanulaceae (Lobeliaceae or Lobelioideae)

Class:  Expectorant, diaphoretic, anti-asthmatic

Composition:  contains 14 pyridine alkaloids, 

Method of Extraction:  alcohol extraction of the flowers

Cultivation / Harvesting:  Organic and Kosher Certified

Plant Description:  an annual, (sometimes biannual or perennial) and shrubby plant, with a variety of habitats, hardy and tender, in a range of intense colors. Simple, alternate leaves and two-lipped tubular flowers (each with 5 lobes). Upper two lobes are erect and lower three lobes are fanned out.  The plant grows to approximately 3-5 feet tall.  The plant’s stem is smooth at the top but hairy towards the bottom.  The flowers are asymmetrical and bisexual and have a sharp taste to slight irritating odor.

Plant Part:  flower and seeds

Color:  light bluish to bold violet with a touch of yellow

Consistency:  clear, pale yellow

Available Forms:  capsule, fluid extract, liquid extract, tincture (liquid alcohol extract), vinegar tincture

How does it work?  Lobelia is an herb that is used to treat allergies, asthma, bronchitis, congestion, smoking cessation, as a sedative, soothing for inflamed conditions, and for whopping cough.

Properties:  anti-asthmatic, anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, counter-irritant (in ointment form), diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic (rarely and only in high doses), expectorant (in bronchitis), nervine, stinulant

Chakras Affected:  Throat Chakra, 5 Vishuddha,  light blue, seed mantra=Hum. Symbol is a circle within a descending triangle

Traditional Medicine Notes:  Native Americans used lobelia to treat muscular and respiratory disorders.  L. kalmit said to be a cure for syphilis (Indian medicine).  L. purpurascens a tincture of the whole plant is used in paralysis of the lungs and tongue

Constituents: lobelic acid, lobeline (piperdine alkaloid – higher in the seed than plant), gum, resin, chlorophyl, ferric oxide, fixed oil, lignin, lime salt, potassium salt

Historical Uses

Lobelia has been used as a purgative and an “asthmador” in Appalachian folk medicine.  Lobelia has been used as a cure for syphilis (species L. siphilitica and L. cardinalis).  Lobelia has been used to help people quit smoking and is referred to as ‘Indian tobacco’ for this reason.  Has been used to induce vomiting, removing harmful chemicals and toxins from the body.  Used for diphtheria, tetanus, and tonsilitis.  Dispel nightmares!

Safety & Side Effects

Caution should be used with lobelia as it has a similarity to nicotine.  Excessive use may cause nausea, however with proper dosing and use, this shouldn’t be a problem.  Nausea is usually encountered when the person takes a large amount or mixes with a large amount of water and drinks quickly.  When the lobelia hits the back of the throat, it can cause the nausea (sometimes dizziness) effect, due to the chemical it contains called lobellicyonycin.

Interactions with Drugs or Medical Conditions

Lobelia may irritate the GI tract in people with pre-existing GI conditions.  People suffering from Chrons’ disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and ulcers should use caution when using lobelia.

Use caution with the following:

Psychiatric Medications:  This category includes antidepressants.  Lithium, anti-anxiety agents, and stimulants for ADD or ADHD

Nicotine substitutes: nicotine patches and gums including Chantix (Varenicline), which is a stop-smoking medication.  This medication affects dopamine levels in the brain and lobelia acts on the same receptors.  Tobacco:  including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco

Recommended Dosage

Powdered bark:  5-60 grains

Fluid extract: 10-20 drops

Acid tincture: 1-4 drachms

Tincure: 1-4 drachms

Etherial tincture (BP): 5-15 drops

Syrup: 1-4 drachms

Solid extract: 2-4 grains

Oil of seed: 1 drop with 20 grains of ginger and divided into 6-12 doses

Lobelin: 1/4-3 grains

Tea/herbal decoction:  1/2-1 dropper full may be added to a tea to help with respiratory complaints and to ease the respiratory effort if fighting an upper respiratory infection, cold or flu

Doses of up to 20 grams/day by mouth are safe, but never exceed this amount.  A dosage of more than 500 mg could be fatal.

Please seek professional consultation if you are pregnant, nursing have heart disease, are sensitive to tobacco, have a seizure disorder, paralysis, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, or recovering from shock before taking this herb

Pediatric:  No studies are currently available evaluating the safety of lobelia when used with children, however many herbalists have had success treating asthma and other respiratory conditions with no side effects, when lobelia is administered according to herbalist’s recommendations.

To Purchase Lobelia click here

Supporting Research

University of Maryland. (2015, February 1). Lobelia | University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/Health/Medical/AltMed/Herb/Lobelia

WebMD. (n.d.). LOBELIA: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings – WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-231-lobelia.aspx?activeIngredientId=231&activeIngredientName=lobelia&source=1

Horton, D. B., Siripurapu, K. B., Zheng, G., Crooks, P. A., & Dwoskin, L. P. (2011, October). Novel N-1,2-Dihydroxypropyl Analogs of Lobelane Inhibit Vesicular Monoamine Transporter-2 Function and Methamphetamine-Evoked Dopamine Release. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3186287/

Petruno, T. (2016, February 9). 8 Herbs for Healing the Throat Chakra — Sarah Petruno Shamanism – Philadelphia, PA. Retrieved from http://www.sarahpetrunoshamanism.com/blog/8-herbs-for-healing-the-throat-chakra

Lobelia – Wikipedia. (2016, August 13). Retrieved December 26, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobelia



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