Dear Humorous Herbalist,
You wrote an article a while back regarding the herb lobelia to help a person quit smoking. My experience with this herbal tonic is that it's also good for seizures. I know there are many different types of seizures, and sometimes lobelia may reduce the frequency of the attacks, but they may not completely be eliminated.
A friend of mine gave lobelia to his daughter one time during a seizure and she has never had another one. Our dog started having seizures about one and a half years ago.
We gave him 1/2 dropper of the extract during a seizure, and he has never had another incident. Do you know how this works, and how people could learn about this?
- Pamela (via e-mail)
Lobelia has been used for centuries to treat the symptoms associated with seizures. Although the herb had been used by the Native Americans, lobelia gained fame in the 8th century when herbalist and physician Samuel Thomson recommended it to his patients.
Dr. Thomson wrote of lobelia, "There is no vegetable which the earth produces more harmless in its effect on the human system, and none more powerful in removing disease and promoting health than lobelia."
Dr. John R. Christopher, one of the 20th century's most respected herbalists, included lobelia in many of his famous formulas.
Dr. Christopher said that "Lobelia is a general corrector of the whole system, as it is easily diffused and able to influence the entire body. Lobelia is an efficient relaxant and is believed to be the best counter-irritant known to mankind. Its action is felt immediately on the serous, mucous, muscular and nervous systems, especially the sympathetic nervous system."
Lobelia works on many levels. However, its powerful antispasmodic properties are partly responsible for its anti-seizure effects. Unfortunately, lobelia's often emetic effects (causing vomiting), have erroneously given the herb labels such as "toxic" and "dangerous." This is patently untrue. Those who believe that lobelia is toxic either don't know how to use the herb or are basing their opinion on ignorant written and verbal information.
There have been case studies where lobelia has been given in the midst of a seizure and the person or animal has begun to vomit. In these cases, the emetic effect was credited for clearing the body of an obstruction and releasing the energy brought on by the seizure. Understand that not everyone who has used lobelia for seizures experiences vomiting. Dr. Christopher referred to lobelia as the "thinking herb" - i.e., the herb has the ability to target the affected area of the body and correct whatever is out of balance at that precise moment. If the body signals that vomiting is part of that process, lobelia will cause it to occur.
The best way to use lobelia is in liquid extract form. Make sure the extract is made with both alcohol and vinegar since these elements draw specific healing qualities from the herb. The typical dose when using lobelia as an antispasmodic is 10 to 15 drops of the extract placed directly under the tongue.
There is a well-known formula called "Antispasmodic Tincture," created by renowned herbalist and educator Jethro Kloss. It includes lobelia, skunk cabbage, skullcap, black cohosh, myrrh and cayenne. As a preventative tonic, Antispasmodic Tincture is taken two to three times per day in 15 to 30 drop doses. Lobelia and Antispasmodic Tincture are not recommended for people who have weak constitutions, low vitality or low blood pressure.
The best place I have found to purchase excellent quality lobelia or Antispasmodic Tincture is HerbPharm. Their toll-free phone number is 1-800-348-4372.
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The information in this column is not meant to take the place of your physician, nor is it intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe. Pregnant or nursing women should consult their doctor before using herbal therapy.