Lobelia: The Herb that Aids Smoking Cessation


Lobelia, also known as Indian tobacco or puke weed, is a flowering herb that is was formerly used as a substance during for people who want to quit smoking. In reality, lobelia refers to a wide range of flowering plants; the other varieties include Lobelia cardinalis and Lobelia siphilitica but the most popular variety is the Lobelia inflata.

Due to its beautiful flowers, lobelia plants are often planted in window boxes and the garden to beautify the environment. However, because of this, its healthy components are usually overlooked.




For so many years, lobelia has been used by aboriginal tribes for medicinal purposes. Although several studies have been conducted on its potential properties, the results remain have been inconclusive. However, the plant has been found to be effective in the treatment of some medical conditions.

It is important to note that lobelia is not addictive, but it contains certain chemicals that show almost the same effects as nicotine. Interestingly, instead of being addictive, the herb helps people overcome their nicotine addiction. Lobelia contains components such as vitamin, calcium, alkaloids, magnesium, C, potassium, as well as other antioxidants like lobelanine and lobeline.


The Health Benefits of Lobelia

The health benefits of lobelia include boosting the immune system, stimulating the respiratory system, and supporting smoking cessation, among many others.


a male smoker


Aids Smoking Cessation

Lobelia contains a key chemical called lobeline that has an effect similar to nicotine on the body. It occupies the same chemical receptors in the body and of course, the brain. However, it is not an addictive substance. Lobelia should be taken in moderate doses as it is often recommended for people who desire to quit smoking.


Improves Respiratory Health

Lobelia is popular as a potent anti-spasmodic and is particularly used in the treatment of respiratory problems. For people who experience asthma attacks, drinking a tea made from lobelia can reduce inflammation and lower the urge to cough, as well as other problems associated with breathing.


Induces Sweat

Excessive sweating helps to eliminate toxins and also lower fever by cooling the body’s temperature. Lobelia induces perspiration, which in turn, helps to cleanse the body.




Alleviates Depression

Though it has not been proven, lobelia may be able to help with depression, especially as it relaxes the muscle. Be advised that there may be potential interactions with certain anti-anxiety drugs or anti-depressants, so it’s best to consult your doctor. Lobelia should be taken in small dosages and in combination with other herbs, after which, you can then build up if there are no adverse effects.


Improves Urination

Owing to its diuretic properties, lobelia is usually used to aid healthy urination. Healthy urination helps to eliminate the buildup of toxins, cleanses the blood and inhibits kidney stones.


Used for Cleansing

Lobelia isn’t called “puke weed” for nothing.  According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, in the 19th century, American doctors administered lobelia to patients to help them remove toxins by inducing vomiting. But in homeopathy, the herb is used to reduce nausea and vomiting. It is worthy to note that excessive consumption of lobelia can result in nausea, sweating, or dizziness. Pregnant mothers or nursing women are also advised not to take lobelia.


Relaxes the Muscle

Lobelia has muscle-relaxing properties and so can be consumed or topically applied to soothe muscle tension and strain, which can help people who suffer from sleep problems.


Treats Ringworm

Lobelia is usually administered for its topical health benefits, and when prepared as a poultice or salve can be applied to the spot of a ringworm infection. A regular application for about a week can effectively treat the infection.




Acts as an Expectorant

Not only does the herb reduce inflammation in the respiratory tracts, it also helps in expelling phlegm and mucus from the sinuses and respiratory tracts, a place where pathogens and certain foreign particles can be lodged.


Other Health Benefits

Lobelia has impressive anti-bacterial and diaphoretic properties which help in treating bronchitis and insect bites. The herb is also incredible for lung cleansing.



The different plant parts of lobelia all have multiple uses, including the flowers, bark, stems, and leaves. They actually come in the different forms:

  • Essential oil
  • Tea
  • Poultice
  • Tincture
  • Extract

The studies conducted on lobelia indicate some limitations in determining the effects of the herb, but when prescribes for smoking cessation, the dosage should not be more than 5 mg twice daily. Since this dosage is really close to being toxic, you should be cautious when using lobelia and check with your doctor.




Precautions and Side Effects

Lobelia has a lot of health benefits, but it also has some well-documented adverse effects, including excessive sweating, gastrointestinal problems, and cardiovascular disease, among many others. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should steer clear of this very powerful herb. Some of the other common side effects of lobelia include:

  • Dizziness
  • Coma
  • Inflammation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Respiratory issues

Like we stated earlier, using lobelia can lead to an interaction with psychiatric medications and nicotine substitutes. That is one reason to be cautious about its consumption. To be safe, pregnant woman and breastfeeding mothers should avoid the use of this herb. There are hardly any reported cases of death resulting from the use of lobelia, but the above mentioned side effects should not be overlooked and should be consumed under medical supervision.

Lobelia is not just refreshing, but it is healing!