Tobacco consumption has been a part of human culture for thousands of years with the oldest known use recorded in C.E. 550. Although there is no archaeological proof of tobacco prior to this date, experts believe that tobacco was used in many parts of the world. There sixty four species in the tobacco family are mostly found in the Americas and Australia. Interestingly, tobacco belongs to the same plant family as potatoes, peppers and tomatoes.
The most active ingredient in the tobacco plant is nicotine which was named after Jean Nico, an explorer from France who brought tobacco to Paris. Tobacco was first noticed when Christopher Columbus and his crew smoked this seemingly exotic plants in tavaco pipes. These explorers came across tobacco in the Native Indian culture that used tobacco in many aspects of their lifestyle. Tobacco was smoked before warfare, during social gatherings and rituals, and used as medicine.
Tobacco leaves are considered to possess anti cancer properties and were used widely by doctors in Cuba and Brazil. It was used as a disinfectant and to treat sores and ulcers. Fresh tobacco leaves were known to sooth headaches and pain. Tobacco was also used by the explorers to treat snake bites, dizziness, and used treated like an anti parasitic.
Tobacco has earned the reputation of being a toxic substance. However, it is interesting to note that tobacco has several medicinal benefits and is toxic only when smoked. Despite being a medicinally useful plant, tobacco has earned a dubious reputation as tobacco smoke from cigarettes has the potential to kill addicts.
Tobacco was used in antiquity to treat skin ulcers as it was believed to contain cancer fighting properties. Although thorough research has not been conducted so far, scientists believe that tobacco may indeed possess such qualities. It is ironic that tobacco, that has been associated with cancer for so long, can potentially fight it. However, in today’s age, it has become more important to find a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes, and the ever popular electronic cigarette is certainly filling this role effectively.