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Lobelia & Recovery from Cigarette Smoking (Nicotine Addiction)

I want to preface this post with a warning: This herb can be toxic. One of its common names is Puke Weed. There’s a reason for that. If you want to try this herb, call your Friendly, Neighborhood ND (that’s me, if you’re in Santa Cruz County). We know what we’re doing when it comes to dosing toxic herbs in a way that heals, and won’t make you puke.

That said, there are “Stop Smoking” tincture blends available at most stores that have a quality natural health section. Here in SC, Staff of Life, New Leaf, & Whole Foods come to mind. Take them as directed on the bottle, unless your ND says otherwise. In my clinic, I have it in a glycerite tincture, because many people who are in recovery from an Alcohol Use Disorder are also smokers who usually want to stop at some point. The glycerite form is less toxic than the alcohol based tincture of Lobelia, and is also effective. Besides that, it tastes better, lol. I wrote an Instagram post on glycerites.

The reason Lobelia is effective in aiding recovery from a nicotine addiction is its main active phytochemical (phyto=plant), lobeline. Lobeline acts on nicotine receptors in the body. Receptors are like a lock. Each one has a different shape. Chemicals that have that shape are like the key that opens or closes the lock. There can be more than one chemical that will act on each receptor, because of similarity in shape. --And yes, we have actual receptors in our body for the chemical nicotine, or chemicals that are similar to it, like lobeline. Lobeline, however, does not exert such a strong response. You will not become addicted to Lobelia either, because you will throw up before enough of it can be ingested to ever begin reaching any kind of tolerance. It’s a very effective deterrent, and another reason why it actually helps people recover. Oh nature, you are so dang smart. Lobelia not only helps reduce nicotine cravings, it has a particular affinity for lung tissue, just like nicotine. One of the withdrawal effects of nicotine is coughing as the body begins to work on detoxifying the lungs. Lobeline opens up the bronchial airway, and relieves this symptom. 

This article gives a complete picture of nicotine withdrawal: I would like to offer another caution here- See a doctor, if you are experiencing:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Shortness of breath

  • Feeling like you're not getting enough air

  • Decreased ability to exercise

  • A cough that won't go away

  • Coughing up blood or mucus

  • Pain or discomfort when breathing in or out

These are signs of potential lung disease. The signs and symptoms can differ by the type, but the above are the most common. In my previous blog post there is information on how to find smoking cessation programs. Many of these are free. If you do want to quit smoking, it will not be easy, but it is definitely possible. Find friends, or family, who will be kind and encourage your effort. Having such a support group statistically increases a person’s ability to recover. Just know, your friendly, neighborhood ND is hoping the best. I would certainly welcome the chance to be a part of making your recovery successful!

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