Lobelia inflata is an herb that is used to treat many ailments. In the past, it was used to tobacco users with withdrawal, but in modern day, we’ve found many other uses for the herb. It’s found in Canada, everywhere from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. It’s also found in the eastern portion of the United States, all the way down to
Lobelia is a flower that’s blue to violet in color. It can grow to the height of three feet and is a very popular garden plant for many reasons. It’s categorized as an annual or biennial. The main parts of lobelia that are used are the flowering parts and the seeds. The seeds are the most potent because they contain lobeline, a piperidine alkaloid.
It was used by Native Americans to treat body aches, sores, and bee stings. While they were correct in using the herb to help with these problems, they were incorrect in using it as a tobacco substitute, as it’s dangerous in large doses. Harmless uses for the herb that did not include consumption included burning to keep gnats away, and some tribes used it during religious ceremonies.
Lobelia was named after Matthias de Lobel, a 17th century botanist. It’s sometimes known as “Indian Tobacco” because it contains lobeline, and was wrongly used by Native Americans as a smoking herb. Lobeline is believed to have an effect on the body similar to that of nicotine and was used as an alternative to tobacco, despite the fact that it was just as dangerous, if not more, than tobacco. In the 19th century, lobelia was also used as a medicinal herb to induce vomiting, which would remove harmful poisons from the body.
One of the largest benefits of lobelia is the many breathing problems it assists with. While it can help with larger issues like whooping cough and bronchitis, it can also help with something as simple as shortness of breath after strenuous activity. You can find the essential oils from lobelia and mix them with any sort of drink, but tea or water are the best options.
Those with trouble sleeping or relaxing may find that drinking a mixture of water, lobelia, red pepper and cayenne pepper will help ease restlessness. It can also be applied to the skin to help with muscle pain, bruises, or insect bites. Studies have also found that it may help ease the itchiness of poison ivy.
While lobelia does have its benefits, it is considered to be a toxic herb because of its lobeline affiliation. It’s nickname “puke weed” was given for good reason, as it was often used to induce vomiting. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea, tremors, rapid heartbeat, and possibly even death. Therefore, dosage should be monitored closely. It should also be noted that using lobelia while pregnant or while also taking water pills is strongly discouraged.
Hannah Clark is a talented young writer who is quickly making a name for herself. She has been writing for Smokable Herbs since July of 2015. Hannah’s interests include nerd culture, Star Wars, video games, and 80’s pop music. Follow her Facebook page for updates.