To them the creator had brought it down as gift the waft of which carried prayers directly to the creator. Columbus brought it back to Europe it caught the fancy of the Portuguese court. The wonder leaf was named Nicotianne in honour of Jean Nicot the French ambassador at Portugal. The herb unfortunately caused addiction and tolerance along with hallucinations.
Thus began the journey of entheogenic herb to a recreational herb to the ultimate killer herb.
The name tobacco is believed to have evolved from tobaggo the Y shaped instrument used to smoke it in the Caribbean. However the 9th century Arabic texts refer to tabbaq that resembles tobacco for medicinal purposes.
The European settlers of Americas cultivated tobacco as an agricultural crop until the advent of cotton which was more profitable. Until tobacco market went global.
The common strains of tobacco grown are Nicotiana Tabacum and Nicotiana Rustica. Despite its medicinal value interestingly most herbivorous animals kept away from it. So it was classified as an invasive weed.
From this an alkaloid called nicotine is extracted which is a colourless oily liquid which is highly poisonous. It is a potent insecticide.
Tobacco made inroads through snuff, chewing and rolled cigarettes.
Then came the American civil war which brought a greater use and addiction to tobacco cigarettes made their entry into the common market.
With the two world wars tobacco invaded the world.
In 1900 people started studying and linking the ill effects of tobacco. Particularly in 1970 when brown and Williams cross bred a strain that was 8.5-3.5% rich in nicotine.
Early medicinal use of tobacco:
- Curative for asthma
- An enema was given to clear intestinal obstructions
- Oral pain was alleviated by using tobacco
- A dentifrice of tobacco was used to whiten teeth and reduce thirst.
Why did it survive for 250 yrs?
- Nicotine binds with the receptors of the brain, it releases a hormone called endomorphine which gives a feel good high this feeling masks the pain hence the person feels like the pain has reduced.
- This is followed by withdrawal, the withdrawal vanishes on the next fix so it appears miraculous.
The entheogenic herb has been devoured by a market and converted it to a killer weed.