Herbs & Plants

Lobelia inflata

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Botanical Name : Lobelia inflata
Family: Campanulaceae
Subfamily: Lobelioideae
Genus:     Lobelia
Species: L. inflata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Asterales

Synonyms: Rapuntium inflatum. Indian-Tobacco. Pukeweed. Asthma Weed. Gagroot. Vomitwort. Bladderpod. Eyebright.

Common Names : Indian tobacco, Puke weed

Habitat:Lobelia inflata  occurs on dry places in the northern United States, Canada and Kamchatka. Grown in English gardens

Lobelia inflata is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant growing to 15–100 centimetres (5.9–39.4 in) tall, with stems covered in tiny hairs. Its leaves are usually about 8 centimetres (3.1 in) long, and are ovate and toothed. It has violet flowers that are tinted yellow on the inside, and usually appear in mid-summer and continue to bloom into fall. The odour is irritating, the taste, after chewing, very like that of tobacco, burning and acrid, causing a flow of saliva. The powder has a greenish colour, but that of the seeds is brown, and stains paper with grease.


Lobelia inflata has a long use as an entheogenic and emetic substance. The plant was widely used by the Penobscots and was widely used in the New England even before the time of Samuel Thomson, who was credited as discovering it. Indian Tobacco, also known as “pukeweed”, is still used today. It can be used fresh, or dry.
Succeeds in full sun or light shade. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a slightly acid soil. Plants are usually annual, but are sometimes biennial. This species is occasionally cultivated commercially as a medicinal plant.

Propagation : Propagation is usually accomplished by cuttings or seed. Seeds are sown in containers in mid spring or mid fall. The seeds take about 2 weeks to germinate.

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used: The dried flowering herb, and seeds.

Constituents: The activity of Lobelia inflata is dependent upon a liquid alkaloid first isolated by Proctor in 1838 and named Lobeline. Pereira found a peculiar acid which he named Lobelic acid. Also, gum, resin, chlorophyl, fixed oil, lignin, salts of lime and potassium, with ferric oxide. Lobelacrine, formerly considered to be the acrid principle, is probably lobelate of lobeline. The seeds contain a much higher percentage of lobeline than the rest of the plant.


Lobelia was a traditional Native American remedy and its use was later championed by the American herbalist Samuel Thomson (1769-1843), who made the herb the mainstay of his therapeutic system.  He mainly used it to induce vomiting.  It was promoted by Jethro Kloss and later by Dr. John Christopher.   A powerful antispasmodic and respiratory stimulant, lobelia is valuable for asthma, especially bronchial asthma, and chronic bronchitis.  It relaxes the muscles of the smaller bronchial tubes, thus opening the airways, stimulating breathing, and promoting the coughing up of phlegm.  In the Western tradition, lobelia has always been combined with cayenne, its hot stimulant action helping to push blood into areas that lobelia has relaxed.  Lobelia is often most effective when the infusion or diluted tincture is applied externally.  It relaxes muscles, particularly smooth muscle, which makes it useful for sprains, and back problems where muscle tension is a key factor.  Combined with cayenne, lobelia has been used as a chest and sinus rub.  Due to its chemical similarity to nicotine, lobelia is employed by herbalists to help patients give up smoking.  Lobeline sulphate has been part of commercial over-the-counter antismoking lozenges.  It seems to replace physical addiction to nicotine without its addictive effects.    The Native Americans smoked it like tobacco for respiratory problems and it gained the name Indian tobacco.  Both drinking the tea and smoking lobelia, usually with other herbs to modify its intense reaction, have been employed to treat asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough. Plasters and liniments for sprains, muscle spasms, and insect bites and poultices for breast cancer sometimes contain lobelia.

Expectorant, diaphoretic, anti-asthmatic. It should not be employed as an emetic. (Herbalists, who use lobelia far more than the ordinary practitioners, nearly always prescribe it in doses large enough to prove emetic, and regard it as of greater value thus used. – EDITOR.) Some authorities attach great value to it as an expectorant in bronchitis, others as a valuable counterirritant when combined with other ingredients in ointment form. It is sometimes given in convulsive and inflammatory disorders such as epilepsy, tetanus, diphtheria and tonsilitis. There is also difference of opinion with regard to its narcotic properties. Where relaxation of the system is required, as, for instance, to subdue spasm, Lobelia is invaluable. Relaxation can be counteracted by the stimulating and tonic infusion of capsicum. It may be used as an enema.

Externally, an infusion has been found useful in ophthalmia, and the tincture can be used as a local application for sprains, bruises, or skin diseases, alone, or in powder combined with an equal part of slippery elm bark and weak lye-water in a poultice. The oil of Lobelia is valuable in tetanus. One drop of oil triturated with one scruple of sugar, and divided into from 6 to 12 doses, is useful as an expectorant, nauseant, sedative, and diaphoretic, when given every one or two hours.

Other Uses:
It is also said that plant material is burned as a natural bug repellent to keep away insects such as mosquitoes. The plant has been burnt in order to smoke out gnats.

It contains lobeline.

Known Hazards :  Some reports say that the plant is poisonous, whilst another says that toxicity has not been established. It contains the alkaloid lobeline which has a similar effect upon the nervous system as nicotine. See also the notes below on medicinal uses. Do not use during pregnancy and lactation. Excessive use discouraged. Avoid if high blood pressure, tendency to fits and heart disease.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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Herbs & Plants

Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum Frutescens)

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Botanical Name: Capsicum Frutescens
Family:    Solanaceae
Genus:    Capsicum
Species:C. annuum
Order:    Solanales
Other Names: Capsicum, Hot pepper. Cayenne chili pepper, African pepper, Tabasco pepper, Red pepper
Common name:Cayenne pepper, red pepper, Chili pepper, lombok riewit, piment, pimento, lombok besar, cabe besar, lada besar.
Flowers: April – September
Parts Used: Pods
Habitat: Temperate climates and can be grown indoors.

Description:Cayenne pepper is a small shrub with alternate and oval to lanceolate leaves; this plant is native to tropical America. The flowers are white and the fruit is an avoid to ellipsoid berry. This small fruit is red when mature and has a hot pungent taste; the smaller they are, the hotter. The dried ripened fruit pod is used to prepare the pepper. The seeds of Cayenne pepper are always hotter than the pod.

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It is also known as “African Cayenne” or “African Bird Pepper”.Cayenne pepper seeds are dispersed by birds.
Its glabrous stem is woody at the bottom and branched near the top. The leaves are ovate to lanceolate, entire, and petioled. The drooping, white to yellow flowers grow alone or in pairs or threes. The fruit, or pepper, is a many seeded pod with a leathery outside. As it ripens it turns from various shades of dark green to black to red.

History: The first North American to advocate Cayenne pepper in healing was Samuel Thomson, creator of Thomsonian herbal medicine, which enjoyed considerable popularity before the Civil War. Thomson believed most disease was caused by cold and cured by heat, so he prescribed “warming” herbs extensively, and Cayenne was chief among them.
After the civil war, America’s Eclectic physicians recommended it externally for arthritis and muscle soreness and internally as a digestive stimulant and treatment for colds, cough, fever, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and toothache. The Eclectics also advised adding Cayenne to socks to treat cold feet, a use echoed in some herbal preparations today.
Contemporary herbalists prescribe capsules of Cayenne powder for colds, gastrointestinal and bowel problems, and as a digestive aid. Externally, they recommend Cayenne plasters for arthritis and muscle soreness.

Constituents: Capsaicin, Carotenoids, Flavonoids, Vitamins A and C.

Health Benefits:
It improves circulation by its stimulating properties
It reduces inflammatory conditions of blood vessels
It purifies the blood by its cleansing and purging effect – it is an excellent expeller of It It It poisons and toxins
It promotes healing and prevents infection due to its anti-microbial properties
It helps to normalize blood pressure
It lowers cholesterol and reduces risk of heart disease
It helps to break down cholesterol deposits in the body
It prevents blood clots
It helps to bring down blood sugar levels
It relieves pain
It enhances body’s metabolism

Medicinal Properties  and uses:
Properties: Appetizer, Digestive, Irritant, Sialagogue, Stimulant, Tonic.

Cayenne is the preferred species of Capsicum for medicinal use. Those in climates that eat more hot peppers have les chronic obstructive lung disease than those on blander diets. Externally, cayenne makes an excellent liniment for poor circulation, unbroken chilblains, sprains and painful joints. Internally, small doses of cayenne stimulate the appetite and act as an internal cleanser. Cayenne brings blood and body heat to the surface, stimulating sweating and cooling the body. It regulates the blood flow, equalizing and strengthening the heart, arteries, capillaries and nerves. It is a good tonic and is specific for the circulatory and digestive system. It may be used in flatulent dyspepsia and colic. It is used for treating debility and for warding off colds. Eating hot peppers temporarily boosts the body’s metabolic rate by about 25%. Cayenne acts as an energy stimulant, slightly encouraging the adrenals to produce cortisone.

The dried fruit is a powerful local stimulant with no narcotic effect, it is most useful in atony of the intestines and stomach. It has proved efficacious in dilating blood vessels and thus relieving chronic congestion of people addicted to drink. It is sometimes used as a tonic and is said to be unequalled in warding off disease (probably due to the high vitamin C content). Used externally, it is a strong rubefacient stimulating the circulation, aiding the removal of waste products and increasing the flow of nutrients to the tissues. It is applied as a cataplasm or linament. It has also been powdered and placed inside socks as a traditional remedy for those prone to cold feet. These pungent fruited peppers are important in the tropics as gastrointestinal detoxicants and food preservatives.

Capsicin has been found to reduce a chemical that carries pain messages from nerve endings to the skin to the central nervous system. Clinical trials showed that 75% of the people who applied a capsicin cream on their shingles disease experienced substantial pain relief with only an occasional burning sensation. It is being investigated for use on other painful skin problems, such as diabetic nerve damage, psoriasis, and post surgical pain, and has been developed into Zostrix, an over-the-counter cream. A small mount of cayenne stabilizes blood pressure and reduces excessive bleeding anywhere in the country. The leaves have been used to treat toothache.
Digestive Aid: Cayenne pepper assists digestion by stimulating the flow of both saliva and stomach secretions. Saliva contains enzymes that begin the breakdown of carbohydrate, while stomach secretions (gastric juices) contain acids and other substances that further digest food.
Diarrhea: Like many culinary spices, Cayenne pepper has antibacterial properties, possibly explaining traditional claims that it helps relieve infectious diarrhea.
Chronic Pain: For centuries, herbalists have recommended rubbing cayenne pepper into the skin to treat muscle and joint pains. Several capsaicin counterirritants are available over-the-counter, such as Heet, Stimurub, and Omega Oil.
Recently, however, Cayenne has been shown to possess real pain-relieving properties for certain kinds of chronic pain. For reasons still not completely understood, capsaicin interferes with the action of “substance P,” the chemical in the peripheral nerves that sends pain messages to the brain. Several recent studies all showed capsaicin so effective at relieving a particular type of chronic pain, that two over-the-counter capsaicin creams, Zostrix and Axsain, are available.
Blood Pressure: Cayenne pepper helps regulate blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, it lowers it, and if you have low blood pressure, it raises it.
Other Uses: Shingles, diabetic foot pain, cluster headaches, and may help cut cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

The seeds of Chili pepper contain capsaicin (a chemical compound); believed to have antibiotic properties.
It lowers cholesterol and works against arthritis and rheumatism.
Capsaicin is present in large quantities in the seeds and the fruits.
The seeds are dried, ground and used as a pepper; see Surinam kitchen.
Cayenne pepper also has a high vitamin C content.
Capsaicin relieves arthritic symptoms and improves joint flexibility.
There are numerous studies going on for the medicinal applications of
Cayenne pepper since there are a lot of therapeutic actions associated with it such as: aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, expectorant, neural stimulant, rubefacient, synergist vasomotor stimulant, topical vasodilator, etc.

Preparation And Dosages:
In food, season to taste, but be cautious. A little too much can set the mouth on fire.
For an infusion to aid digestion and possibly help reduce the risk of heart disease, use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per cup of boiling water. Drink it after meals.
For a tincture: (1:5 in 90% alcohol). Take 10 to 30 drops, 2 to 5 times per day in half-cup of water.
For external application to help treat pain, mix 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per cup of warm vegetable oil and rub it into the affected area.
Cayenne should not be given to children under age 2. People over 65 often suffer a loss of taste-bud and skin-nerve sensitivity and may require more than younger adults.
Skin Care

Cluster Headaches
Diabetes Type II
Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.