(NaturalNews) Traditional herbalists consider lobelia to be one of the most powerful and useful herbs on the planet, and use it in a variety of herbal formulas. Lobelia is an adaptogen, or "thinking" herb, meaning it will take the beneficial phytochemicals in other herbs with it to the places in the body which need healing.
Lobelia is one of the best herbs for removing congestion, whether in the respiratory tract or in the central nervous system. It is also an effective detoxifying herb.
The FDA considers lobelia inflata to be a poisonous plant, with 166 references to its toxicity on file. However, practically every herb in the herbalist's tool kit is listed as a poisonous plant as well. There has been neither explanation nor any case files as to why the FDA considers these herbs poisonous.
Lobelia does cause vomiting when taken in large doses, but there have been no other consequences on record.
Lobelia is as effective as prescription Ciprofloxacin
While the FDA tried to get lobelia banned in the 1980s because of its plant alkaloids, those same alkaloids are now considered as valuable antivirals and anti-inflammatories.
In 2011, the Archives of Pharmacal [sic] Research reported finding 46 compounds in one variety of lobelia (lobelia chinensis) which had both anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, the plant isolate scoporone significantly inhibited free radicals, making lobelia an effective natural antioxidant.
Teas and tinctures from six different herbs were compared for their antibacterial effects on several strains of bacteria which cause diarrhea. The fluoroquinolone antibacterial Ciprofloxacin was used as a control standard.
The highest antimicrobial activity was found in both lobelia leaf tea and alcohol tincture. Lobelia, in combination with the herb known as desert date, was demonstrated to be effective even against Staphylococcus aureus.
Is lobelia the cure for epilepsy?
Scientists currently seem very excited about the possibilities of lobelia for epilepsy. In July 2012, the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine e-published a clinical study involving lobelia in epileptic mice. Lobelia was observed to stop convulsions and seizures by enhancing the GABA release mechanism in the brain. Lobelia also kept the mice in the test group alive.
Although more studies and human trials must be conducted, lobelia looks very promising as a treatment for epilepsy.
Will lobelia help people stop smoking?
Anecdotal evidence supports the idea that lobelia, nicknamed Indian tobacco, can help people stop smoking. This is because the plant chemical lobeline in lobelia is similar to nicotine in chemical structure and could be used as a nicotine supplement.
In addition, lobelia is believed to release dopamine, the neurotransmitter which affects mood and stimulates the pleasure center in the brain. Cigarette smoking produces a similar effect.
However, the Imperial Cancer Research Fund General Practice Research Group, Department of Primary Health Care, at the University of Oxford, Institute of Health Sciences says that lobelia is ineffective as an aid to quit smoking.
This research group's position is based on findings from the Cochrane Library, the most conservative scientific research fact-checking source in the world.
PubMed.gov, Archives of Pharmacal Research. 2011 May; 34(5):715-22. "Chemical constituents from Lobelia chinensis and their anti-virus and anti-inflammatory bioactivities." Kuo PC, et al. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21656355
PubMed.gov, British Medical Journal 2000 Aug 5; 321(7257):355-8. "Effectiveness of interventions to help people stop smoking: findings from the Cochrane Library." Lancaster T, et al. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10926597
PubMed.gov, Pharmacognosy Review. 2011 Jan-Jun; 5(9): 55-62. "A review on Balanites aegyptiaca Del (desert date): phytochemical constituents, traditional uses, and pharmacological activity." Daya L. Chothani and H. U. Vaghasiya1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210005/
Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.com, "Antiepileptic activity of lobeline isolated from the leaf of Lobelia nicotianaefolia and its effect on brain GABA level in mice." Abrar M Tamboli, et al. http://apjtb.com/zz/20127/7.pdf
About the author: Brad Chase is the President of ProgressiveHealth.com. His website provides articles and natural remedies to help people solve their health concerns.