Facts and benefits of Lobelia

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Facts and benefits of Lobelia

Lobelia Quick Facts
Name: Lobelia
Scientific Name: Lobelia inflata
Origin Eastern North America, from southeastern Canada
Shapes Globoid seed capsule that is about 1/3" across
Taste Pungent, bitter, Acrid
Health benefits Improves Blood Flow and treat depression
Lobelia inflata commonly known as Lobelia, Indian tobacco, Pukeweed, Asthma Weed, Gagroot, Vomitwort, Bladderpod, Eyebright and rapuntium inflatum is a flowering herb that is named after the Belgian botanist, Matthias de l’Obel. The plant belongs to Campanulaceae family and is native to Eastern North America, from southeastern Canada (Nova Scotia to southeast Ontario) south through the eastern United States to Alabama and west to Kansas. It has been considered to be one of the most valuable herbal remedies ever discovered, according to Potter’s Encyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. Lobelia has historically been used and appreciated for a number of functions, including toxin removal, craving control, and, perhaps most notably, its ability to relieve problematic respiratory symptoms.

Plant Description

Lobelia is an erect annual or biennial herbaceous plant that grows about 15–100 centimeters (5.9–39.4 in) tall. The plant is found growing in open deciduous woodlands, savannas, thickets, areas along woodland paths, powerline clearances in wooded areas, partially shaded seeps, and abandoned fields. It prefers soil that contains loam, clay loam, or rocky material. Poor soil is readily tolerated, although this will stunt the growth of the plants somewhat. The plant is taproot. Angular stems have bristly white hairs; these hairs are less abundant on the upper stems.


Alternate leaves are up to 2½” long and 1″ across, becoming smaller as they ascend the stems. They are lanceolate to ovate in shape and crenate or bluntly dentate along the margins. The upper surface of each leaf is largely hairless, while the lower surface has a few hairs along the major veins. The lower leaves have short petioles, while the upper leaves are sessile.


Flower is up to 1/3″ long; it consists of a tubular corolla with 5 spreading lobes and a short tubular calyx with 5 teeth that are long and spreading. The corolla is light blue-violet, light purple, or white. It has a cleft upper lip consisting of 2 small lobes and a cleft lower lip consisting of 3 lobes that are somewhat larger. The interior of the corolla is primarily white; its lower interior has 2 small yellow patches and tufts of fine white hair. Flowering takes place from Jul to August.


After summer, this herbs fruit ripens into small inflated seedpods that are about 1/3 inch across. This capsule is completely enclosed by the persistent green calyx. Seed capsule is divided into 2 cells and contains numerous tiny seeds; these seeds are small enough to be blown about by the wind.


American Indians smoked the leaves as tobacco and used them medicinally for respiratory ailments. Similar folk uses for asthma, chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, cholera, and many other conditions were recorded. Lobelia’s emetic properties were well known in the nineteenth century. There are no recent clinical studies to support specific dosage of linden. Classical use of the flowers was at a dosage of 2 to 4 g daily in a tea for coughs and colds.

Health Benefits of Lobelia

Lobelia, also called Indian tobacco, consists of numerous curative benefits and has been used by the Native Americans for hundreds of years to treat ailments. It is a well-known ingredient in some traditional healing systems. Though it contains various medicinal properties, it has toxic properties and can be poisonous when consumed in substantial quantities. Below you will find some of the most important health benefits of Lobelia.

1. Improves Blood Flow

Lifestyle patterns and medicinal conditions are actually main causes for blood circulation problems. High blood flow is a heart condition with a feeling of a dull aching and tension in the chest, which may also involve sharp pain and sudden spasms in the chest.

Lobelia herb helps calm a fast heart rate while there is little tension in the arteries. The herb slows down the heart rate by increasing arterial tension and the force of the heart. It can also help a fatty heart or an over-dilated heart.

2. Improves Urination

Due to its diuretic nature, lobelia is commonly used to promote healthy urination. Healthy urination helps to removes toxin build-up, purifies blood and prevents kidney stones. The whole plant of the Lobelia variety has the diuresis-inducing properties.

3. Helps treat depression

It is said that lobelia has been used to treat depression but this has not yet been proved. Homeopathy says that lobelia is a muscle relaxant. However, it can interact with certain anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drugs. So, make sure to check with the doctor before consuming it. It would be sensible to start taking lobelia in lower doses along with other herbs and then increase the dose if you don’t happen to experience any adverse reactions. You can have it as a tea by adding a few drops in warm water.

4. Sweat-Inducing

Abundant sweating helps to flush out toxins and can also reduce fever by cooling the body. In such cases, inducing perspiration helps cleanse the body. It was again the botanist, healer, and staunch proponent of lobelia usage, Samuel Thomson, who used this plant as a sweat inducer in the early 1800s.

5. Anti-Smoking Aid

Quitting cigarette smoking is one of the best way to reducing the risk of life threatening diseases. You have to choose an effective method to help you quit gradually. Lobelia herb is one of the effective options.

The lobeline, a property contained in the seed of this herb acts as alternative to nicotine. Although it’s not as addictive as nicotine, it is the best in helping a tobacco addict get rid of nicotine addiction. It is always important to consult with a doctor before consuming lobelia. Over use of lobelia may cause toxic effects in the body.

6. Stimulant and Relaxant

Lobelia consists of isolobelanine (respiratory relaxant and an emetic) and lobeline (that is a potent respiratory stimulant). This herb has a depressant action on the autonomic nerve systems and the central nerve systems. The herb when combined with other herbs and administered in small dosages helps to increase the effectiveness.

7. Eases Muscular Tension

Many traditional medicine systems have used lobelia to help reduce muscle spasms. Leaves and flowers are used in many medications. It has been known to treat a jaw disorder, where the movements of the jaw muscles become stiff. It is used only as an external application. Oral consumption or application on the broken skin can cause adverse effects.

8. Remove Toxins from the Body

In case of food poisoning, Lobelia is administered in higher dosage to induce vomiting. This will help clear the stomach of toxins, like excessive alcohol consumption and food poisoning. It’s the reason why it was given the name “puke weed” as it induces vomiting. Thus, eliminates toxins from the body.

9. Respiratory health

Research has proven that lobelia can be used to help treat respiratory illnesses. Herbalists say that this herb is beneficial for bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma, and pneumonia. Lobelia herb is also an expectorant, which means that helps in clearing mucous from the respiratory tract and lungs. Studies are too few to show whether this herb is actually effective in treating respiratory issues.

10. Alleviates Anxiety

Lobelia herb is known to work really well on anxiety attacks. A few drops of lobelia tincture will help calm him or her. This herb relaxes the muscles and reduces cramps, tension, and spasms. It also works on the respiratory tract and enhances calmer, deeper breathing.

Traditional uses and benefits of Lobelia

  • Root of this plant was used by the Iroquois to treat venereal diseases, ulcers, and legs sores.
  • Leaves were smashed and applied as a poultice to treat an abscess at the side of the neck.
  • Plant was used to counteract sickness produced by witchcraft.
  • The Cherokee mashed the roots of Indian tobacco and used them as a poultice for body aches.
  • Leaves were rubbed on sores, aches, stiff necks, and chapped places.
  • It is also said that plant material is burned as a natural bug repellent to keep away insects such as mosquitoes.
  • Native Americans used lobelia to treat respiratory and muscle disorders, and as a purgative.
  • It is used mainly as a powerful antispasmodic herb in the treatment of respiratory and muscle disorders.
  • Dried flowering herb and the seed are antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant and nervine.
  • Plant is taken internally in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough and pleurisy.
  • Alkaloids present in the leaves are used to stimulate the removal of phlegm from the respiratory tract.
  • Plant is used in treating pleurisy, rheumatism, tennis elbow, whiplash injuries, boils and ulcers.
  • Whole plant is harvested when the lower fruits are ripe and it is used fresh or dried.
  • Tincture can be used as a local application for sprains, bruises, or skin diseases, alone, or in powder combined with an equal part of slippery elm bark and weak lye-water in a poultice.
  • It improves earache.
  • Lobelia is good herbal remedy for ceasing smoking Addiction.
  • It curbs respiratory discomforts like Bronchitis, Cold, Breathlessness, Pneumonia, congestion, whooping cough, Asthma, Spasmodic croup and Diphtheria.
  • It curbs Muscular troubles like Sprains, swelling, sore muscles and convulsions.
  • It suppresses body ache.
  • It is an antitode of bee stings, scorpion and snake bites.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Lobelia

  • Alcoholism: Drink tea made from Lobelia. OR Inhale the smoke of Lobelia.
  • Insect bites, bruises: Make a poultice of the plant and apply externally to the affected area.
  • Autism: Prepare a tea made from leaves of Lobelia.
  • Lungs: Boil 5 to 10 fresh leaves of Lobelia in water. Inhale the steam 2 to 3 times in a day. It will melt the thick mucus and expels it from the lungs.
  • Convulsions: Put half tsp of powdered Lobelia leaves in one cup of water. Boil it. Simmer for 10 minutes. Drink it twice daily.
  • Asthma: Take Lobelia, Thyme and Ephedra. Prepare decoction and drink 2-3 times a day.
  • Bronchitis: Take Verbascum Thapsus, White horehound, coughwort and Lobelia. Prepare a decoction. Take two to three times a day.
  • Abscess: Prepare a poultice of Slippery elm, wild sage and Lobelia. Apply it on affected area.
  • Abscess: Prepare a poultice of mullein (3 parts) and Lobelia (1 parts). Apply it on affected area.
  • Arthritis: Take one part of Cayenne, 3 parts Lobelia, 6 parts Verbascum Thapsus and 9 part Slippery Elm bark. Put 6 tbsp of this mixture in boiling water and make a thick paste. Coat the paste on a soft cloth and apply on the affected area.
  • Earache: Add two tsp of Lobelia oil in same quality of olive oil. Warm. Use it as an Ear drop.
  • Cuts: Make a paste by adding three tbsp of comfrey and one tbsp of Lobelia. Apply it over the affected area. It will cure the cuts more quickly.
  • Bursitis: Prepare a tea by adding two tsp of Burdock roots and ½ tbsp of Lobelia leaves. Take two times a day.
  • Fracture: With this cup of tea calcium supplement is also needed. Prepare a decoction of the following herbs.4 tbsp of Horsetail grass, 3 tbsp of Comfrey root, 2 parts of oats, 1 part of Lobelia. Have two cups two times a day.
  • Mumps: Take Mullein and Lobelia in 3:1 ratio. Prepare a paste. Apply it as a fomentation.
  • Sty: Take equal amount of Verbascum Thapsus leaves, Raspberry leaves, Goldenseal roots, Slippery Elm leaves, Lobelia leaves and Common Marshmallow leaves. Grind them together. Apply as a fomentation.
  • Fatigue: Take one tsp of each lobelia and Skullcap. Mix half tsp of lemongrass and infuse in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Drink Lukewarm. It relaxes tense muscles.
  • Insomnia: Combine Lobelia and Valerian in equal quantities and make tea. Drink Luke warm for a restful sleep. It is useful for easing stress.
  • Asthma and Bronchitis: Mix equal amount of liquorice 6 parts by weight, Slippery elm 3 parts, lobelia one parts. Start slowly by baby steps to find your own dose. Once relief sets in start reducing the dose. Effects are miraculously fast in mild cases. Say a few days. Severe cases may take long. Say a few months.

How to Consume Lobelia

The most effective way of obtaining lobelia’s health benefits is through medicinal consumption, where quantities can be easily controlled. Lobelia can be taken by mouth or be applied topically.


Main preparations: Capsules, infusion, extract, tincture, cream, salve

  • Capsules: In this medicinal form, lobelia capsules can expel phlegm from the respiratory system through its expectorant properties. It also works as an antidepressant.
  • Extract: As an extract, lobelia expels phlegm from the respiratory system thanks to its expectorant properties, clearing airways.
  • Infusion: As the main preparation, lobelia hot tea has numerous medicinal benefits, which include reversing water retention due to its emetic properties. It also eases withdrawal symptoms for those who are trying to give up tobacco products.
  • Tincture: In this concentrated medicinal form, lobelia tinctures induce vomiting through emetic properties.
  • Cream: When applied topically, lobelia creams ease muscle spasms.
  • Salve: In this form, salves applied topically can ease muscle spasms.

Other Facts

  • Crow used the plant in religious ceremonies.
  • Plant has been burnt in order to smoke out gnats.


  • It contains the alkaloid lobeline which has a similar effect upon the nervous system as nicotine.
  • Do not use during pregnancy and lactation. It may cause vomiting or some defects in your baby.
  • Prolonged use may result in inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • It may cause stomach ulcers, bowel problems and Crohn’s Diseases.
  • People suffering from kidney disease, liver disease and high blood pressure should avoid its consumption.
  • It causes rapid heartbeat among people with heart disease.
  • Excess doses cause nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and respiratory failure.
  • Avoid if high blood pressure, tendency to fits and heart disease.
  • This remedy should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.
  • When chewed, the leaves induce vomiting, headache and nausea – in larger doses it has caused death.


















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