Earlier this summer I discovered this plant beginning to bloom. After some searching I learned that it is usually called “Indian tobacco” and its latin name is Lobelia inflata. I also learned it is a medicinal plant. I repeatedly saw this lovely plant with its tiny delicate flowers on plant identification walks with friends. It certainly seemed to be calling me.
Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians includes a chapter on lobelia (Lobelia inflata). Under “current uses” I read the following statement: “Lobelia tincture is used in small frequent doses to relieve muscle cramps, spasms, and body aches. Tincture or liniment may be applied directly on the skin to relieve these same symptoms.” I was intrigued and wondered if it would be appropriate for me to prepare a lobelia tincture or the liniment for myself.
I opened a coning with my personal MAP team. After a quick Q&A with the team, I had the go-ahead to prepare both the tincture and the liniment. I began the harvest. Initially I had difficulty finding Indian tobacco plants which were suitable. So many of them were past their prime — with yellowed leaves and inflated seed pods.
Finally, I found a good number of plants in an area which was overdue for mowing (good thing I haven’t mowed for a month or so). The harvest, including the plant photographed here, turned out to be just the right quantity to make the tincture and the liniment.