Lobelia inflata was used in the 19th century as a medicinal herb to induce vomiting as a means to remove harmful toxins from the body, which explains one of its names “puke weed.”
Lobeline is a piperidine alkaloid found in the plant and gives rise to the therapeutic claims surrounding it.
The herb is thought to stimulate the respiratory center of the brain resulting in deeper and stronger breathing.
Lobelia inflata is a bronchodilator and antispasmodic which explains its popularity as a medicinal herb for asthma, spasmodic croup and pneumonia.
The herb has been used to ease anxiety and panic attacks. It has also been used externally to reduce swellings and as a pain reliever.
The plant has been used traditionally as an herbal remedy for insect bites and stings.
Lobelia is often considered a herb that is useful for tobacco withdrawal and as an herbal remedy to quit smoking.
While there is no information that consolidates this view, historically, lobelia has been used as an alternative to tobacco.
Lobeline is also believed to have a similar chemical action to nicotine and this too could give reasoning behind its use in tobacco withdrawal.
However, it is vital to note that this herb can have risks that outweigh its benefits. It has been known to cause vomiting, dizziness, hypothermia, convulsions and even death.