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Lobelia inflate


Lobelia inflate


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Lobelia, asthma weed, bladderpod, emetic root, gagroot, Indian tobacco, lobelia, pukeweed, vomitroot


Lobelia inflate is considered a restricted herb in some countries. Its history of use dates back hundreds of years in Europe and in North America where it has been used as an alternative to tobacco.

Growing to a height of a little over a meter, L. inflate is found growing most commonly in sunlit grasslands across Easter North America, though it is now heavily cultivated as bedding plants. The purplish, pubescent stem yields dark green, toothed, ovate leaves which grow to a length of 8cm; the largest of the leaves growing nearer to the base of the plant. Beginning in midsummer and continuing into the fall, L. inflate yields small, sparse flowers with a purple exterior and yellow interior.

Origin / Habitat

L. inflata is an annual, occasional biennial, flowering herb native to the eastern half of the North American continent. It is cultivated globally for use as bedding plants. It requires full sun or only partial shade, and well drained soil.

Chemical Constituents

L-lobeline, lobelanine, norlobelanine, isolobinine, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, chelidonic acid, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Potassium, Pyridine-alkaloids.[1],[2],[3],[4]

Plant Part Used

Freshs or dried herbs, seeds.

Medical Uses


Respiratory Infections
Bronchial Disorders
Whooping Cough


Most Frequently Reported Uses

Respiratory Infections
Bronchial Disorders
Whooping Cough

Other Reported Uses

Smoking Cessation


Dosage Range 

Infusion: 2- 3g of dried herb steeped in 8 ounces boiling water for 10 minutes. It may be taken up to 3 times per day. The infusions may be made from the seeds which must be crushed prior to infusing in water.

Most Common Dosage

There is no common dosage information available for L. inflate.

Standardization Dosage

There is no common standardization for L. inflate as it is typically used in whole herb form.



The alkaloid lobeline has been found to affect dopamine metabolism by inhibiting dopamine uptake and promoting its release. Further exploration of this action led researchers to determine that use of lobeline in an animal model reduced the amphetamine induced dopamine release in animals dosed with amphetamine and methamphetamine. No symptoms of addiction were noted.[5] Further examination of this action has been demonstrated with lobelane, a synthetic version of the alkaloid.[2]

The traditional use of L. inflate as a tobacco product (Indian Tobacco) has been examined is several studies investigating the potential role of L. inflate in smoking cessation.[6] Original thought was that the active, Lobeline, was a nicotine agonist. However further investigation has revealed that it is the role in dopamine metabolism that is the mechanism that warrants further investigation.[7]

L. inflate has also been studied for its anti-depressant activity in several animal models.[8],[4] The active determined to be responsible for this actions is beta-amyrin palmitate, isolated from the leaf of the plant.[7]


No documentation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, L. inflate should not to be used in combination with medications for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, or lung disorders.

Should be avoided by anyone taking medication for schizophrenia or related mental disorder.

Not to be used in combination with any prescription drug therapy.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

The potential side effects and possible interactions with other drugs are significant with this herb.  Therefore it should only be used when recommended by a trained professional.

L. inflate has been known to cause tachycardia.[10]


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

Keep out of reach of children.

Adverse reaction

Large doses of the pyridine alkaloid, lobeline, can cause vomiting, paralysis, coma and death.[9]

L. inflate is considered to have psychoactive properties and should be avoided without careful guidance by a licensed practitioner.[10]

Read More

  1)  Native America Herbs


  1. Duke, James A. Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1992.
  2. Neugebauer NM. Lobelane decreases methamphetamine self-administration in rats. Eur J Pharmacol. 24 Sep 2007;571(1):33-38.
  3. Felpin FX. History, chemistry and biology of alkaloids from Lobelia inflate. Tetrahedron. Jan 2004;60(45):10127-10153.
  4. Subarnas A. An antidepressant principle of Lobelia inflata L. (Campanulaceae). J Pharm Sci. Jul 1992;81(7):620-621.
  5. Dwoskin LP. A novel mechanism of action and potential use for lobeline as a treatment for psychostimulant abuse. Biochem Pharmacol. 15 Jan 2002;63(2):89-98.
  6. Lim DY. Influence of lobeline on catecholamine release from the isolated perfused rat adrenal gland. Auton Neurosci. 30 Jan 2004;110(1):27-35.
  7. Subarnas A.Pharmacological properties of beta-amyrin palmitate, a novel centrally acting compound, isolated from Lobelia inflata leaves. J Pharm Pharmacol. Jun 1993;45(6):545-550.
  8. Teng L. Lobeline displaces [3H]dihydrotetrabenazine binding and releases [3H]dopamine from rat striatal synaptic vesicles: comparison with d-amphetamine. J Neurochem. Jul 1998;71(1):258-265.
  9. Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis MPF. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man’s Health. NY: Wiley-Interscience; 1977.
  10. Miller LG, Murray WJ. Herbal Medicinals: A Clinician’s Guide. NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press;1998.

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