Lobelia inflata


Image I


Image II
Botanical Name: Lobelia inflata
Common name: Lobelia (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 563), Indian tobacco (Costa, Giese, Isaac, Kyomitmaitee, Reynolds, Rusie, Ulbricht & Zhou, 2013).
Family: Campanulaceae (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 563)
Parts used: Aerial parts (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 563)


  • Piperidine alkaloids: lobeline, lobelanidine (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 563)
  • Lobeline is known as “wild tobacco” and “pukeweed” (leaves) (Heinrich, Barnes, Gibbons & Williamson, 2012, p. 96).
  • Chelidonic acid
  • Misc. resins, gums and fats

(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 563)


  • Anti-asthmatic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Expectorant
  • Emetic
  • Nervine

(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 563)



Lobelia has a depressant action on the central nervous system (CNS), autonomic nervous system (ANS) and neuromuscular activity. Active constituent lobeline has peripheral and central effects similar to that of nicotine, however is less potent. It acts by causing CNS stimulation and then respiratory depression.


Primary specific use is for bronchial asthma and bronchitis (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 563).


Other traditional indications include

  • Respiratory problems from exalted nerve force and nerve irritation
  • Spasmodic asthma
  • Whooping cough
  • Spasmodic croup
  • Membranous croup
  • Infantile convulsions
  • Puerperal eclampsia
  • Epilepsy
  • Tetanus
  • Hysterical paroxysms
  • Hysterical convulsions
  • Diphtheria
  • Tonsilitis
  • Pnemonia

(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 563)


Preparation & Dosage

Tincture (1:5 in 40%) 0.5-1mL/tds

Infusion: 0.25 tsp dried herb/1 cup water/tds



  • According to secondary sourced all parts of the plant are potentially toxic, therefore the herb is not to be taken in large doses (Costa et al., 2013)
  • Indication in asthma is conflicting, due to its potential respiratory stimulatory effect (Costa et al., 2013; Hoffmann, 2003, p. 563)



  • Contraindicated in cardiovascular disease as it may raise heart rate and create hypotension
  • In individuals using CNS depressants
  • In individuals using nicotine
  • In pregnancy due to potential emesis

(Costa et al., 2013)



In the treatment of Asthma, combines well with Cayenne, Grindelia, Pill-Bearing Spurge, Sundew and Ephedra (Hoffmann, 1990, p. 212)


Costa, D., Giese, N., Isaac, R., Kyomitmaitee, E., Reynolds, A., Rusie, E., Ulbricht, C., & Zhou, S. (2013). Lobelia. Natural Standard Professional Monograph. Retrieved from: http://www.naturalstandard.com.ezproxy.think.edu.au/databases/herbssupplements/indiantobacco.asp?

Heinrich, M., Barnes, J., Gibbons, S., & Williamson, E. (2012). Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Hoffmann, D. (1990). Holistic Herbal. London: Thorsons

Image I: Köhler, F. (1897). Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen Retrieved from: http://pharm1.pharmazie.uni-greifswald.de/allgemei/koehler/koeh-eng.htm

Image II: Singh, M. (2006). LOBELIA INFLATA. Retrieved from: http://www.homeopathyandmore.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=764

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