Two herbal plants common to North America have been used for generations for heat related illnesses. Both Lobella and Gelsemium have been shown to bring relief from the fever and headaches due to sunstroke. Descriptions of both plants and how to extract the medicinal properties of each is discussed.
Summertime can be full of sun in the sun. There is a lot of time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends creating memories that last a lifetime. The heat from the summer sun can be brutal at times and care must be taken to avoid serious heat related illness while at work or play. Over exposure to the sun’s heat can cause severe burning which can lead to skin cancers. Also very serious is getting to hot and not listening to the body’s natural defenses telling you to find a shade tree. Heat exhaustion or sunstroke can really cause health problems in everyone from the young to the elderly. It robs the body of moisture causing headaches, fever, exhaustion and even flu like symptoms. This summer is setting high temperature records all across the country. If you or yours have been suffering from the heats effects the following two herbal remedies from two plants that are common to the United States could provide relief and healing.
Enjoy the summertime but remember not to overdo!!
Lobelia inflata, L. (N.O.: Lobeliaceae)
Common Names: Indian Tobacco, Poke Weed, Asthma Weed, Gag root, Wild Tobacco
This plant belongs to the Bell flower family (Campanulaceae). It is very common, it grows wild in most sections of the United States and is often known as Indian tobacco because of the way it tastes. It does not contain nicotine and is not related to the tobacco plant. There are more than 200 species of this plant. All of the species have the same tubular, five-lobed corolla that is irregular with a split on the upper side, the upper lip has two erect lobes and the lower one has three spreading lobes. The Lobelia flowers from July to November and the flowers are small and numerous, pale blue in this species that is the one most common in America. The leaves are ovate, veiny and hairy and positioned alternatively on the stem. The root is fibrous and there is an erect angular very hairy stem that grows from 6 inches to 3 foot tall. The fruit of the plant is a two celled oval capsule that contains numerous small brown seeds. Some species of this plant mountains of Africa and Asia can grow up to 15 foot tall. There are some dwarf Lobelia (L. erina) that are cultivated as bedding plants.
Gather the leaves and stems of the Lobelia, which are the medicinal parts, from the last of July to the middle of October. The plant should be dried in a dry, shady place and preserved in packages or covered vessels…like a sealed jar. The plant contains various alkaloids, lobeline and others. The juice is milky and poisonous to livestock. While the whole plant can be used the stem and leaves contain the most medicinal properties that combat the heat, aches and fever that come with heat exhaustion. The root of the red flowering species was used by Native Americans to expel or destroy intestinal worms. Also was used for treating syphilis.