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Lobelia (Lobelia inflata), also called Indian tobacco, has a long history of use in connection with respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and coughs. Lobelia was a common herb prescribed by early North American doctors.

Lobeline, the active constituent in the lobelia plant, is very similar to nicotine in its effect on the central nervous system. Lobeline acts as a relaxant overall while also dilating the bronchioles (air passages), thereby increasing respiration and possibly helping the lungs. Its anti-asthma activity consists of stimulating the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine, which causes the airways to relax.

Medicinal Indications of Lobelia

Lobelia is used in connection with the following conditions and/or their symptoms:

* Asthma
* Chronic bronchitis
* Pneumonia
* Symptoms of smoking withdrawal
* Spastic colon
* Spastic muscle conditions

Lobelia may also be used externally in connection with diseases of the muscles, joints and tendons that involve inflammation and degeneration.

Forms of Lobelia Herb

Lobelia is available in the following forms for internal use:

* Dried herb
* Liquid extract
* Tinctures

Lobelia is also available in the following forms for external topical application:

* Ointments
* Lotions
* Suppositories
* Plasters

Therapy should begin with the use of lower dosages and increase depending upon the individual's response.

Dosage and Administration

Recommended adult dose:

* Dried herb (infusion or decoction): ¼ to ½ tsp herb in 8 oz of water, preferably mixed with other herbs; steep 30 to 40 minutes. Take 2 oz four times per day. (This method is not preferred because of lobelia's acrid taste.)

* Liquid extract (1:1 in 50 alcohol): 0.2 to 0.6 mL three times per day
* Tincture of lobelia: 0.6 to 2.0 mL per day

Adjust the recommended adult dose to account for a child's weight. Most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb (70 kg) adult. So, if the child weighs 50 lb (20 to 25 kg), the appropriate dose of lobelia for this child would be 1/3 of the adult dosage.

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