Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Lobelia - Pretty Useful

Lobelia - Pretty UsefulLobelia is a pretty annual or with some varieties a biennial herb that grows to a height of one metre. Lobelia is also known as the Indian tobacco. It has a hairy stem that branches out at the top. The colour is usually green with a hint of violet. The leaves are pale green or yellowish with a sharp taste and a slightly unpleasant smell. The flowers are coloured pale violet-blue on the outside and a pale yellow colour inside.

Lobelia is basically an expectorant, so it is commonly to use in cough syrups. It is also called asthma weed. It is prominent in remedies for treating asthma and bronchial disorders. The herb can be used externally in the form of a hot compress for sprains or swelling ailments.

Going back in time, it has a history of being used as herbal remedy for respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and coughs for centuries. As with many herbs the Native Americans Indians used to use countless herbs before commercialism took over. The Lobelia herb was smoked and was found very effective as a treatment for asthma.

Lobelia - Pretty UsefulAmerican doctors in the 19th century used lobelia to bring on vomiting, this was to remove toxins from the body. The nickname 'puke weed' came form this. Lobelia helps clear mucus from the respiratory system with some herbalists now incorporating lobelia to treat asthma.

A substance similar to nicotine is found in lobelia and it effects on the body just like nicotine. The central nerve system is stimulated from this. The substance, which is called ‘lobeline’ was previously used as a nicotine substitute in anti-smoking products and deterrents. This faded out as after a time, it was reported as an in affective method of reducing or stopping smoking in the latter part of the 20th century.

Lobelia is a potentially toxic herb, but safe to use in very small doses. In combination with other herbs that treat the respiratory system is considered safe.

Lobelia - Pretty UsefulFinally, it is not recommended that you try to make you own herbal remedies from this herb, but take advice from professional herbalist to protect you from the potential toxins that this herb can present. That does not preclude you from growing lobelia as an ornamental plant, as it is a very pretty herbal species that will enhance any garden.

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