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The healing power of tobacco

  1. Almost all types of tobacco plant come from North America. Some species can be found in Australia, New Guinea and the islands of the Pacific Ocean. The American Indians had been smoking tobacco since at least 100 AD, 1,300 years before Christopher Columbus was the first Westerner to see them smoke tobacco. Smoking tobacco was part of religious rituals. Blowing tobacco smoke over a patient's body is part of an ancient healing method. In Europe, tobacco smoke used to be blown in through the anus of a fainted person in the hope that it would recover more quickly. This medicinal use has been quickly abandoned.


  1. Sniffing tobacco First medicine, then stimulant Tobacco as a pain reliever Tobacco as a sleeping aid The plague and tobacco Nicotine Europeans are starting to smoke Tobacco is dangerous

Sniffing tobacco

  1. Before Columbus saw the Indians smoking tobacco, he saw them sniff it. Columbus initially landed in Cuba, which is located off the coast of North America. He saw the Indians powder and sniff tobacco through a long cane stem that had a Y-shape at the end that fits snugly into the nostrils. They put the other end in a pile of powder and began to inhale. This snuff tube was called tobacca or tobago by the Indians, which the Spaniards corrupted into tobacco. The Spaniards used this name for the plant instead of the snuff tube. Incidentally, there is also an island called Tobago in that region and some experts believe that the name of this island is the origin of the word tobacco.

First medicine, then stimulant

  1. In 1535, Spaniards in North America began to cultivate the tobacco plant. The plant was taken to Spain as an ornamental plant, but the plant was initially praised in Europe for its medicinal qualities. A Spanish doctor first described the tobacco plant as a medicine. He named the plant after his friend and French Amassadeur Jean Nicot. Hence, the Latin name Tabacum Nicotiana and the main substance in tobacco is nicotine.

Tobacco as a painkiller

  1. As a medicinal plant, the tobacco plant was mainly used as an external pain reliever. It was used in liniments for headaches, migraines, seizures and gout. Tobacco leaves were burned and the hot ashes were put on the painful areas. In addition, tobacco leaves were used to relieve toothache. A juice was made from the tobacco leaves and a ball of linen was dipped in it. This juice was put on the gums. Then a ball was made from a tobacco leaf which was placed in a hollow, rotten tooth.

Tobacco as a sleeping aid

  1. Tobacco juice has long been used as a sleep aid. They drank 10 centilitres of juice before going to sleep. An oil was also made from the tobacco leaves. This oil has been used to treat winter feet, magpie eyes and other skin ailments. In addition, the juice was used when one was stung by an ugly insect. The wound was washed out with the juice.

The plague and tobacco

  1. In 1665 the plague broke out in London. At that time people liked to chew on the tobacco leaves in the hope that this terrible disease would pass them by. It even became a habit to smoke the leaves against the plague. Little children also were given the medicine tobacco; they had to smoke a pipe of tobacco in the morning after getting up and in the evening before going to sleep.


  1. Tobacco is a narcotic plant; it brings peace and tranquility to people. It also works up vomiting. In addition to vomiting, it can cause depression and convulsions even when ingested. That is why internal use has been abandoned early on. For a long time, the leaves have been boiled in lard to obtain a spread that helps with ulcers and painful tumors. However, external use was not without risk. The nicotine in tobacco easily penetrates the skin and many people have died. Nicotine is an extremely toxic substance; it has long been used in agriculture to kill insects.

Europeans start smoking

  1. Simultaneously with the use of tobacco as a medicinal plant, people started smoking. That happened in the 16th century. It was Sir Walter Raleigh who took a pair of pipes and an Indian to England to make tobacco famous. He only partially succeeded; it was the English Admiral Hawkins who eventually made tobacco really popular. Tobacco smoking today is surrounded by controversy and that's how it started with Kings and Popes fighting the habit of smoking tobacco. It was a foreign custom of wild people that was suddenly taken over in civilized Europe. Tobacco smoking was combated, among other things, by sketching that magicians and priests from tropical regions inhaled the tobacco until they were drunk and suspended in death, after which people began to hallucinate and made all kinds of prophecies and predictions. Probably the opponents mixed up several things because tobacco is sedative and not really hallucinogenic, while Indians did use other hallucinogenic agents to temporarily shift or stretch the mind and participate in dimensions that many can only dream of.

Tobacco is dangerous

  1. Today we know that tobacco is a dangerous substance. The tobacco that some people smoke is processed with dozens of substances to make it more addictive. All these substances ensure that the smoker lights a cigarette more often, which increases the risk of becoming ill. The immune system is working to minimize the damage caused by tobacco smoke and therefore has less time to fight other diseases. Still, there are people over 100 who smoke daily. Would they smoke so little that the medicinal aspects of tobacco outweigh the nasty side effects?

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