Also known as
Indian Tobacco, Asthma Weed
Lobelia has a long history of therapeutic and ritual use. The native American plant was often smoked as a way to relieve asthma, and because a substance in the leaves, lobeline, is similar in effect to nicotine, the leaves are sometimes chewed or smoked to reduce cravings for tobacco. It is said to confer clarity of mind, and in more recent times has been smoked or drunk as tea. Lobelia has emetic and anti-spasmodic effects, which has led to it being used to treat asthma and food poisoning. It is a physical relaxant, and can serve as a nerve depressant, easing tension and panic.
Aerial parts during the seeding stage
Lobelia is best used as a tea or in smoking blends. It may be smoked directly but can be nauseating for some folks. Seldom found in extract and capsule form.
These days, lobelia is most often used as part of a smoking cessation program. The combination of lobeline to reduce the craving for nicotine and the expectorant action of the tea make it a powerful aid for those who want to quit smoking. Lobelia is also an emetic, and one of the fastest knowing antispasmodics known. It can be given to help relax bronchial spasms during an asthma attack, and is often used by herbal practitioners as a catalyst to prepare the body to accept another active ingredient.
Because of its similarity to nicotine, lobelia may be dangerous to susceptible populations, including children, pregnant women, and individuals with cardiac disease. Excessive use will cause nausea and vomiting. Not recommended for use by pregnant women. It is best administered by a practitioner qualified in its use.
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