Lobelia - a topical spasmolytic

When I was a student in the herbal training clinic in London in 1985, I was presented with my first, and worst ever, case of bronchitis and emphysema. The man was short of breath without any exertion and I could hear him wheezing and gasping in the waiting room while I was in the consulting room! He was desperately trying to get all the air he could, using all the accessory muscles of respiration, and his shoulders were up around his ears. His wife accompanied him and did all the talking because he couldn't get enough air to talk.

As the consultation unfolded, I realized that he was very unhappy with his wife's comments and the way she told his story and that I needed to get him to talk and get her out of the way. Being a neophyte herbalist and not at all sure of myself I suggested that we try a little massage to relax him and see if he could breathe and talk easier. He agreed so I went to the dispensary to get some oil.

And inspiration struck! I took a small bowl and poured in some almond oil. To this I added equal parts of the tinctures of Lobelia inflata and Viburnum opulus. I warmed it in a water bath and began to massage it into the old man's shoulders, chest and back. Within about 10 minutes his muscles were visibly softening and his shoulders were dropping. Within 15 minutes he was talking fairly easily and I was able to continue to take his case history.

It turned out that I couldn't cure his chronic lung condition, but his wife gave him regular massages with the lobelia liniment which gave him marked symptomatic relief.

I am happy to share the recipe, revised and refined over the years, with the readers of Medical Herbalism and I know you will find it remarkably effective.

Let-go linement

Useful for skeletal and smooth muscle cramping, stiffness, soreness and tension, menstrual cramps, athletic over-use, tension headaches, abdominal cramps, spasmodic coughing, or urinary spasms.

* 25 mL each of the infused oils of Pokeroot and Juniper
* 25 mL each of the tinctures of Lobelia and Cramp bark
* 1 mL each of the essential oils of Rosemary, Black pepper, Wintergreen, and Marjoram

Shake well together and apply over affected area as needed.

Lobelia References

Anonymous. De Re Medicine: Editio Secunda. Indianapolis, Indiana: Eli Lilly and Company, 1941

---------. Physicians Desk Reference for Non-Prescription Drugs. Oradell, New Jersey: Medical Economics, 1990

Atkins, Dudley Tyng. Reports of Cases Argued and Determined by the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Vol VI. Containing the cases from October term, 1809, in Middlesex, to September Term, 1810 in Berkshire, Inclusive: with notes and references to the Enclish and American Cases by Bnnjamin Rand, Esq.. Boston: Little, Crown, and Company, 1864 [reprint]

Bigelow, Jacob. American Medical Botany. 3 vols. Boston: Cummings and Hilliard, 1817-1820

Boericke, William. Pocket Manual of Homeopathic Materia Madica. Ninth Edition. New Delhi: Jain Publishers, 1984. Reprinted from the 1927 original)

Boyle, Wade. East Palestine, Ohio: Buckeye Naturopathic Press, 1991

Budavari S., Oneil M.J., Smith A., Heckelman P.E. (editors). The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals Eleventh Edition. Rahway, New Jersey: Merck and Co, Inc., 1989

Casarett J., and Doull J. (editors). Toxicology, The Basic Science of Poisons. New York: Macmillan, 1975

Coffin, A.I. Botanic Guide to Health and the Natural Pathology of Disease (49(th) edition). London: Haynes, Coffin, and Co., 1866

Colby, Benjamin. A Guide to Health. Milford, New Hampshire: John Burns, 1844

Cook, William. The Physio-Medical Dispensatory: A Treatise on therapeutics, Materia Medica, and Pharmacy in Accordance With the Principles of Physiological Medication. Cincinnati: Wm Cook, 1869

DerMarderosian A., and Liberti L. Natural Product Medicine: A Scientific Guide to Foods, Drugs, Cosmetics. Philadelphia: George f. Stickley Co, 1988

DeSmet P.A.G.M. "Drugs used in non-orthodox medicine." In: Dukes M.N.G. Myler's Side Effects of Drugs (12th Edition). London: Elsevier, 1992

DiPalma J.R., and DiGregori G.J. Basic Pharmacology in Medicine. Third Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990

Ellingwood, Finley. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Pharmacognosy. Portland, Oregon: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1983 [Reprinted from the 1919 original].

Felter, Harvey, and Lloyd, John Uri. King's American Dispensatory. Portland, Oregon: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1986 [Reprinted from the 1898 original].

Felter, Harvey. The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology, and Therapeutics. Portland, Oregon: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1985 [Reprinted from the 1922 original].

Frohne D. and Pfänder H.J. Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants: Handbook for Pharmacists, Doctors, Toxicologists, and Biologists. Kiel, Germany: Wolfe, 1989

Gisvold, O., and Doerge, R.F. Textbook of Organic Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Philadelphia: Lippencott, 1971

Griggs, Barbara. Green Pharmacy: The History and Evolution of Western Herbal Medicine. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 1981

Hale, Edwin M. Special Symptomology of the New Remedies. New Delhi: Jain Publishers, 1995(a) [Reprinted from the 1875 original]

Hale, Edwin M. Special Therapeutics of the New Remedies: Illustrative Clinical Cases. New Delhi: Jain Publishers, 1995(b) [Reprinted from the 1875 original]

Harbourne J.B. and Baxter H. Dictionary of Plant Toxins. Chichester, England: John Wiley and Sons, 1996

Hering, Constantine. The Guiding Symptoms of Our Materia Medica Volume 7. New Delhi: Jain, 1995. Reprinted from the 1891 original.

Hsu, Hong-Yen. Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide. New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing, 1986

Jones, Eli [Editor: Boyle, Wade] Reading the Eye, Pulse, and Tongue for the Indicated Remedy. East Palestine, Ohio: Buckeye Naturopathic Press, 1989

Keeler R.F. and Tu A.T. (Editors). Toxicology of Plant and Fungal Compounds: Handbook of Natural Toxins (Volume 6). New York: Marcel Dekker.

Lamps K.F. and McCann M.A. AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants. Chicago, Illinois: AMA, 1985

Lewis, Walter H., and Elvin-Lewis, Memory P.F. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man's Health. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1977

Lopez R, et al. Taxonomical, clinical and pathological findings in moradilla (Lobelia-like) poisoning in sheep. Vet Hum Toxicol. 1994 Jun; 36(3): 195-198.

McGuggin M., Hobbs C., Upton R., Goldberg A. Botanical Safety Handbook Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 1997

McLaren G. Sudden death in asthma. Br Med J 1968 Nov 16;4(628):456

Millspaugh, Charles F. American Medicinal Plants. New York: Dover Publications, 1974 [Reprinted from the 1892 original American Plants.]

Morrison, Roger. Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms. Albany, California: Hahnemann Clinic Publishing, 1993

Osol A., and Farrar G.E.. The Dispensatory of the United States of America. The 24th Edition. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippencott Company, 1947.

Rafinesque, C.S. Medical Flora; or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of America. Philadelphia: Atkinson and Alexander, 1828

Reynolds J.E.F. Martingale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1993

Stille, Alfred. Therapeutics and Materia Medica: A Systematic treatise on the Action and Uses of Medicinal Agents Including Their Description and History. Volume II. Philadelphia: Henry Lea, 1874

Sipes G., McQueen C.A., and Gandolf A.J. Comprehensive Toxicology. New York: Elsevier, 1997

Sittig, M. Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens. Third Edition (Volume 2). Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Publications, 1991.

Thacher, James. The American New Dispensatory. Boston: T.B. Wait and Company, 1810

Thacher, James. The American New Dispensatory, Third Edition. Boston: T.B. Wait and Company, 1817

Thomson, Samuel. New Guide to Health, or Botanic Family Physician, Containing a Complete System of Practice Upon a Plan Entirely New. Third edition. Boston: 1831

Thomson, Samuel. A Narrative of the Life and Medical Discoveries of Samuel Thomson. Boston: 1825

Turner N.J., and Szczawinski A.F. Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 1991.

Tyler, V.E. The Honest Herbal: A sensible Guide to The Use of Herbs and Related Remedies. Third Edition. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press (Haworth), 1993

Tyler, V.E. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press (Haworth), 1994

Wade, A. Editor: Martingale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 27th Ed. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1977

Wood, George B. A Treatise on Therapeutics and Pharmacology of Materia Medica, Volume II. Philadelphia: Lippencott, 1860

Wood, George B., and Bache, F. Dispensatory of the United States of America. Philadelphia; Elliot, 1849

Medical Herbalism.


By Chanchal Cabrera

Share this with your friends