Lobelia - Lobelia Inflata

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This Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) monograph is an excerpt from the 1999, first edition of Dr. Sharol's book "Herbal Medicine From The Heart of The Earth." You can purchase the 2020, third edition of this book with an expanded materia medica/monograph section, herbal formulas and directions on making herbal products in Dr. Sharol's Book Store. You receive free shipping in the USA.

Lobelia - Lobelia inflata in the Lobeliaceae or Bluebell family

Part used: Aerial portions with ripe seed.

Taste/smell: Very acrid.

Dosage: Infusion: 1 teaspoon of dry herb per cup of water; or 1:2 fresh  strength acetract (vinegar extract) or 1:2 fresh strength liquid extract: 1-10 drops, 1-6 times per day.

Mental picture and specific indications: Lobelia is for conditions of a spasmodic nature. It is specific for dyspnea increased with exertion and aggravated by exposure to cold.

Use: (a) Stimulant, (b) Diaphoretic, (c) Expectorant, (d) Antispasmodic, (e) Emetic.

Lobelia is a diffusive stimulant, best used where arterial action is strong. It equalizes the circulation of blood in the body. It is used for spasmodic coughs like croup, whooping cough, bronchial asthma, bronchitis and pleurisy.

Lobelia is for conditions of a spasmodic nature. It is specific for dyspnea increased with exertion and aggravated by exposure to cold. It is used for spasmodic coughs like croup, whooping cough, bronchial asthma, bronchitis and pleurisy. It is used externally as well as internally as an antispasmodic. Internally it is given in small frequent doses. Too large of a dose will initiate vomiting. Externally, it is used as a liniment over the chest for spasmodic conditions of the lungs.

Lobelia's constituent, lobeline, has been used as a treatment for nicotine addiction because it acts similarly to nicotine on autonomic ganglia.

Contraindications: Lobelia is contraindicated in nervous prostration, shock, paralysis, pneumonia, fluid around the lungs, heart disease and high blood pressure due to alpha-adrenergic hypertensive effects of lobeline. It is also contraindicated during pregnancy due to similarity of lobeline to nicotine. An overdose can cause nausea and vomiting. Some sensitive individuals experience nausea and vomiting regardless of the amount consumed.  Lobelia usually does not cause toxicity because the emetic effect produces vomiting and rids the stomach of the plant. But if an overdose is consumed and vomiting occurs but does not rid the body of all the lobelia, possible reactions include weakness, stupor, tremors, paralysis, rapid breathing and pulse, hypothermia, pinpoint pupils, sweating, prostration, unconsciousness, convulsions, coma and death. Contact with the leaves may cause dermatitis. The plant should only be used under the guidance of a qualified health care practitioner. Reports of toxicity due to lobelia are vague and have been questioned by the herbal community, where no one seems to have seen any side effects except nausea and vomiting. Note: For an excellent review of lobelia toxicity see Medical Herbalism 1998;10(1):1-16.

If you are looking for directions on making teas or tinctures, please see our "Making Herbal Products" page.

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Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.

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