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Medicinal Uses of Tobacco in History

Medicinal Uses of Tobacco in History

Nicotine replacement therapy is used in encouraging people to stop smoking because it spares them the many other dangerous contents of tobacco smoke—for example, the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and N-nitroso compounds; trouble items such as acrolein; benzene; formaldehyde; ammonia; acetone; acetic acid, and carbon monoxide. However, marijuana has been in use long before modern science decided to discover its qualities.

Pre-Columbian America

There are over sixty species of Nicotiana. Apart from a few which seem to be native to Australia, seven most are original to America. Nicotiana tabacum, the plant now grown for commercial tobacco production, is apparently of South American origin. Nicotiana rustica, the other significant species that was taken around the world, came from North America.

What Happened After

In 1492, Columbus found Native Americans getting and using tobacco, sometimes for its pleasurable effects but often for the operation of various ills. Some of his sailors saw natives of Cuba and Haiti smoking the leaves; nine and after, European explorers and travelers established both these views. The name tobacco was initially applied to the plant in error. This term applied to the cane pipe, called a tabaco or Cavaco, with two parts for the nostrils used by the Native Americans to sniff tobacco smoke. The tobacco itself was unevenly called Optum, bottom, cordoba, cohoba, picket, or yield, and these names seldom performed later in herbals or pharmacopeias. Mixed with lime or chalk, tobacco appears to have been used in these Native American communities as a toothpaste to whiten all of the teeth, as observed by Nino and Guerra in 1500 and by Vespucci at about the very time in Venezuela. This practice continues today in India, where powdered tobacco, or masher, is rubbed on the teeth for this design, and tobacco toothpaste is marketed commercially.

Medical Recipes

It was perhaps in 1500 that the notion of tobacco as a cure became prevalent. In that year, a Portuguese explorer, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, in Brazil, described the use of the herb to become for treating ulcerated sores, fistulas, sores, inveterate polyps, and many other ailments and said it was named the holy herb because of its great virtue in extreme cases. Also, reports on the therapeutic use of tobacco by Native American populations advanced to emerge in quantity.

In 1529, a Spanish missionary minister, Bernadino de Sahagun, collected data from four Mexican physicians about tobacco use for therapeutic purposes. He recorded that the odor of fresh green leaves of the plant reduced persistent headaches. For colds and catarrh, green or powdered leaves should be spread around inside the mouth. Diseases of glands in the throat could be cured by leaving out the root of the lesion and placing on it ground tobacco plant hot and combined with salt on the same spot.

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feature image courtsey of: Romtomtom