Lobelia Inflata. Wild Tobacco. Indian Tobacco.
Aufgeblasene Lobelie. Germ. (Willd.)
Lobelia inflata, L.
Hort. Ups. 276.
Act. Ups. 1741. p. 23. t. 1.
Gron. Virg. 134.
Mill. Dict. n. 5.
Hort. Cliff. 500.
Roy. Lugdb. 528.
Houttuyn Lin. Pfl. Syst. 10 p. 69.
Willd. Sp. Pl. 1. p. 946.
Mich. Fl. Boreali-Am. vol. 2. p. 152.
Muhl. Cat. p. 23.
Big. Florul. Bost. p. 55.
Thatch. Disp. 2d ed. p. 258.
Bart. Prodr. Fl. Ph. p. 30.
Shoepf. Mat. Med. 128.
Barton's Collections, part 1. p. 37, 59.
Pers. Syn. Pi. vol. 2. 213.
Elliot. Sketch. Georg. &c. p. 266.
Ait. Hort. Kew. ed. 2. vol. 1. p; 359.
Coxe. Disp. ed. 3d. p. 401.
Gen. Plant. 1363.
Cal. 5-fidus. Cor. 1-petala, irregularis, saepius fissa. Caps, infera, 2-3-loCularis.
Nat. Fam. Juss. Lobeliacea. (Ann. du Mus.)
Gen. Ch. Cal. Perianth of one leaf, surrounding the germen, in five deep, nearly equal, withering segments; the two superior ones most directed upwards. Cor. of one petal, irregular, slightly ringent; tube cylindrical, longer than the calix, divided lengthwise at the upper side; limb in five deep lanceolate segments, of which the two uppermost are smallest, most reflexed, and most deeply separated, constituting the upper lip; the three lowermost more spreading, and generally largest. Stam. Filaments five, awl-shaped, the length of the tube of the corolla, united upwards; anthers united into an oblong, somewhat oblique and curved, cylinder, separating into five parts at the base. Pist. Germen more than half inferior, pointed; style cylindrical, the length of the stamens; stigma obtuse, hispid. Peric. Capsule ovate, or roundish, of two or three cells, and two or three valves, bursting at the top, encompassed by the calix; the partitions contrary to the valves. Seeds numerous, minute, smooth. Receptacle conical.
Ess. Ch. Calix in five segments, crowningthe germen. Corolla of one petal, irregular. Anthers cohering, incurved. Capsule half inferior, of two or three cells. Ency.
Lobelia inflata caule erecto, foliis ovatis subserratis pedunclo longioribus capsulis inflatis.
Willd. Sp. Pl.
Lobelia inflata, erecta, ramosa, hirsutissima; foliis ovatis serratis, racemis foliosis, capsulis inflatis.
Pursh. Fl. Am.
Pharm. Lobelia inflate Herba, folia, capsul*, Semina,
Qual: Lactescens, acris, nauseosa.
Vis: Emetiea drastica.
Planta biennis, pedalis et ultra. Radix quasi fibrosa; albida, acris et gustu nauseosa. Herba lactescens, acris. Caulis semper solitarius, erectus ramosus, foliosus, obsolete angulatus, pubescens et interdum hirsutus. Pubescentia versus apicem ramorum, sub-nulla. Folia sparsa, seu alterna, ovaha, sessilia, subamplexicaulia, denticulato-serrata. Racemi terminales multiflori. Flores brevius pedicellati. Corolla coerulea, interne sub-violacea. Calicis foliola subulata, longitudine corollsc. Semina numerosissima minuta, in capsuhs vesiculato-inflatis contenta. Habitat in arvis presertim requietis; et ad vias, solo lutoso; florens Augusto et ad finem Octobris.
Bart. Fl. Ph. MS.
Father Plumier dedicated a genus of plants to Mathias de Lobel, or de L'Obel, author of a history of plants in 1576. The plant to which he originally applied the name of Lobelia, is now the Scsevola of Linnaeus. When this botanist was convinced by Jacquin. that under the name of Lobelia, a vast number of plants generically distinct from the original plant, were confounded with it, and that these plants were better known than the true Lobelia, by that name; he judged it proper to correct the error by retaining this name for them, and giving a new one to the genus of Plumier. This is the origin of the term Lobelia for the genus as it now stands.
The Lobelia inflata is a biennial inelegant plant, about one foot, and from that to two feet high. The root is fibrous, yellowish-white, of an acrid taste, resembling that of tobacco. Stem upright, always solitary, angular, leafy, very pubescent, sometimes hirsute, and very much branched about mid way. Branches axillary, shorter than the stem, which rises for six or ten inches above the top of the highest branches, as represented by fig. 2. The leaves are irregularly scattered and alternate, sometimes crowded, oval, generally sessile, with the margins unequally indented with tooth-like serratures. The flowers are numerous, situated on terminal, leafy racemes, and supported on short axillary peduncles. The corolla is monopetalous and labiate; the lower lip three, and the upper twotoothed, is of a pale blue colour externally, and delicate violet within. The calix leaves are awl-shaped, and the length of the corolla. Seeds numerous, very small, and contained in egg-shaped inflated capsules, which have given rise to the specific appellation of the plant. It is extremely common throughout the United States, growing on the way sides, in clayey or sterile soils; in neglected fields; and not unfrequently in moist grounds, and on the margins of ditches and field-drains. It is found in every road running from the city of Philadelphia to the neighbouring country, and is particularly abundant about Darby, and in the roads running through Belmont woods. It commences flowering in the last days of July, and continues in bloom till the end of October, and even as late as the first week of November. On the eighth day of last November, whilst travelling from Washington to Baltimore, I observed many specimens in full bloom along the road sides, and I subsequently saw a few flowering individuals on the 16th of November, in the roads through Belmont woods.
The Lobelia inflata is supposed by some to be an annual; by others a biennial; and Mr. Elliot, in his Southern Flora, says it is a perennial plant. Linnaeus, Willdenow, Pursh, and other foreign botanists, have set it down in their books as an annual. I have always considered it a biennial, and have therefore so called it at the head of this chapter.
This plant has been accused in New England and elsewhere of producing the slavers in horses. It seems to be a matter of considerable importance to the farmers, to ascertain the real plant which thus affects their horses, if indeed it be any one particular plant. I am aware that the same effect on these animals, has been ascribed to the Euphorbia hypericifolia (not E. maculata, which is a small procumbent or adpressed plant, and does not grow in cultivated grounds)— to the Hypericum perfoliatum, or common St. John's wort, and other plants. The Indian tobacco is more likely, from its sensible properties, to produce the disease mentioned, than either of the other vegetables.
Lobelia inflata is decidedly one of the most active of our native vegetables. It might perhaps be said with truth, that the United States do not yield a plant of more powerful and unequivocal operation on the human system. And since poisons are generally, under judicious use, good medicines, the Indian tobacco seems to have an undoubted claim to a place in the Materia Medica. It is possessed of an emetic, sudorific, and powerful expectorant effect; but is chiefly remarkable for the first of these operations on the system. When given with a view to empty the stomach, it operates vehemently and speedily; producing, however, great relaxation, debility and perspiration. Like other active emetics, it sometimes operates on the bowels; but its cathartic effect is seldom observable unconnected with its emetic operation. I have not, in various trials with the plant, found it in any instance to affect the alimentary canal, as a primary seat of its operation; yet it is said by some that large doses operate in this way, without producing emesis. It does not appear to be possessed of any particular diuretic property, as was supposed by the late Professor Barton, would be found to be the case.
The first notice I can find in print, of the medicinal virtues of Indian tobacco, is simply a brief remark by Shoepf, that the "root is astringent, and used in opthalmia." He seems to have had little knowledge on the subject, and from the manner in which the plant is mentioned by him, it may reasonably be suspected that a vague rumour only of its medical properties had reached him. The next accounts we have of it as a medicine, are by the Rev. D. Cutler, and the late Professor Barton. The latter does not speak from experience, but remarks that it has been found useful in leucorrhcea; and that it will probably be found diuretic. He is altogether silent respecting its emetic power, though he seems to have suspected that this was the species of Lobelia called in New-England Emetic-weed. Since the accounts of these gentlemen were published, the Lobelia has gained admittance into our dispensatories, and Dr. Thatcher has given a long and satisfactory account of its virtues.
Every portion of this species of Lobelia is endued with the same acrid, pungent, and finally, nauseating taste. On chewing the root, the leaves, the stem, or one of the capsules, the first impression on the palate is not very decided: but on continuing the chewing, a sense of heat or biting is perceived in the back part of the tongue, and in the fauces. At this time the taste of the plant is similar to that of tobacco, seneka, or tartar-emetic; but if the mastication be persevered in, slight giddiness and increase of saliva come on; and if the quantity of the article in the mouth be sufficient, and be swallowed, nausea and excessive vomiting supervene, succeeded by great relaxation of the muscles, perspiration, and prostration of strength. One or two capsules, in the recent state, will produce full vomiting in most persons. From this account, which is faithfully given from the relations of those who have taken the Lobelia by my directions, as well as in part from my own feelings, it is evident that it is very stimulating to the mouth and first passages. This, together with its subsequent effects when taken extensively, would indicate that it is considerably narcotic. It is manifest also from these effects, that the plant is sufficiently deleterious to create dangerous consequences to the system, if administered without great caution. Not only horses and cattle have been supposed to be killed by eating it, but a remarkable instance of its deleterious effects on the system, is related in the report of a trial for murder of a notorious empiric in Massachusetts, who used this Lobelia to a pernicious extent as a nostrum. This daring and ignorant man is said to have "usually prescribed it, and frequently with impunity, in the dose of a common tea-spoonful of the powdered seeds or leaves, and often repeated.
[William Rawle Esq. has put into my hands the report of this trial; and it may not be without a useful tendency to insert it here. In a medical and civil point of view it is equally interesting:]
["COMMONWEALTH versus SAMUEL THOMPSON.]
["At the beginning of this term (Nov. 1809), the prisoner Thompson was indicted for the wilful murder of Ezra Lovett, jun. by giving him a poison called Lobelia on the ninth day of January last, of which he died on the next day. On the twentieth of December, at an adjournment of this term, the prisoner was tried for this offence, before the chief justice, and the judges Sewall and Parker.]
["On the trial it appeared in evidence, that the prisoner, some time in the preceding December, came into Beverly, where the deceased then lived; announced himself as a physician; and professed an ability to cure all fevers, whether black, grey, green, or yellow: declaring that the country was much imposed upon by physicians, who were all wrong if he was right. He possessed several drugs, which he used as medicines, and to which he gave singular names. One he called coffee; another xuell-my-gristle; and a third ram-cats. He had several patients in Beverly and in Salem, previous t? Monday the second of January, when the deceased, having been for several days confined to his house by a cold, requested that the prisoner might be sent for as a physician.]
["He accordingly came, and ordered a large fire to be kindled to heat the room. He then placed the feet of the deceased, with his shoes off, on a stove of hot coals, and wrapped him in a thick blanket, covering his head. In this situation he gave him a powder in water, which immediately puked him. Three minutes after he repeated the dose, which in about two minutes operated violently. He again repeated the dose, which in a short time operated with more violence. These doses were all given within the space of half an hour, the patient in the mean time drinking copiously of a warm decoction, called by the prisoner his coffee. The deceased, after puking, in which he brought up phlegm, but no food, was ordered to a warm bed, where he lay in a profuse sweat all night. Tuesday morning the deceased left his bed, and appeared to be comfortable, complaining only of debility: and in the afternoon he was visited by the prisoner, who administered two 'more of his emetic powders in succession, which puked the deceased, who, during the operation, drank of the prisoner's coffee, and complained of much distress. On Wednesday morning the prisoner came, and after causing the face and hands of the deceased to be washed with rum, ordered him to walk in the air, which he did for about fifteen minutes. In the afternoon the prisoner gave him two more of his emetic powders, with draughts of his coffee. On Thursday the deceased appeared to be comfortable, but complained of great debility. In the afternoon the prisoner caused him to be again sweated, by placing him with another patient, over an iron pan with vinegar heated by hot stones put into the vinegar, covering them at the same time with blankets. On Friday and Saturday the prisoner did not visit the deceased, who appeared to be comfortable, although complaining of increased debility. On Sunday morning, the debility increasing, the prisoner was sent for, and came in the afternoon when he administered another of his emetic powders with his coffee, which puked the deceased, causing him much distress. On Monday he appeared comfortable, but with increasing weakness, until the evening; when the prisoner visited him, and administered another of his emetic powders, and in about twenty minutes repeated the dose. This last dose did not operate. The prisoner then administered pearl-ash mixed with water, and afterwards repeated his emetic potions. The deceased appeared to be in great distress, and said he was dying. The prisoner then asked him how far the medicine had got down. The deceased, laying his hand on his breast, answered here: on which the prisoner observed that the medicine would soon get down, and unscrew his navel: meaning, as was supposed by the hearers, that it would operate as a cathartic. Between nine and ten o'clock in the evening, the deceased lost his reason, and was seized with convulsion fits; two men being required to hold him in bed. After he was thus seized with convulsions, the prisoner got down his throat one or two doses more of his emetic powders; and remarked to the father of the deceased, that his son had got the hyps like the devil, but that his medicines would fetch him down; meaning, as the witness understood, that it would compose him. The next morning the regular physicians of the town were sent for, but the patient was so completely exhausted, that no relief could be given. The convulsions and the loss of reason continued, with some intervals, until Tuesday evening, when the deceased expired.]
["From the evidence it appeared that the coffee administered was a decoction of marsh-rosemary, mixed with the bark of bayberry bush, which was not supposed to have injured the deceased. But the powder which the prisoner said he chiefly relied upon in his practice, and which was the emetic so often administered by him to the deceased, was the pulverized plant, trivially called Indian tobacco. A Dr. French, of Salisbury, testified that this plant, with this name, was well known in his part of the country, where it was indigenous, for its emetic qualities; and that it was gathered and preserved by some families, to be used as an emetic, for which the roots, as well as the stalks and leaves, were administered; and that four grains of the powder were a powerful puke. But a more minute description of this plant was given by the Rev. Dr. Cutler. He testified that it was the Lobelia inflata of Linnaeus: [Lobelia. Class Pentandria. Order Monogynia. Capsule 2 or 3 celled: corol. irregular, cloven: antherae united: stigma simple. Species. Inflata: stem erect; leaves ovate, slightly serrate, longer than the peduncle: capsules inflated. Turt. Lin. vol. 4. pp. 259. 330."][that many years ago, on a botanical ramble, he discovered it growing in a field not far from his house in Hamilton: that, not having Linnxus then in his possession, he supposed it to be a nondescript species of the Lobelia: that by chewing a leaf of it, be was puked two or three times: that he afterwards repeated the experiment with the same effect: that he enquired of his neighbour, on whose ground the plant was found, for its trivial name. He did not know of any; but was apprized of its emetic quality, and informed the doctor that the chewing of one of the capsules operated as an emetic, and that the chewing more would prove cathartic. In a paper soon after communicated by the doctor to the American Academy, he mentioned the plant, with the name of the lobelia medka. He did not know of its being applied to any medical use until the last September, when, being severely afflicted with the asthma, Dr. Drury of Marblehead informed him that a tincture of it had been found beneficial in asthmatic complaints. Dr. C. then made for himself a tincture, by filling a common porter bottle with the plant, pouring upon it as much spirit as the bottle would hold, and keeping the bottle in a sand heat for three or four days. Of this tincture he took a table spoonful, which produced no nausea, and had a slight pungent taste. In ten minutes after he repeated the potion, which produced some nausea, and appeared to stimulate the whole internal surface of the stomach. In ten minutes he again repeated the potion, which puked him two or three times, and excited in his extremities a strong sensation like irritation: but he was relieved from a paroxvsm of the asthma, which had not since returned. He has since mentioned this tincture to some physicians, and has understood from them, that some patients have been violently puked by a tea-spoonful of it: but whether this difference of effect arose from the state of the patients, or from the manner of preparing the tincture, he did not know.]
["The Solicitor General also stated that, before the deceased had applied to the prisoner, the latter had administered the like medicines with those given to the deceased, to several of his patients, who had died under his hands; and to prove this statement he called several witnesses, of whom but one appeared. He, on the contrary, testified that he had been the prisoner's patient for an oppression at his stomach — that he took his emetic powders several times in three or four days, and was relieved from his complaint, which had not since returned. And there was no evidence in the cause, that the prisoner, in the course of his very novel practice, had experienced any other fatal aceideut among his patients.]
["The defence stated by the prisoner's counsel was, that he had for several years, and in different places, pursued his practice with much success; and that the death of the deceased was unexpected, and could not be imputed to him as a crime. But as the court were satisfied, that the evidence produced on the part of the commonwealth did not support the indictment, the prisoner was not put on his defence.]
["The Chief Justice charged the jury: and the substance of his direction, and of several observations, which fell from the court during the trial, are for greater convenience here thrown together.]
["As the testimony of the witnesses was not contradicted, nor their credit impeached, that testimony might be considered as containing the necessary facts, on which the issue must be found.]
["That the deceased lost his life by the unskilful treatment of the prisoner, did not seem to admit of any reasonable doubt: but of this point the jury were to judge. Before the Monday evening preceding the death of Lovett, he had by profuse sweats, and by often repeated doses of the emetic powder, been reduced very low. In this state, on that evening, other doses of this Indian tobacco were administered. When the second potion did not operate, probably because the tone of his stomach was destroyed, the repetition of them, that they might operate as a cathartic, was followed by convulsion fits, loss of reason, and death.]
["But whether this treatment, by which the deceased lost his life, is or is not a felonious homicide, was the great question before the jury.]
["To constitute the crime of murder, with which the prisoner is charged, the killing must have been with malice, either express or implied. There was no evidence to induce a belief that the prisoner, by this treatment, intended to kill or to injure the deceased; and the ground of express malice must fail. It has been said, that implied malice may be inferred from the rash and presumptuous conduct of the prisoner, in administering such violent medicines. Before implied malice can be inferred, the jury must be satisfied that the prisoner, by his treatment of his patient, was wilfully regardless of his social duty, being determined on mischief. But there is no part of the evidence, which proves that the prisoner intended by his practice any harm to the deceased. On the contrary, it appears that his intention was to cure him. The jury would consider whether the charge of murder was, on these principles, satisfactorily supported.]
["But though innocent of the crime of murder, the prisoner may, on this indictment be convicted of manslaughter, if the evidence be sufficient. And the Solicitor General strongly urged, that the prisoner was guilty of manslaughter, because he rashly and presumptuously administered to the deceased a deleterious medicine, which, in his hands, by reason of his gross ignorance, became a deadly poison.]
["The prisoner's ignorance is in this case very apparent. On any other ground consistent with his innocence, it is not easy to conceive, that on the Monday evening before the death when the second dose of his very powerful emetic had failed to operate, through the extreme weakness of the deceased, he could expect a repetition of these fatal poisons would prove a cathartic, and relieve the patient: or that he could mistake convulsion fits, symptomatic of approaching death, for an hypochondriac affection.]
["But on considering this point, the court were all of opinion, notwithstanding this ignorance, that if the prisoner acted with an honest intention and expectation of curing the deceased by this treatment, although death, unexpected by him, was the consequence, he was not guilty of manslaughter.]
["To constitute manslaughter, the killing must have been a consequence of some unlawful act. Now there is no law, which prohibits any man from prescribing for a sick person with his consent, if he honestly intends to cure him by his prescription. And it is not felony, if through his ignorance of the quality of the medicine prescribed, or of the nature of the disease, or of both, the patient contrary to his expectation should die. The death of a man, killed by voluntarily following a medical prescription, cannot be adjudged felony in the party prescribing, unless he, however ignorant of medical science in general, had so much knowledge, or probable information of the fatal tendency of the prescription, that it maybe reasonably presumed by the jury, to be the effect of obstinate wilful rashness at the least, and not of an honest intention and expectation to cure.]
["In the present case there is no evidence that the prisoner, either from his own experience, or from the information of others, had any knowledge of the fatal effects of the Indian tobacco, when injudiciously administered: but the only testimony produced to this point, proved that the patient found a cure from the medicine.]
["The law thus stated, was conformable, not only to the general principles which governed in charges of felonious homicide, but also to the opinion of the learned and excellent lord chief justice Hale. He expressly states that if a physician, whether licensed or not, gives a person a potion, without any intent of doing him any bodily hurt, but with intent to cure, or prevent a disease, and contrary to the expectation of the physician, it kills him, he is not guilty of murder or manslaughter.]
["If in this case it had appeared in evidence, as was stated by the solicitor general, that the prisoner had previously, by administering this Indian tobacco, experienced its injurious effects, in the death or bodily hurt of his patients, and that he afterwards administered it in the same form to the deceased, and he was killed by it, the court would have left it to the serious consideration of the jury, whether they would presume that the prisoner administered it from an honest intention to cure, or from obstinate rashness, and fool-hardy presumption, although he might not have intended any bodily harm to his patient. If the jury should have been of this latter opinion, it would have been reasonable to convict the prisoner of manslaughter at least. For it would not have been lawful for him again to administer a medicine, of which he had such fatal experience.]
["It is to be exceedingly lamented, that people are so easily persuaded to put confidence in these itinerant quacks, and to trust their lives to strangers without knowledge or experience. If this astonishing infatuation should continue, and men are found to vield to the impudent pretensions of ignorant empiricism, there seems to be no adequate remedy by a criminal prosecution, without the interference of the legislature, if the quack, however weak and presumptuous, should prescribe, with honest intentions and expectations of relieving his patients. — The prisoner was acquitted"]
[Tyng's Reports, vol.6, p. 134.
If the medicine does not puke or evacuate powerfully, it frequently destroys the patient, and sometimes in five or six hours. [Thatcher's Disp. 3d ed. p. 402. ] The testimony of Dr. Drury of Marblehead, and the Rev. Dr. Cutler, have brought the Indian tobacco into notice, for the cure and relief of asthma. [For a detailed account of their cases the reader is referred to Thatcher's Dispensatory. ] Induced by their accounts, and the obvious expectorant effects of the plant, I administered it to a domestic in my family, who was distressingly affected with spasmodic asthma. She is a female of narrow and depressed thorax; and for years past has been subject to this complaint. During one of the paroxysms I directed her to take a tea-spoonful of the brandy tincture every two hours. After taking the second spoonful, she was immediately relieved. In a subsequent attack, the experiment was repeated, increasing the dose to a tea-spoonful every hour, and with the same effect; the patient declaring; that she never found such immediate and entire relief from any of the numerous medicines she had previously taken for this complaint. She complained of dizziness, nausea, and some debility, after taking the second spoonful; and told me she suspected the medicine administered was tobacco. Not having since had any attack of the disease, 1 have had no opportunity of giving the medicine a further trial with a view to radical relief. I prescribed it also in a case of asthmatic cough at the naval hospital of this place; and with much relief to the patient. Dr. Samuel Stewart of this city, has prescribed both powdered leaves, and tincture, in a severe case of spasmodic asthma; [Mr. Potter, bookbinder, Carter's alley; who informed me he had been essentially relieved.] and from his own observations, and the testimony of his patient, the doctor is decidedly of opinion that the reputation of Indian tobacco in similar cases, as given by Thatcher and others, is well grounded. Dr. Stewart used the tincture made according to the formula established by the Essex District Medical Society, and administered it in doses similar to those used by Dr. Cutler.
Dr. Thatcher relates a case of hydrophobia effectually cured, in its last stage, by the Lobelia inflata. As the doctor gives us this account at second-hand, and not from a medical man; and as the supposed fact is in itself improbable, he will excuse me in venturing to question whether the case alluded to, was really one of hydrophobia. The accounts of hydrophobic cases too frequently originate in the ignorance of the common people of the real disease designated by that name, aided by fears, and exaggerated by iteration. Yet the peculiar effects of Indian tobacco on the mouth, fauces, and throat, and indeed the excessive relaxation of muscular energy which it produces, when extensively used, may, perhaps, afford some relief in this shocking disease, if timely administered.
I have given the tincture in doses of twenty drops every hour. to two children (one four and the other three years old) labouring under whooping cough; and my success in those cases, has encouraged me to resort freely to the use of this medicine, as a pectoral and antispasmodic in this disease. Dr. Thatcher says, "as a pectoral it has been found useful in consumptive coughs depending on mucus accumulated in the bronchial vessels, by exciting nausea and expectoration." Of its use in such cases I know nothing from experience. He continues, "from its very speedy operation as an emetic, and its stimulating effects on the mouth and fauces, beneficial results might be expected from its use in croup and whooping cough; and on some trials our expectations have been realized in this respect." Of its efficacy in croup I cannot speak from experience, but the following case related to me by Dr. Eberle, whom I have already mentioned, sufficiently justifies the belief, that in this alarming complaint it may be resorted to with probable success, if not with confidence. All who have had occasion to use the common antimonial and other emetics in croup, have seen cause to lament their occasional want of activity; and the plant in question really seems well entitled to the notice of physicians, as an emetic, antispasmodic and expectorant, in that complaint.
"Feb. 16, 1818. — About two months ago I was called to see a child aged eight years, of the Rev. Mr. Endress in Lancaster, affected in a most violent degree with croup. I immediately bled the patient largely, without however affording much relief. The child was nearly strangulated when I saw it first; the bleeding relieved it somewhat, but it still laboured excessively in breathing. From the suddenness of the attack of the disease, and its immediate great violence, I looked upon the case as spasmodic croup. Having seen in other cases the great relaxing effects of the Lobelia inflata, I determined to give to the child that emetic. I took about half a drachm of the dried plant, and infused it in half a pint of water. The child took one table-spoonful; in about ten minutes afterwards the dose was repeated. This induced a very great degree of nausea; a little more of the infusion was given which brought on vomiting. The disease from this moment disappeared; not the least hoarseness or difficulty of breathing remained. The nausea continued for more than three hours."
Dr. Eberle has also furnished me with an account of its use, by injection, instead of tobacco, in a case of strangulated hernia. The efficacy of the injected decoction in this instance, derives peculiar importance from the speedy relief occasioned by it, and the strong evidence it affords of the value of botanical knowledge to a physician, particularly one practising in the country.
"In September, 1816, I was called to Mr. Bowman, ten miles south of Lancaster, for the purpose of reducing a strangulated scrotal hernia; after having used a variety of means for the reduction of the protruded parts unsuccessfully, I resolved on trying the tobacco injection; on making inquiry, however, I found that there was none in the house. A person was immediately sent to a neighbouring house for the purpose of procuring some. In the mean time, how ever, I gathered some of the Lobelia, and made a strong decoction of it. I injected half a pint of this decoction. In about twenty minutes the patient began to feel very sick, and made some efforts to vomit; I now endeavoured to reduce the hernia, but did not succeed. As the sickness did not proceed to a very great degree of prostration, I ventured to inject about one gill more. Almost immediately a very profuse perspiration broke out, over all his body; the sickness became extremely distressing; and every part of the body seemed in a perfect state of relaxation. The hernia was now readily returned. The sickness continued for nearly one hour after the last injection was given."
The wild tobacco should be plucked up by the roots, in the month of August or September, while in flower at the top of the branches, and full of the inflated capsules below. The whole plant should be then carefully dried for use, pulverised, or made into tincture. I have used both the tincture made from the recent plant, and from the dried leaves and capsules; and think the former was most active. From five to fifteen, and sometimes twenty grains of the powdered leaves, will produce emesis in an adult; but as it is a powerful plant, the dose should be small and repeated. The satuated tincture may be given to an adult, to the extent of one, rarely two table spoonfuls every three hours; it is proper however to commence by a pap or tea-spoonful, and increase the dose. Ten drops of this tincture will be a sufficient dose for a child under twelve months; and over one, and under three years, from twenty to forty or fifty drops, as the circumstances may require, or the patient may seem to bear. A child of five years will bear eighty or ninety drops, without any distressing effect. If given in cases of croup, it will, perhaps, be necessary to use larger doses than these. I cannot conclude this article, without earnestly calling the attention of the physicians of our country to the plant under consideration. It is common every where in the United States, and easily recognised or identified.
Fig. 1. Is a representation of the lower portion of Lobelia infiata, of the natural size, having about three inches of the stem near the root, cut off.
2. Is the upper portion of the same plant, severed from fig. 1, at the asterisk.
3. A flower.
4. The corolla opened.
5. The vesicular, nerved capsule.
6. The corolla removed, shewing the calix, column of five stamens, and pistil.
7. The incipient capsule and pistil.
8. A stamen separated.