I must admit to spending more time researching and writing about lobelia than actually using it. If prizes were given for spending the most hours on a thesis I would probably win first prize. I spent three weeks, Monday through Saturday researching, and putting together all this information. Most of those days were ten plus hours, some days, I started at 7:00 and kept at it till past 10:00 with only short breaks throughout the day. If you figure, 18 days at an average of 10 hours a day it comes to 180 hours. If you figure my time as being worth $10.00 an hour, this thesis is worth $1800.00.
Even though I have spent more time writing about the marvelous properties of lobelia than putting it to use I love to use it. After learning so much more about it, I’m sure I will use it even more in the future. It is certainly an herb I would never want to be without. Several years ago, we grew some lobelia plants to sell. At the time I knew very little of the wonder of the plant and enough of the warnings to be afraid of it. Because of this, I never did anything with it and what we didn’t sell, died right in its pots. After that, we decided not to bother growing it as it was too dangerous to use anyway being a “poisonous” herb. How I would long to have those plants now. I tried unsuccessfully to germinate the seeds this spring and last year. It’s important enough to me though, that I think I will place a special seed order, to try growing my own lobelia again.
The first person to receive lobelia from my hands, as I recall, was my little sister. We were planning on having a family outing and she was sick to her stomach. She said she feels like throwing up but can’t. I gave her some peppermint tea and then with some trepidation a teaspoon of lobelia. This obviously did not poison her, so ten minutes later I gave her another dose. I thought perhaps two teaspoons would do the trick since she was only a child weighing around eighty pounds. After more time had passed and the desired effect was not realized, I gave her a third. It did the trick; she threw up soon afterward and said she felt much better. In this case, lobelia didn’t save a life, but it sure saved the day. This experience proved to me what the Eclectics claimed “that lobelia’s action on children is gentler and they are less liable to be unpleasantly affected with lobelia than adults.
I have put together a lot of Dr. Christopher’s formulas with lobelia for our own use, in the past year. Formulas I have made and use include, Lower Bowel, Mullein and Lobelia, Bone, Flesh and Cartilage, antispasmodic tincture, Calcium, Resp-Free, and Herbal Tooth powder. Experiences using some of these formulas follow.
My brother’s neck was swollen, especially right behind the ears. Thankfully he was game enough to let me put a mullein and lobelia fomentation around his neck as high as we could get it. The next morning it was better, so much so that we never repeated the treatment.
My siblings and I were having fun sledding, skiing and snowboarding in January. I was talking to one of my brothers and absent mindedly stepped backward, directly into the path of my little, big brother (younger than me, but bigger) on a snowboard. The snow board hit me hard on the heel; I was knocked over with the impact. No bones were broken, but it hurt. After we got home, I brewed up some BF&C tea and soaked my foot in it for awhile. I also made around 200 capsules and took them over the next few days. Eventually a bruise came to the surface, so I concluded that the bone was badly bruised rather than broken. I feel that if I wouldn’t have had the BF&C I would have had a lot more pain. If I felt discomfort, I took BF&C and the pain went away. I thought my foot healed remarkably fast.
When reading about lobelia I came across a use I hadn’t thought of before; external antispasmodic. Since the muscles in my back were tight and cramped from working at the computer I decided to try it and see if it works. I took some antispasmodic tincture I had made and rubbed it into my back. It was a little difficult to apply but I got it done. I really think it helped.
Just this morning, (May 12, 2006) my brother complained of a belly ache. Remembering that lobelia has also been used to calm an upset stomach, and he was coughing up a storm as well, I decided to try it. Though he didn’t appreciate the taste, he did admit that it took his belly ache away and helped his cough. I didn’t hear any difference, but he must have felt a difference. I only gave him one teaspoonful, as I knew he wouldn’t appreciate throwing up and I was aiming to settle his stomach.
A story showing that lobelia is even safe for babies. An Amish customer asked for lobelia. I was out of the dried lobelia and the only tincture I had in stock was an alcohol tincture. Someone had told her to give her baby lobelia to expel the mucus that was troubling her. I said I would give her some that I had made up with vinegar since there is no sense giving a baby alcohol when the herb works better in a vinegar tincture. I wasn’t really sure how much she should give her, being a baby and all, but needing the expectorant properties of the herb. I suggested 10 drops or so, in three consecutive doses or whatever she is comfortable with. Just today (April 27 2006) she stopped in to buy a eucalyptus plant and I questioned her as to whether it worked or not. She said she gave up to 15-20 drops as often as 6 consecutive times with no adverse effects. Rather than giving her more lobelia, she used her finger to gag her and make her throw up. The baby expelled a lot of mucus and is doing much better. The mother seemed happy with the results. She did not give her peppermint tea as she refuses to take teas.
I even used lobelia and antispasmodic tincture on our German shepherd with good success. One cold snowy day, I noticed he was acting a little strange, sitting quite still. I didn’t pay much attention to him as I was pretty busy. Towards evening the younger children came running in to the house saying “Shep is dying”. He was laid out on the snow, seemingly paralyzed and shaking uncontrollably. I ran for the lobelia and antispasmodic tincture after telling my siblings to get him off the snow and into the barn. I poured the rest of both bottles, not sure which I gave first, down his throat. After the first shot, he got up and tried to get away, but he was too weak. After the second dose he ran for his dog house with his tail between his legs. The next day, he seemed as fine as ever. We will never know for sure what was the matter with him. There is a possibility it was rabies, since our puppy died a short time later of rabies.
In all fairness I must also give my failures. These I believe were mostly due to the fact that the cases were too far advanced. The first unsuccessful case was our puppy. We knew she had been bitten by a possibly rabid raccoon. I looked up rabies in “Back to Eden” and came across lobelia and antispasmodic tincture as possible cures. The next few days we gave her sporadic doses of lobelia and antispasmodic tincture neither of which she appreciated. We grew tired of treating our difficult patient, my brother had to hold her down and pry her mouth open so I could give it to her and getting caught up in the business of life, pushed it out of our mind. A few weeks later, she began to show signs of rabies. Then, though she attempted to bite us, we gave her as much lobelia and antispasmodic tincture as we could. It was very difficult to get much in to her at this point and the disease too far advanced. Within forty-eight hours she was dead. The rabies test proved positive. Though this story has a sad ending, I do not feel it is the fault of lobelia but rather that the administrators were not faithful enough in giving large enough quantities to prevent the onset of this deadly “incurable” disease. The lesson is, give enough to do the job, rather than lobelia doesn’t work.
Two other unfortunate cases involved two of our goats. One morning my brother came in saying, You need to come out and do something for Hornless, one of our milking goats. The goat was nearly dead, having overdosed on oats the day before. I really wasn’t sure what to do, since Vernon, my brother, said it is difficult for goats to throw up. I gave it some echinacea to start with, and then some peppermint tea followed by some lobelia tea, since I couldn’t find the tincture. Soon after, the goat seemed to go into a coma after seeming to have difficulty breathing. A few hours later, she was declared dead by Marvin, a younger brother. Only a few days ago, it happened again, Hornless’s kid is dying, you better come quickly. I told my brother I’m tired of being called when it is too late. The kid was obviously dying, being too weak to move and was having trouble breathing. Vernon thought it had gotten into the neighbors sprayed field and was poisoned. I knew that lobelia has been used as an antidote to poison, so I again grabbed my lobelia tincture and a little cayenne. We gave it some of the cayenne, which seemed to perk it up a little bit, followed by lobelia. Almost immediately it shook its head and seemed to be trying to throw up, unsuccessfully. We’re not sure when it stopped breathing, it was hard to tell but it was within an hour. Even after these unfortunate cases, I don’t believe lobelia is a poison. I am beginning to wonder though if lobelia is an appropriate herb for goats. Next time I do believe I’ll try something else. If I would have been treating people, I probably would have been stuck in jail for three accounts of murder. I do not view it that way though as all three of these unfortunate cases were animals that were going to die anyway.
 Ellingwood, American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, Lobelia, p. 279