Some plants have a reputation in natural medicine for being nothing short of miraculous. Take Lobelia inflata, an herb that people sometimes rely on to quit smoking. Though the FDA declared in 1993 that lobelia was not an effective ingredient for this goal, there are still many sources that will tell you this herb is a must-try for those who are looking to stop smoking.
While lobelia may not be scientifically proven to dull cravings, the herb has shown potential to benefit your respiratory system in other ways. The herb may be prescribed to counteract a wide range of respiratory challenges. Lobelia is also commonly taken as a muscle relaxant. The herb has also been given prominence in that herbalists and botanist Samuel Thomson valued its ability to protect from illness.
One of the most effective ways of taking lobelia is by tincture. A lobelia tincture can be readily purchased, but many individuals choose to make their own tincture. Making a lobelia tincture can be an effective way to find a recipe that fits your personal needs. Some ingredients used to make lobelia tinctures, such as cayenne, are common and easy to come by while others take a more concentrated effort and dedication to access.
Respiratory Support and Muscle Relaxation
Lobelia’s effectiveness for combating respiratory challenges is thought to be due to the alkaloid lobeline. Lobeline binds J receptors, which are sensory nerve endings in the lungs. Lobeline may support coughing in desired situations as a “counter irritant.” Another way Lobelia might support healthy respiratory function is by relaxing muscles so that the lungs are not under so much strain when they are at work.
Lobeline is also thought to be responsible for lobelia’s effectiveness as a muscle relaxant. Lobelia has been used for a wide range of goals related to muscle health, such as easing muscle tensions and promoting the flow of lymph and blood. Relaxed and healthy muscles can lead to other benefits, such providing temporary relief from intestinal gripes, menstrual cramps and muscle cramps. Lobelia has even been known to be used by midwives to counteract pelvic rigidity during birth.
Examples of Lobelia Tinctures
One may want to try a commercial lobelia tincture before getting ingredients to make one at home. Once you are familiar with your body’s response to lobelia, creating your own tincture at home can be a cost-effective and rewarding method for experiencing the herb’s potential benefits.
A common approach for a tincture of lobelia will feature red pepper, cayenne or both. One recipe calls for three parts lobelia to one part capsicum, which is a combination of red pepper and cayenne. Another recipe aimed at symptoms of a tight dry cough include two parts Petasites, two parts Grindelia, two parts Sillingia, and only one part of each lobelia and capsicum. It is recommended that when taking the latter tincture, breathe steam to complement the herbs. Reduce the frequency of use if nausea occurs.
Rather than being simply digested, a lobelia tincture can also be effective as a hot infusion. One recipe calls for two cups water and two cups vinegar to be boiled together, before adding a cup of dry lobelia leaves. The leaves are steeped for 15 minutes like a tea, then strained. A small towel is soaked in the infusion and put over the area of chest or lungs that requires attention. The person using this method may want to place a hot pack over the towel or a topical castor oil to encourage absorption through the skin.
Lobelia inflata is a fascinating herb both in origin and use. It may not have the magical properties some advertise it for, but it has plenty of uses. Whether by tincture, tea, hot pack or capsule, lobelia has the potential to support your respiratory or muscular health.