Native to the northeastern U.S., lobelia is now growing throughout all the states.
All parts of it are possessed of medicinal activity, but the ROOT and inflated capsules (SEEDS) are the most powerful. The plant should be collected in August and September when the capsules are numerous and should be carefully dried. The herb must be placed upon its end when drying so the seeds do not drop out of the capsules. It may be kept whole or in powder. In the seed is a volatile oil.
The dried lobelia has a slight odor when chewed, though first without much taste, soon produces a burning, acrid impression upon the posterior parts of the tongue and palate, very closely resembling that produced by tobacco and attended, in like manner, with a flow of saliva and a nauseating effect upon the stomach. The powder is of a green color. The PLANT yields its active properties readily to water and alcohol. The seeds must be crushed.
It is also called “Indian tobacco” and “vomit root.” As an emetic, it is very powerful.
Lobelia is among the medicines which were much employed by the Indians in this country. It is considered one of the most valuable remedies and is extensively employed. It is claimed there is nothing known to man that will so effectively clear the air passages of the lungs of viscid matter.
The disease in which it has proved most useful is spasmodic asthma, the paroxysms of which it often greatly mitigates and sometimes wholly relieves, even when not given in doses sufficiently large to promote active vomiting.
Lobelia is one of the greatest equalizers of the circulation and gives a full outward flow of blood. Its influence reaches every organ and almost, if not quite, every tissue of the body. In influencing the circulation, it also influences the nerves; sympathetic, central, and spinal. Its range is wide, especially in acute troubles.
Lobelia is best suited when arterial action is strong and when given in more or less putrescent conditions. Its continuance should be brief, only sufficient to cleanse and then use more stimulating treatment. Lobelia is NOT BEST in nervous prostration, paralysis, gangrene, or shock.
Lobelia is a most efficient relaxant, influencing mucus, serous, nervous, and muscular structures. It influences the glandular system, the fauces, and the respiratory tubuli. It is a good rule to always take a stimulant before using lobelia or to combine a stimulant with it.
It is used in cough, bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough, pneumonia, hysteria, convulsions, suspended animation, tetanus, febrile troubles, spasmodic or membranous croup, pleuritis, hepatitis, peritonitis, nephritis, phrenitis, otitis, ophthalmia, rheumatism, occlusion of the gall ducts, strangulated hernia, rigid os uteri, and is extremely useful as an emetic when the stomach should be thoroughly cleaned.
In puerperal convulsions, use the following: 2 dr. FX. lobelia, 4 Dr. Fl. X ladies’ slipper, M Dr. tincture cayenne, and simple syrup sufficient to make 6 oz. Dose—1 t. every 1/2 hour.
It is one of the best aids in surgery where relaxation is required, especially in dislocations for which take regularly and frequently and apply locally.
In cases of infantile coughs and bronchitis, when the child seems likely to be suffocated by phlegm, a dose will remove the obstruction.
In convulsions, combine with blue cohosh.
The acid tincture of lobelia is made as follows: lobelia herb and crushed seed each 2 oz. and 1 pt. best malt vinegar. Steep in a closely stoppered bottle for 10 days to 2 weeks, shaking every day. Strain and bottle for use. If the vinegar is brought to the boiling point before adding, it will be ready to use at once.
This also has been used as an external application, rubbing it bitween the shoulders and on the chest in asthma and most helpful in cases where breathing has been most difficult.
To make a pleasant, yet efficient remedy for croup, whooping cough, and asthma, fill a bottle 2/3 full of the acid tincture and add sugar or honey to fill the bottle. Shake until dissolved.
The acid tincture can be added to horehound, hyssop, sage, or other teas ( 1 t. to 1 C. ) in coughs, asthma, and colds. Can be used as an emetic if the stomach should be cleaned.
What is known as anti-spasmodic tincture is used in many violent cases such as epilepsy, convulsions, lockjaw, delirium tremens, fainting, hysteria, cramps, suspended animation, spasms, and is considered unequalled in the whole realm of therapeutic remedies in these cases.
It is valuable in sluggish cases as it arouses the system to dislodge semi-putrescent material and to quickly stimulate and equalize the circulation. It is excellent in sick-headache, dyspepsia, and in the incipiency of apoplexy. When life hangs in the balance or where effects are required on short notice, the anti-spasmodic tincture can be relied on.
The anti-spasmodic tincture is made as follows: all in powder—1 oz. each crushed lobelia seed and herb, skunk cabbage root, skullcap, gum myrrh, valerian, and 3» oz. cayenne. Infuse for 1 week in 1 qt. best brandy in closely corked, wide-necked bottle. Shake well daily. After 1 week, strain and press out the clear liquid, it is then ready for use.
A drop or two on the tip of the finger, thrusting the finger into the mouth of a baby in convulsions, has stopped them at once.
In mucous and spasmodic croup, the anti- spasmodic tincture must be administered promptly and in full teaspoonful doses in warm water and repeated every 10 to 15 minutes until free vomiting ensues.
Where the case is severe or the anti-spasmodic tincture is difficult to administer, as in the case of infants, rub well into the neck, chest, and between the shoulders. At the same time 2 or 3 drops of the tincture in a raw state should be placed in the mouth and washed down with 1 t. dose of warm water and the patient kept warm in bed. Repeat every 1 or 2 hours, if necessary.
In scarlet fever and other febrile conditions, in typhoid, typhus, spotted (spinal meningitis), black or slow fever, especially malignant scarlet fever use 1 t. anti-spasmodic tincture in a little warm water and give every /2 hr. until the patient is easier. Then get 2 qts. hot water and 1 qt. best malt vinegar. Mix and wash entire body, then wipe dry. Be sure patient is kept warm. Then give 1 t. of anti-spasmodic tincture in warm herb tea every 2 hrs. Wash with vinegar and warm water every day.” He claims scores of scarlet fever patients were saved with this method after hope was given up for their recovery.
In rheumatic fever, rub the whole body from neck to toes with the anti-spasmodic tincture, and if the case is bad, so that he cannot sit up or move arms or legs, give 1 t. anti-spasmodic tincture in a little hot water every 1/2 hr. until free perspiration ensues. Keep patient in bed, allow to cool down, and then wash the whole body down with vinegar and hot water. After this give anti-spasmodic tincture in teaspoonful doses in hot water every 2 hrs. for 1 day, then every 3 hrs. for a few days. Sponge down daily with hot water and vinegar.
For rattlesnake bite take equal parts of anti-spasmodic tincture and tincture lobelia, FE skullcap and FE valerian, 3/4 t. in warm water every 5 min., in a strong infusion of black cohosh.
A very useful preparation is the syrup of lobelia: boil 3/2 oz. lobelia herb in 2 pints water down to 1 pt. Strain and dissolve in the liquid by low heat 2# sugar. This is useful in coughs, etc. but will be emetic if taken in large doses.
The acid syrup of lobelia is made as follows: 1 pint each lobelia syrup and malt vinegar mixed together. Dose 1/4 t. is excellent for asthmatic cough.
Lobelia capsules are made as follows: all in powder, 1 oz. each lobelia seed, lobelia herb, cayenne, aniseed, and 2 oz. gum arabic. Mix and fill into #4 capsules.
These are useful in dyspepsia, rheumatism, inflammation, asthma, consumption, chills, jaundice, and fevers. Dose, 4 to 10 a day as required.
In scarlet fever, etc., when necessary, dissolve a quantity of the contents of a dozen of the capsules in 3/4 C. hot water and give as the anti-spasmodic tincture, following directions about bathing the body.
Where lobelia is used as an emetic, always have some stimulating tea before. Peppermint or composition tea is useful in this connection.
Very weak persons can take emetics when they are needed; even an occasional emetic may be given to consumptives. Also valuable in puerperal fevers. Give to cleanse and stop; repeat only as required.
The oil is less stimulating and less likely to produce emesis.
To make lobelia pills, mix together the following all powdered, 3/2 gr. lobelia seed, 1 gr. ladies’ slipper, 1/2 gr. cayenne with extract of boneset of sufficient quantity to make pills. Dose, 1 pill every 4 hrs. as required. This is considered an excellent preparation where profound relaxation is desired without emesis. It is excellent in peritonitis, lung, and bronchial troubles, especially for bronchial cough and painful conditions in any part of the body.
A paste is made of lobelia and bi-carbonate of soda mbbed well into inflamed or poisoned sores. Keep surface moistened with lobelia tincture. The pain will cease quickly.
In a case of strangulated hernia, a strong decoction was ad- ministered by the rectum, as a substitute for a narcotic.
Lobelia may be used in substance, i.e., the powdered herb or seed, in Fl X, acid tincture, infusion, decoction, pills, or capsules, in syrup, by enema, and in poultice.
The dose of the powder is 3-10 grs. and as an emetic is from 5 to 20 gr. to be repeated, if necessary. The tincture is most frequently used, and this is considered as the U.S. official preparation. The full dose of this preparation for an adult is 1/2 fl. oz. though in asthmatic cases it is better administered in the quantity of 1-2 fl. dr., repeated every 2 or 3 hrs. till its effects are experienced.
The infusion is made of 1 oz. powdered herb in 1 pt. boiling water. Allow to stand covered. Take in doses of 1/2 to 1 wine- glassful.
All accumulations of mucous are instantly removed after a. full dose of the infusion and many lives have been saved by its timely use.