There are many reasons for coughing, ranging from colds and flu to allergies, asthma, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer or choking on a piece of food. Many coughs develop into tight congestion in the chest with little or no expectoration. It is often necessary to take a cough medicine or remedy that loosens the tightness in the chest and produces a productive cough, allowing the patient to cough up phlegm and mucus. Lobelia inflata, or Lobelia, is an effective expectorant treating many types of coughs, and is available in various forms to meet most needs.
History and Uses
Traditionally, Lobelia was called Indian tobacco because Native Americans smoked the herb to treat asthma. It was also used by American doctors in the 1800s as an emetic to cause vomiting, which would expel toxins from the body. In addition, it was used for a variety of serious upper respiratory conditions like bronchitis, pneumonia, and other ailments that had a concomitant cough. Lobelia is still used today, primarily to treat coughing and to help clear mucus from the lungs and airways. Although there isn’t a lot of scientific research available on the efficacy of Lobelia, hundreds of years of anecdotal and clinical evidence stands behind the use of this potent herb.
The herb Lobelia is available dried for making tea or in liquid extracts. It is used primarily to help relieve serious coughing and other related diseases such as bronchitis, asthma and spasmodic, deep coughing. Lobelia is bitter tasting and making tea out of the dried herb is not the best way to take it for your cough. If you use the liquid extract, mix the prescribed amount of drops in juice or water before drinking. Do not self-treat with lobelia. Contact a natural health practitioner or herbalist familiar with using this herb for dosing guidelines.
Homeopathic remedies work by administering minute doses of an irritant or substance to an individual to stimulate the her immune system, which then proceeds to heal the body of illness. Homeopathic lobelia is considered safe to use for the treatment of upper respiratory conditions, as long as it is used according to directions from a qualified homeopath familiar with its use. Homeopathic lobelia is useful for the treatment of asthma and for constrictive coughing where the patient has trouble breathing. It is indicated when the person complains of a feeling of heaviness or a weight on the chest. A guiding symptom indicating the need for lobelia is when the patient complains of feeling itchy or prickly all over just before an attack of coughing. The remedy should help a cough that has a ringing sound.
Safety and Precautions
In its herbal state, lobelia can be potentially toxic when used in large quantities; however, there are no known cases of death in either humans or animals caused by lobelia, according to NYU Langone Medical Center. It may produce short-term side effects including a dry mouth, nausea, tremors, sweating, rapid heart beat, cognitive dysfunction and convulsions leading to coma. Avoid using lobelia in herbal form if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney or liver disease, seizures, shortness of breath or sensitivity to tobacco.
Homeopathic lobelia does not provoke reactions like those mentioned above from herbal lobelia, but proper dosing in important regardless of which form of Lobelia is administered. Herbal lobelia is not recommended for use in pregnant or nursing women or in young children.
University of Maryland Medical Center: Lobelia
University of Maryland Medical Center: Asthma
“Materia Medica and Repertory”; William Boericke; 1987
NYU Lanone Medical Center: Lobelia
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