Lobelia inflata, commonly known as lobelia, gagroot, asthma weed, pukeweed and wild tobacco, is a flowering perennial herb native to Canada and the eastern region of the US. Lobelia flowers throughout summer and continues to bloom until first frost knocks. It is easy to grow and requires minimal care. The plant produces abundant flowers colored blue, violet, red, and pink. In full bloom, lobelia brings life, beauty, and vibrancy to a garden.
[Note: The Right Flowers is not a medical site. Knowledge of and information about the therapeutic benefits and applications of flowers, while known through the ages, does not constitute medical advice. If you are having health issues, you should consult with a physician.]
Lobelia has been used in homeopathic and herbal medicine for years. Traditionally, Native American tribes dried the flowers and smoked them to relieve asthma symptoms. In the 19th century, the plant was widely recommended and prescribed by American physicians to induce vomiting for patients who had ingested poisonous substances.
Basically, lobelia contains many beneficial alkaloids including morphine, caffeine, lobeline, and nicotine. However, the most popular compound in lobelia is lobeline, an alkaloid with the ability to treat respiratory problems and assist addicts manage their withdrawal symptoms. Lobelia is used to relieve respiratory conditions including the common cold as it is known to help in clearing airways and expelling mucus from the respiratory tract.
Lobelia assist addicts to kick their habits
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One of the unique things that make lobelia stand out among its herbal peers is the potential it holds in assisting addicts to kick their habits due to the presence of lobeline. Scientists have discovered that lobeline is similar to nicotine. This explains why it is used to treat addiction.
In a study published in Physiology & Behavior journal in 2009 researchers sought to investigate the therapeutic effects of lobelia against addictive disorders using mice. The mice were given alcohol in their drinking water and administered with lobeline injections for 5 days.
After 5 days, researchers noticed that lobeline significantly reduced alcohol preference and consumption. Researchers concluded that lobeline, a nicotine receptor, had the potential of treating alcoholism.
Apart from helping alcoholics recover from the habit, lobelia has been used to assist smokers to manage the effects of nicotine withdrawal. The alkaloid is known to achieve this by boosting dopamine levels in the brain.
Before 1993, lobelia was promoted as an effective product for helping people manage withdrawal symptoms. However, in 1993, the FDA banned the products citing a lack of sufficient evidence supporting these claims.
Treatment for mood disorders
Lobeline is thought to have the ability to help in treating mood disorders such as depression and anxiety by blocking receptors in the brain which are responsible for the development of mood disorders, including depression.
Lobelia is fondly referred to as the asthma weed for a good reason. Lobeline assists people struggling with asthma attacks to control chest congestion, wheezing and coughing. The alkaloid also assist muscles in the respiratory tract to relax, clear mucus from the lungs, and stimulate breathing. As a result, the plant is used to treat bronchitis and pneumonia.
Though lobelia has been widely used by alternative cure enthusiasts to treat respiratory tract problems, no conclusive studies have been conducted using humans to authenticate these claims.
Lobelia is truly a unique flower: it is beautiful, is not fussy and holds the potential of helping addicts kick their habits.