Asthma / 1995


Date: Thu, 10 Aug 1995 08:25:23 +1100
From: christopher hedley
Subject: Asthma

>> I would be interested in details of lobelia fatalities. There seems to be some difference of opinion pertaining to the toxicity of Lobelia.

>In my last post I listed the British Herbal Compendium Vol 1 as as my source of information - the British Herbal Compendium lists it source as the "Martindale The Extra Pharmacopoeia" I have looked up this source for you - It states that a 48 year old women with bronchitis and asthma took 2 inhalations of orciprenaline sulphate and inhaled for 5-10 minutes the smoke from ignited compound Lobelia powder (containing lobelia and stramonium). She collapsed and 5-10 minutes later was pale and slightly cyanosed, the skin was moist, and pupils dilated, the bladder was voided, and heart and breath sounds absent. Attempts at cardiac and respiratory resuscitation were unsuccessful. The women had used the lobelia reparation for 20 years without any ill-effects.

From: christopher hedley <christopher.GN.APC.ORG>

The symptoms mentioned in Martindales are more consistant with Datura = stramonium poisoning, than with Lobelia. Note that she had also taken orciprenaline, which can cause arrythmias and tachycardia...being only slightly more subtle than adrenaline. It would seem that the woman was suffering from heart failure, common enough with chronic bronchitis and the mixture overstrained her weakened heart.

Lobelia is generally safe to use as a tea or tincture in small doses, since people will vomit long before poisonous doses are reached. There can be a problem with methods of taking it which by-pass the stomach, such as suppositories, but most herbalists regard it as a generally safe herb. It was used much more often in the past and older herbals sometimes recommend doses that would be poorley tolerated these days. My advice is to use it only with the guidance of someone who knows the herb well!

A Few Remarks....

C Oinonen Ehren's advice is good, its especially helpful to get advice from other sufferers. Asthma is really a subject for professional help but there are many helpful common sense measures.

Deal with the causes, stress and/or allergies. Take lung 'tonics' to keep them healthy and clear and use herbs such as Ephedra = Ma Hung as little as possible.

Breathing exercises are the best preventative measure. I know of one person who cured her asthma by taking up swimming - using a crawl stroke done properly, not the breast stroke trying to keep your head out of the water, which just adds to tension. Luckily she wasn't allergic to the swimming bath additives.

From: christopher hedley <christopher.GN.APC.ORG>
Subject: asthma & swimming pools

>What is it about the chemicals in the pool that cause a flare up of asthma? Both of my boys get asthma especially bad when they go swimming.

Chlorine and the newer disinfectants that are added to swimming pools are strong irritants. With severe asthma the irritation is enough to set off an attack, in the same way as tobacco smoke. In milder cases, or for people with a relativly small number of allergies, you might be able to de-sensitize. The simplest way is to buy the appropriate chemical in homeopathic potency, from your local homeopathic pharmacy or friendly local homeopath. [sorry about the non-herbal input here, but it is the simplest method].

'Speedwell' could be a number of herbs, most likely Veronica spp.

Elecampane root = Inula helenium, Mullein leaves or flowers = Verbascum thaspus, Coltsfoot leaves or flowers = Tussilago farfara and Thyme herb = thymus spp. are my favourite long term, strenghtening herbal teas. Hyssop herb = hyssopus off. can be too drying, especially if the asthma is mostly stress triggered.

Garlic chopped up in honey, 2 or 3 teaspoons daily is excellent if the asthma is always associated with coughs or bronchitis. It is also helpful for allergies.

If there is a large stress component try regular use of relaxing nervines such as Valerian root decoction = valeriana off.

I find the best way to deal with an acute attack is to make up an emulsion of Lobelia and Thyme and rub it into the sufferer's back with nice, smooth, circular movements but, again, it is best to find professional guidance, at least at first.