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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Lobelia Usage

Written by FoundHealth.

What is Lobelia Used for Today?

The major active ingredient of lobelia is a substance called lobeline. It is widely stated that lobeline is chemically similar to nicotine, and on this basis it has been marketed as a stop-smoking treatment . However, this belief appears to be a type of urban legend; lobeline is not in fact chemically similar to nicotine. 1 Interestingly, chemists investigating the lobeline–nicotine myth found that lobeline may diminish certain effects of nicotine in the body, specifically nicotine-induced release of the substance dopamine. Since dopamine is believed to play a significant role in drug addiction, these findings can be taken as hinting that lobeline might be useful for treating drug addiction . Potential benefits have been found for addiction to amphetamines. 2 3 Dopamine also plays a role in cigarette addiction. For this reason, despite lobeline’s lack of similarity to nicotine, it is at least possible that lobelia could be helpful for people who wish to stop smokeing. Unfortunately, despite its widespread marketing for this purpose, there has never been any meaningful evidence that it works. 4 Other proposed uses of lobelia also lack supporting evidence. For example, while studies in horses have found that injected lobeline causes the animals to breath more deeply, 5 it is a long way from a finding like this to the widespread claims that lobelia is helpful for asthma . Similarly, animal studies hint that lobeline might enhance memory 6 and reduce pain, 7 and, in addition, that beta-amyrin palmitate, another constituent of lobelia, might have antidepressant and sedative properties. 8 9 However, there have not yet been any human studies on these potential benefits of the herb.


  1. Dwoskin LP, Crooks PA. A novel mechanism of action and potential use for lobeline as a treatment for psychostimulant abuse. Biochem Pharmacol. 63(2):89-98.
  2. Dwoskin LP, Crooks PA. A novel mechanism of action and potential use for lobeline as a treatment for psychostimulant abuse. Biochem Pharmacol. 63(2):89-98.
  3. Harrod SB, Dwoskin LP, Crooks PA, Klebaur JE, Bardo MT. Lobeline attenuates d-methamphetamine self-administration in rats. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 298(1):172-9.
  4. Davison GC, Rosen RC. Lobeline and reduction of cigarette smoking. Psychol Rep. 31(2):443-56.
  5. Marlin DJ, Roberts CA, Schroter RC, Lekeux P. Respiratory responses of mature horses to intravenous lobeline bolus. Equine Vet J. 32(3):200-7.
  6. Decker MW, Majchrzak MJ, Arnerić SP. Effects of lobeline, a nicotinic receptor agonist, on learning and memory. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 45(3):571-6.
  7. Hamann SR, Martin WR. Hyperalgesic and analgesic actions of morphine, U50-488, naltrexone, and (-)-lobeline in the rat brainstem. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 47(1):197-201.
  8. Subarnas A, Tadano T, Oshima Y, Kisara K, Ohizumi Y. Pharmacological properties of beta-amyrin palmitate, a novel centrally acting compound, isolated from Lobelia inflata leaves. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1993;45:545–50.
  9. Subarnas A, Tadano T, Nakahata N, et al. A possible mechanism of antidepressant activity of beta-amyrin palmitate isolated from Lobelia inflata leaves in the forced swimming test. Life Sci. 1993;52:289–96.


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