6 Medicinal Uses And 8 Side Effects Of Lobelia Herb

Written by Maanasi Radhakrishnan
Last Updated on

Do you rely on the effectiveness of a cup of tea in banishing your Monday morning blues? What if we were to tell you that a less known variant of tea – the Lobelia tea, will not just chase away your drowsiness, but also benefit you in numerous other ways?

Sounds incredible, doesn’t it?

Apart from making you active in the morning, Lobelia tea has numerous other uses and benefits. Would you like to know more? Keep reading ahead!

Lobelia – An Overview

Found mostly in the Eastern part of the USA and Canada, Lobelia is a herb that is characterized by violet-pinkish flowers and bushy growth. The major regions where it grows in abundance include British Columbia, Arkansas and Nebraska. The perennial flowering herb is also called Indian tobacco and has been used by Native American tribes for centuries for its numerous medicinal and healing properties (1).

The tree is bushy in nature, and even in the wilderness, the length of the plant does not exceed 1.5 feet. The flowers begin blooming at the beginning of summer and autumn months. There are several variants, and the flower color can range from deep blue to violet and sapphire white.

Named after noted French botanist Mattias del Lobel, Lobelia has anti-spasmodic, anti-asthmatic and expectorant properties. It works both as a stimulant and relaxant on the nerves. When used with other herbs in small doses, it works as a stimulant (2). When used in larger doses, it works as a relaxant.

Its main ingredients are isolobelanine and lobeline. You can find Lobelia in various forms in the market nowadays – like capsules, extracts, dried herbs and tinctures. It is available in regular herbal shops, and you can also find Lobelia extracts and powder at online stores.

Ideal Dosage

To be on the safe side, it is advisable that you begin using Lobelia in small amounts, whether you use tincture or dried powder. If you find no side effects, increasing the dosage slowly can be safe. On an average, adults can take it in a dosage of 20 mg a day. You may talk with a medical professional to find out the apt dosage for lobelia.

Major Uses Of Lobelia Herb

Lobelia has been used since several centuries by aboriginal tribes for medicinal needs. While a number of studies have been carried out on such properties – the results remain scientifically inconclusive. However, its use has been found effective in treating certain medical conditions, even in the modern times.

  1. As per the suggestion of Maryland Medical Center, lobelia can be used to get relief from several respiratory ailments (3). Herbalists have recommended its use for treating respiratory conditions and disorders, including bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma and pneumonia. Lobelia works as a herbal expectorant, and hence it helps cleanse your respiratory tract and lungs. The ingredients of lobelia speed up the expectorant action in the human body.
  1. Way back in the 19th century, Native Americans and doctors used the herb to induce vomiting in people. This way, it can be used to eliminate toxins from the human body and can help cope with food poisoning. For this reason, lobelia was also called puke weed.
  1. Lobelia is also used in topical ways to alleviate muscle pain and joint lumps triggered by rheumatoid arthritis. It is also used to treat instances of insect bites and bruises (4).
  1. The major ingredient of lobelia, namely lobeline, is said to possess qualities similar to Nicotine, though scientific studies have not corroborated this claim. Despite a lack of scientific proof, lobelia has been used extensively as a smoking cessation product in the market. Nicotine works on specific receptors in the human nervous system to raise heart rate, blood pressure and contract blood vessels. Interestingly, lobelia works in the opposite way. It brings down blood pressure, heart rate, relaxes muscles and dilates the blood vessels. Studies also indicate that it may be effective in treating drug addiction.
  1. The herb eases muscles and improves the blood flow in the human body. Thus, it can help alleviate menstrual cramps and muscle cramps (5). As a matter of fact, in the 19th century, it was used to reduce pelvic stiffness during childbirth.
  1. Apart from its medicinal usage, a lot of people plant lobelia in their gardens for beautification needs. The blooming plants look beautiful and attract hummingbirds. The bright flowers and nectar also lure lots of butterflies. The plant grows in sunny places, but afternoon shades are also suited for its growth.

[ Read: Benefits Of Hyacinth Herb For Skin, Hair And Health ]

Lobelia Tea Benefits

As is the case with many other herbs with healing and medicinal properties, lobelia’s advantages can be best obtained when you use it to make an infusion and drink as tea.

Following is the way to prepare lobelia tea.

You Need:

  • Dried lobelia leaves
  • Water
  • Honey/stevia

The Procedure:

  1. You will need to heat up water in a pot and then add a spoon of dried lobelia leaves in it.
  2. Let it steep for 5 minutes or so, and strain the leaves.
  3. Before drinking the tea, add some honey to it. It will help enhance the flavour and eliminate the pungent taste. You may also use other herbal teas to enhance the flavour.

Following are the major benefits of lobelia tea:

  • You may offer lobelia tea to people who want to quit smoking. It acts as a nice and natural alternative to e-cigarettes or other smoking cessation products.
  • Drinking this tea helps soothe tensed nerves. So, you can drink this herbal tea to overcome stressful moments.

To avoid any toxicity or health problem, limit the consumption of lobelia tea to two cups a day.

[ Read: Benefits Of Rue Herb For Skin, Hair And Health ]

Side Effects And Risks Of Lobelia Consumption

Despite the widespread perception that lobelia is toxic for human consumption, eating lobelia extract or drinking the tea is not harmful. However, overuse in any form can lead to a number of side effects. Documented side effects caused by overuse of lobelia are:

  1. Profuse sweating
  2. Diarrhoea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Dizziness
  5. Nausea
  6. Rapid heartbeat
  7. Coma
  8. Coughing

Usage of lobelia tea can result in an interaction with nicotine substitutes and psychiatric medications. Hence, you should be cautious about its intake. For safety, women who are breastfeeding and pregnant should not use this herb. While there are hardly any documented cases of death caused by the use of lobelia, the side effects are not exactly negligible, and so you should consume it under medical supervision.

A cup of tea can be refreshing and healing at the same time! So, why not bring home this wonderful brew and kick start your day with renewed energy and vigor!

How has this post helped you? Have you consumed lobelia tea before? Do tell us by commenting in the box below.

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Maanasi Radhakrishnan
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