Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Utilization & Unwanted Effects Of Lobelia

Lobelia has been used for respiratory illnesses for centuries.

Lobelia is an herbal medicine. Its scientific name is Lobelia inflata, but it is also known as asthma weed, Indian tobacco, wild tobacco, gagroot, bladderpod, Lobelie, pukeweed and vomit wort according to WebMD. Lobelia is an annual or sometimes biennial plant up to three feet tall with pale green or yellowish leaves. Only the above-ground parts of the plant are used--primarily the leaves and seeds. WebMD recommends consulting a knowledgeable health care practitioner before taking lobelia.

Native American Uses

Native Americans used lobelia, often by smoking it, to help treat respiratory illnesses, like asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and cough.

19th Century Uses

American physicians used lobelia in the 1800s to remove toxins in the body via vomiting.

21st Century Respiratory Treatments

Lobelia is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates pharmaceutical medications. Herbalists, however, use the herb to help treat respiratory illnesses. It is believed the herb can help clear mucus from the respiratory tract, including from the throat, lungs and bronchial tubes. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends consulting a knowledgeable health care practitioner before taking the herb.

Lobelia as a Stop-Smoking Aid

In 1993, the FDA banned the sale of lobelia as a stop-smoking aid, but there is evidence to suggest lobelia may reduce the effects of nicotine, particularly the associated release of dopamine. According to the University of Maryland's Medical Center, some scientists believe the herb has potential to help treat addictions with dopamine-related issues under the proper medical supervision.

Lobelia as a Topical Treatment

Lobelia is prescribed by herbalists as a topical treatment for muscle pain, rheumatic nodules, sprains, bruises, poison ivy, insect bites and ringworm. As lobelia can have dangerous side effects, however, consultation is necessary for its safe administration.

Homeopathic Uses

Homeopathic treatments use lobelia independently or with other products to help patients stop smoking, relax muscles, decrease nausea and vomiting and for respiratory problems.

Potential Side Effects

Lobelia is considered a potentially toxic herb, according to the University of Maryland's Medical Center, and dosage is important for proper treatment. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, profuse sweating, tremors, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, convulsions, mental confusion, hypothermia, coma, and death. Side effects may depend on interactions with other herbs, supplements or medications that are not yet understood.

Those Who Should Not Use Lobelia

Those with certain conditions may be at greater risk of side effects and should not take lobelia, according to the University of Maryland's Medical Center. Those conditions include heart, liver or kidney disease, high blood pressure, tobacco sensitivity, seizure disorders, paralysis, shortness of breath and those recovering from shock. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, likewise, should not take lobelia.

Possible Interactions

Because so little is understood about the chemical effects of lobelia, physicians recommend those taking certain medications or substances not use lobelia, as they may present an increased risk of side effects. These include psychiatric medications, stimulants--such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medications--nicotine substitutes, Chantix (a prescription stop-smoking aid) and tobacco.

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