Lobelia benefits

Lobelia benefits | HealthSoul

How Lobelia benefits were found?

Lobelia or Indian tobacco has the scientific name Lobelia inflata, it also earned the name “puke weed”. In the 19th century, it was a medical practice in America that lobelia had used to induce vomiting to expel out the toxic substance. [1]

Lobelia always gets special attention in the USA, as it is one of the primary ingredients in North American herbal history. In North America, the traditional medicinal practitioners recommended Lobelia to treat different respiratory symptoms like wheezing, chest spasm, cough, asthma, bronchial constrictions, etc. In folk medicinal practice, dried Lobelia leaves sprinkled over the burning coal to inhale the vapor to resolve to wheeze. Teas and tincture preparation of Lobelia used to treat bronchial constriction, asthma and severe cough, neuronal tension, and muscular spasms. During the 18th-19th century, historical medical journals mentioned that Lobelia used to treat diphtheria and angina. In the 1930s, “A Modern Herbal” journal published an article of Maude Grieve, where it had mentioned that a poultice made up of a combination of Lobelia and Ulmus bark powders used to treat respiratory problems. Even in the present century, herbalists prescribe Lobelia formulations for expelling out the mucus from the respiratory tract. [2]

Apart from the above mentioned medicinal application, Lobelia was also famous for substituting nicotine. People used Lobelia as anti-smoking purposes. Recent research result also found that Lobelia can counteract the nicotine effect by controlling the release of dopamine. But FDA had already banned Lobelia containing smoking products due to insufficient satisfactory evidence which supports Lobelia’s helps people to quit nicotine smoking. [1]

What are the Phytochemicals present in Lobelia?

Lobeline, lobelanine, and lobelanidine are three piperidine alkaloids present in Lobelia. Other phytochemicals like beta-amyrin palmitate and lobelic acid are also present in Lobelia. Apart from these, fixed oil, gum, resin, mineral salts like potassium, calcium and ferric oxide are also present in Lobelia.

Lobelia seeds contain the highest quantity of Lobeline, which acts on beta nicotinic receptors as both an agonist and antagonist. Therefore, it releases dopamine and norepinephrine and mimics nicotinic action, whereas it also reduces the effects of amphetamines and induces sleep. [2]

Phytochemical Present in Lobeloa | HealthSoul

What is the mode of action of Lobelia health benefits?

Lobelia leaves and seeds are usually used for medicinal purposes. The primary active ingredient of Lobelia, α-Lobeline has a significant effect on the central nervous system as it partial agonist of nicotinic action. This phytochemical also activates carotid and aortic body chemoreceptors and provide strong stimulating action on the respiratory tract. This helps to treat asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, and chronic pneumonia. α-Lobeline also has significant action on the neuromuscular system and peripheral circulation.

Lobelia and its active constituent like α-Lobeline have a dose-specific effect. In a smaller dose, it acts as an expectorant and stimulates respiratory functioning. But in a larger dose, it acts as an emetic, diuretic, and purgative. At the initial stage, α-Lobeline acts as CNS stimulation and then but later it causes CNS depression.  [3]

The respiratory benefit of Lobeline is obtained due to inhibiting the release of catecholamines from adrenal glands. An animal research study reported that Lobeline present in Lobelia blocks the calcium ion flow into chromaffin cells present in the adrenal gland without affecting the calcium ion release from cytoplasmic storage. [2]

Cough is reflex action and the upper respiratory tract receives input from juxtapulmonary capillary receptors. Lobelia acts on juxtapulmonary capillary receptors and controls the air pressure passage to the upper respiratory tract. Thus it acts as an expectorant, which is effective to reduce pressure on the upper respiratory tract and also relax chest congestion.

Animal research findings supported that Lobelia smoothens the breathing process by acting on pressure receptors present on carotids arteries.

Lobelia is effective to reduce wheezing sensation and treat asthma conditions. This benefit of Lobelia may achieve due to the release of prostacyclin from the lungs. The increased release of prostacyclin from the lungs decreases vascular contraction and supply sufficient oxygen. [2]

How Lobelia Prevent & Cure Disease | HealthSoul

What are the different forms of Lobelia?

In herbal medicine, Lobelia is available in different dosage forms. Such as:

  • Liquid extracts
  • Tinctures
  • Dried herb capsules
  • Lobelia tea
  • Skin ointments, lotions, and plastics.

The dose determination of Lobelia is very important to get health benefits. It is recommended that start with a low dose and gradual dose escalation depending upon the patient’s response. It is always better to consult with an herbal expert to determine the dose of medicine. [1]

Different Forms of Lobelia& Their Uses | HealthSoul

Lobelia uses

The aerial parts (mainly leaves and seeds) of Lobelia are primarily used in medicinal purposes. In homeopathy medicine practice, Lobelia is recommended for many different purposes, such as

  • Smoking cessation
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin infections ( may occur due to an insect bite, ivy poisoning, and ringworm)
  • Different respiratory disorders

In general, Lobelia is used for respiratory disorders, like asthma, bronchitis, bronchospasm, cough, respiratory congestion, pulmonary hypertension, etc. The recommended dose of Lobelia is 975 mg (which should contain 180 μg of lobeline) twice a day. [1,2]

In America, the dose of Lobeline is followed as mentioned in standard pharmacology texts. In 1970, published standard pharmacology texts had recommended the intramuscular dose of lobeline hydrochloride was 20 mg, which is equivalent to 5 g of Lobeline powdered leaf. [3]

Lobelia benefits respiratory ailments

Maryland Medical Center suggested that Lobelia is used to provide relief from respiratory ailments. The phytochemicals present in Lobelia acts as an expectorant and treat different chronic and severe respiratory conditions, such as whooping cough, asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

Lobelia uses in food poisoning

Lobelia has an emetic property and useful to vomit out all the toxic and contaminated substances to cure the condition.

Lobelia benefits in pain

Topical application of lobelia can treat muscle ache and joint pain. The analgesic property of Lobelia is effective to control rheumatoid arthritis pain symptoms. It also gives instant pain relief for insect bites and bruises.

Lobelia use in nicotine addiction

Lobelia has a similar type of effect like nicotine, but it acts differently. Nicotine induced blood vessel contraction, raising of heart rate, hypertension conditions are not arising with Lobelia. Lobelia using as nicotine substitute does not cause contraction of blood vessels and lower down blood pressure, heart rate, impart muscle relaxation.

Gynecological benefits

Lobelia improves blood flow and reduces menstrual cramps. This herb eases child delivery by reducing pelvic stiffness. [4]

Lobelia side effects

A high dose of Lobelia has a toxic effect. More than 1gm per day Lobelia can cause a toxic effect. [3] Dry mouth, nausea, vomiting,  profuse sweating,  convulsion, rapid heartbeat,  diarrhea, are common side effects with moderate to a high dose of Lobelia. The higher dose of Lobelia can cause hypothermia,  mental confusion, coma, and even death. Therefore dose determination for individual patients is very important to avoid side effects. There is no pediatric study to evaluate the safety profile of lobelia to treat children. Therefore, it is better not to use Lobelia containing medicine for pediatric use unless an expert physician has been recommended the treatment.

Different Forms of Lobelia & Their Uses | HealthSoul

When should I avoid Lobelia?

Hypertensive patients and individuals having cardiovascular disease, liver disorder, kidney problems, epilepsy, paralysis, tobacco sensitivity, and at the trauma phase should not use Lobelia. Lobelia can cause gastric irritation. Individuals having Chron’s disease, gastric ulcers, intestinal infections or inflammatory bowel disease should avoid Lobelia.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, women should not take Lobelia to avoid unnecessary adverse effects. Lobelia may interact with the following medications, though the detailed research has not yet proven these interactions. Patients who have undergone the treatment with an antidepressant, anti-anxiety, Lithium, and stimulants medications should avoid Lobelia. Tobacco containing cigarette smokers and those who using Nicotine substitutes and varenicline (Chantix) medication to stop smoking habit should not use lobelia to avoid drug-drug interactions.


  1. Lobelia. PennState Hershey. Milton S. Hersey Medical Center. http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000264

  2. Stansbury, Jill; Saunders, Paul Richard; Zampieron, Eugene R. The Use of Lobelia in the Treatment of Asthma and Respiratory Illness. Journal of Restorative Medicine, Volume 2, Number 1, 1 October 2013, pp. 94-100(7). https://restorativemedicine.org/journal/use-lobelia-treatment-asthma-respiratory-illness/
  3. Lobelia (Lobelia inflata). https://restorativemedicine.org/library/monographs/lobelia/
  4. Maanasi Radhakrishnan. 6 Medicinal Uses And 8 Side Effects Of Lobelia Herb. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/medicinal-uses-and-side-effects-of-lobelia-herb/#gref