Lobelia (Lobelia inflata), also called Indian tobacco, found in the eastern US and Canada, and has a long history of use as an herbal remedy for respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and cough. It was also useful for tobacco withdrawal as an herbal remedy to quit smoking. Lobelia is a fragile flower described as light bluish to violet in colour with a touch of yellow that can grow to a height of about three feet. It is a very popular garden plant that also has pale green or yellowish leaves. Lobelia contains expectorant, emetic, anti-asthmatic, stimulant antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, nervine therapeutic properties.
Rubbing lobelia tincture or extract on the shoulders of a restless child is an excellent way to help him go to sleep. Its extract is good to rub on gums of teething baby. A decoction can also be applied externally to minor skin irritations, and to treat sprains, and bruising. Another use of lobelia is to alleviate high blood pressure. Small doses (10-30 drops) repeated every 15 minutes along with deep breathing can rapidly reduce high blood pressure. Lobelia combines well with the tinctures of capsicum and black cohosh for this purpose.
Lobelia has also been used topically for insect bites and stings. It reduces swelling and eases pain. It seems to help counteract poisons in general and can be used to induce vomiting in food poisoning or other internal poisoning where throwing up would be beneficial. Lobelia is generally not taken on a daily basis, except for asthmatics or quitting smoking.
Usually it is reserved for acute ailments where there are obstructions in the body. In capsule form, one or occasionally two capsules are a sufficient dosage for most such problems. Because of the herb’s strength and possible toxicity, lobelia is often listed as poisonous. It is said to produce convulsions, coma and death. However, no one has ever died from taking lobelia and herbalists have used safely and confidently employed this remedy with newborn infants, weak and sickly people, and the elderly for over 200 years.