Central and Eastern Native American tribes smoke dried lobelia leaves to relieve asthma. Lobeline alkaloid removes mucous from the bronchial passages. This remedy was not used until the late eighteenth century. Lobeline is chemically similar to nicotine and is presently used in over the counter remedies to stop smoking. It is also known as “Indian tobacco.” The red lobelia or cardinal flower was ground and added to an arguing couple’s meal to promote harmony.
NOTE: Lobelia is toxic in large doses, producing vomiting and heart palpitations. It is toxic when ingested, not inhaled.