Lobelia is a genus of flowering plants comprising 415 species, with a subcosmopolitan distribution primarily in tropical to warm temperate regions of the world, a few species extending into cooler temperate regions. They are known generally as lobelias.
Native Americans used lobelia to treat respiratory and muscle disorders, and as a purgative.
The species used most commonly in modern herbalism is Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco). However, there are adverse effects that limit the use of lobelia.
Herbalist Samuel Thomson popularized medicinal use of lobelia in the United States in the early 19th century, as well as other medicinal plants like goldenseal.
Because of its similarity to nicotine, the internal use of lobelia may be dangerous to susceptible populations, including children, pregnant women and individuals with cardiac disease.