Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Magical & Ritual Use of Herbs - Lobelia



A sacrament used in smoking rituals.

·   Family: Lobeliaceae (or Campanulaceae family).

·   Botanical Name: Lobelia inflata.

·   Synonyms: Indian tobacco, gagroot, vomit root, and bladderpod

·   Geographical Location: All parts of the United States.

·   Habitat: Fields, woods, and meadows.

·        Botanical Description: Lobelia is an annual, indigenous to North America, found in pastures and cultivated fields. The erect, angular stem grows from 6 inches to 3 feet tall and is hairy with a milky sap. The leaves are thin and light green in an ovoid shape, hairy with blunt saw like teeth on the edge. Numerous small blue flowers growing in spine like pods are arranged in succession at the top of the stem. The fruit is a two celled oval capsule containing numerous small brown seeds.


In North America, lobelia found its way into medicine in 1785. Cutler, in his account of herbs, states that when the leaves were chewed, they "produced giddiness and pain of the head, with trembling agitation." The Penobscot of eastern North America used it as a tobacco in the early nineteenth century. A similar  species was smoked by the Mapuche of Chile for the narcotic effect. They called the weed tuba or tobaca del diablo.


Active alkaloidsare lobeline, lobelanidine, and norlobelanidine.

Although these constituents are not known to have hallucinogenic effects, d-lobeline is a carotid body stimulant.


When very small quantities are added to a cigarette and smoked, the effect is a mild marijuana-like euphoria. It acts simultaneously as a stimulant and relaxant. Lesser amounts tend to act as a stimulant, larger amounts as a depressant. It alters the mental state.


Only a pinch should be added to steeping tea, preferably peppermint and chamomile. By itself, it is very harsh.


The social practice of setting a pipe for guests is fairly common, even today. The purpose is a sort of security where everyone sits and centers as a group. The sacrament has varied from generation to generation. Within the Native American tradition, the pipe bowl is always nearest the center of the circle, being passed from right to left. The host always loads the first bowl.

Note of Caution: Even normal amounts of lobelia may cause nausea, vomiting, and circulatory disturbances.

Lobelia is considered to be one of the best herbal expectorants as well as a powerful emetic.

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