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Herb Reference Guide

Lobelia

History

Lobelia is named after French Botanist Matthias de L'Obel (1583-1616). The plant is a member of the Lobeliaceae Family and is native to the Northeastern United States and Canada. There are over 350 different species of Lobelia spanning the globe. The herb native to the Northeastern US (Lobelia inflata) was also commonly referred to as; Indian tobacco, Asthma Weed, and Vomitwort. It has a long history of use medicinally and was regularly imported into England from the US as a nursery species and a medicinal plant. Samuel Thomson (9 February 1769-5 October 1843) was a self-taught American herbalist and founder of the alternative system of medicine known as “Thomsonian Medicine”, which enjoyed wide popularity in the United States during the 19th century. He was responsible for popularizing the use of Lobelia, Cayenne, and other herbs during his time. Dr. John Christopher said that Lobelia is one of the greatest herbs in the world. It is certainly one of the most disputed herbs in the world¸ yet those who use it consider it to be indispensable in their herbal repertoire, acting as a “thinking” agent which goes to whatever part of the body is ailing and addresses it, often in conjunction with other herbs. Dr. Christopher considered that Lobelia would help correct the entire bodily system, as it is easily diffused and utilized."

Function

Lobelia has a history of use supporting respiratory health. Lobelia contains several alkaloids that appear to provide some nicotine-like stimulation during smoking cessation. Clinical trials with one isolated alkaloid, lobeline, showed mixed results in people trying to stop smoking. Lobelia itself is the preferred form as it is much less likely to cause nausea than the isolated chemical lobeline. Also, it is likely the combination of constituents results in its effects.

Uses of Lobelia

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Lobelia contains, among many other phytochemicals: Alkaloids, Ascorbic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Lobeline, Lobelanine, and Pyridine Alkaloids.

Parts Used

  • Herb and Seed

Important precautions

Not for use during Pregnancy or Lactation.
For Professional use only.

Additional Resources

Davison GC, Rosen RC. Lobeline and reduction of cigarette smoking. Psychol Reports 1972;31: 443-56
Damaj MI, Patrick GS, Creasy KR, Martin BR. Pharmacology of lobeline, a nicotinic receptor ligand.

J. Pharmacol. Exp Ther. 1997 Jul;282(1):410-9.

Mazur LJ, De Ybarrondo L, Miller J, Colasurdo G. Use of alternative and complementary therapies for pediatric asthma. Tex Med. 2001 Jun;97(6):64-8.

Pizzorno, J.E. and Murray, M.T. 1985. A Textbook of Natural Medicine. John Bastyr College Publications, Seattle, Washington

Yarnell E, Abascal K. Nicotine addiction; Natural remedies for an epidemic. Natural Pharmacy 2001; 5(9):1,11-13, 22.