Herb Spotlight - Lobelia

Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)

Family: Campanulaceae

Part Used: Aerial Parts

Flavor/Aroma: Acrid, Diffusive

Energetics: Warming



Lobelia was widely known as an alternative for tobacco due to its botanical resemblance and similar flavor profile when smoked, earning its name Wild Tobacco. It is also notorious for its emetic ability, causing nausea and vomiting if over consumed. With the proper usage, Lobelia has many therapeutic benefits including soothing muscle spasms and relieving a heavy chest.¹


Lobelia grows as a biennial herb, with a sturdy, hairy stalk that can reach heights of 3 feet tall, bearing fuzzy textured leaves. It blooms pale-blue, petite flowers in the summer months, and produces a milky latex when crushed or cut. Its seeds are bloated in appearance, attributing to its name- inflata.

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Lobelia is naturalized globally, except portions of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It is harvested for its leaves and flowering parts during the summer months, as the blooms begin to express, or after all the flowers have finished blooming when collecting leaves.3  

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Lobelia is a low-maintenance herb that will grow in both the heat and in colder climates- making it a perfect addition to Southern Oregon garden beds and herbal medicine collections alike. As long as there is regular watering, Lobelia will produce showy flowers that provide local pollinators with nutrient dense sustenance.

History and Folklore:

Lobelia has been used in ceremonial practices as a smoked herb and as a smudge.³ The leaf was also used as a chew, producing a warming, sialagogue effect, similar to common tobacco. Lobelia was commonly used to remedy a variety of respiratory conditions, as well as supporting pulmonary health and healthy circulation; it was indicated for those with the feeling of a lapsed breathing, depleted circulation, and improve innervation.

Michael Wood is noted to have used Lobelia to treat unbalanced tongue patterns that presented as thick coatings, redness, or spasms of the tongue muscle.¹

Modern Applications:

Lobelia is indicated to support a variety of respiratory ailments including whooping and dry coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, and spasmodic asthma. Lobelia has been used to support muscular tension and promote relaxation of the entire skeletal muscular system. Lobelia is used to support those who wish to stop smoking nicotine products, by binding to nicotine receptor sites and mitigating cravings.2,3

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

1 Teaspoon per cup of water. Or it can be smoked. *May cause nausea when inhaled.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 


1-3 mL up to 3 times per day. *May cause nausea when consumed.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Recommended Usage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended usage amounts are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the usage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.


May cause nausea when consumed or inhaled. We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications.


  1. Lobelia (U.S.P.) (n.d.). www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/lobelia.html  
  2. Ashish, M., Gagandeep, K. (2005). A Review of Smoking Cessation Interventions. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1681582/#R92 
  3. Lobelia Inflata. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/lobelia-inflata

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.