Medical Uses for Tobacco (Maybe Not So Bad for Your Health)

medical uses for tobacco

Tobacco has gotten a bad rap in the 21st century. From being the leading cause of heart issues, addiction, and various cancers; there is really not that much to tobacco that is relatively “good”. There are herbalists and scientists out

tobacco on open wounds

Free-Photos / Pixabay

there, that say there are redeeming qualities and medical uses for tobacco. Usually, when something is relatively bad for your health it carries a stigma no matter what you do.

In modern medicine, it has been seen that long-term use of certain drugs can cause issues but short-term use can, in fact, help the common person in many ways. We all know there are cases such as with steroids can stimulate certain muscles such as the lungs into working correctly. And morphine in which small amounts IV’d can prevent the body from going into shock. As long these items are used responsibly,  their use can lead to positive effects and even help the recuperation or continued function of the body.

What is Tobacco?

Nicotiana tabacum is the scientific name for the tobacco plant. This plant is part of the genus Nicotiana and of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. While there are many variations, numbering up to more than 70 species of tobacco plants. The chief commercial crop is N. tabacum, With the most potent varient N. rustica is also used around the world.

The active ingredient that makes this plant both addicting and potentially curative, is its alkaline element called Nicotine. This type of chemical creates feelings of euphoria when inhaled or chewed, and can lead to long-term addiction due to the body becoming easily dependent on the chemical.


Originating in North America, the native Americans coveted this item for its uses in rituals and for recreation. The Native Americans often referred to the plant as a gift from the “all maker”, and when smoked or inhaled gave the user the ability to convene with higher beings. It was only until the late 1550’s when explorers from Europe began to explore America, did the vested interest in the plant began.

A French ambassador by the name of Lisbon Jean, Nicot was one of the reasons why Tabacco became so widely used in Europe. Nicot was given a plant as a gift from a prison warden, from a prison he had been stopping by. After planting it in his personal garden, where it quickly began to take root, he had heard one of his pages had become stricken ill with an ulcer like lesion on the skin.

This disease was named Noli-me-tangere and was very common in the era. Nonetheless, this disease had already begun to take precedent on the young page’s face. The page had acted in a fit of desperation and had applied tobacco leaves that were crushed and chewed to the afflicted area.

Upon hearing this, Nicot demanded the page to keep this treatment going for 8 days. After this period of time had passed the lesion had become severely diminished and the royal physician that had looked over this page’s ailment, and was very impressed with the amount of healing that was done.

After this period of time had passed the lesion had become severely diminished and the royal physician that had looked over this page’s ailment, and was very impressed with the amount of healing that was done.

This event acted as a catalyst for the bloom of tobacco, as it was then given and used through the higher echelons of society and merchants alike, as this tobacco was perfect in disinfecting flesh wounds and other various skin lesions.

Tobacco Medical Uses

As we have seen in the past, there were much more medicinal uses for tobacco than just smoking. It was often put the connotation of being a magic cure-all, being able to alleviate toothaches, decrease inflammation, and even destroy pestilence. This might be far-fetched on paper, but in reality, it seems that all this information was not based on hearsay. In some middle eastern countries, tobacco leaves are used to clean and whiten teeth.

Modern Issues

Obviously, the largest health issue with tobacco is its addicting quality. to the medical community, smoking is the single most easily avoidable carcinogen known to modern-day society. Even though it may be horrible, it goes to show how little people seem to care about the damage long term inhalation. Even if it can cause cancer, lung damage, and death it usually falls on deaf ears. Unsurprisingly, Nicotine is the main reason behind the health issues, as it acts as the catalyst for the addiction of smokers.

Final Thoughts

Tobacco is one of the most used recreational drugs in the world. Even though history has made it infamous, there are still redeeming qualities. While one may hope their life might not be left to the healing qualities of a plant that tends to be a carcinogen, at least you will know that tobacco is effective enough to make it through.

1 Comment

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