Preparation: Ointment of Tobacco
"The commercial, dried leaves of Nicotiana Tabacum, Linné"—(U. S. P.).
COMMON NAME AND SYNONYM: Leaf tobacco; Tabaci folia.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 191.
Botanical Source.—This is an annual herb, with a long, fibrous root, and an erect, round, hairy, viscid stem, branched toward the top, and from 4 to 6 feet in height. The alternate leaves are sessile, ovate or lanceolate, acuminate, decurrent, viscid, pale green, 1 or 2 feet long, and 6 or 8 inches broad. The under surface of the tobacco leaf is marked by a prominent, thick midrib, sending off, at acute angles, lateral veins, which terminate near the margin of the leaf in a curved manner. The flowers are rose-colored, and produced in panicles at the ends of the stems and branches. The bracts are linear and acute. The calyx is urceolate, hairy, glutinous, half as long as the corolla, and ends in 5 acute segments. Corolla funnel-shaped, swelling toward the top, the border dull-red, expanding, with 5 acute, crimped lobes. Stamens 5; filaments inclined to one side, with oblong anthers. Ovary ovate; style long and slender; stigma capitate and cloven. Capsule ovate, invested with the calyx, 2-celled, 2-valved, but opening crosswise at top, and loculicidal. The seeds are very numerous, small, somewhat reniform, and attached to a fleshy receptacle (L.—W.—R.).
History.—Tobacco is a native of the warmer parts of America, and was first exported to England, in 1586, by Sir Walter Raleigh. According to the authors of the Pharmacographia, it was carried to Europe by the Spaniards on their return from discovering America (1492), and employed for its medicinal effects. At present, it is raised in many parts of the world, and especially in the middle states of this country. The strongest and more commonly used tobacco is raised in Virginia, but the Cuban or Havana leaf is preferred by smokers. The plant flowers in July. In cultivating tobacco the seeds are thickly sown in beds of prepared soil; the young plants are reset in the last month of spring, into fields, where they are placed in rows at distances of 2, 3, or 4 feet apart, and, in order to obviate the flowering and consequent formation of seed, the tops are removed from time to time. Close vigilance is required until the plant is ready for harvest, which is generally in the last summer month, when the matured plants are cut off just above their roots, hung up in bundles under sheds to dry, after which the leaves are removed from the stalks and packed in hogsheads or boxes for market. There are several varieties of this plant, all of which appear to possess analogous virtues. Soil and the peculiar method adopted in raising this plant, as well as the various methods of curing the leaf, will influence the quality of the final product. (For a detailed account of the production and treatment of the more important tobacco grades of commerce, see L. Janke, Forschungsberichte über Lebensmittel, 1897, pp. 58-69.)
Description.—Commercial tobacco is usually of a dark-brown or orange-brown color; though its shades differ, of a powerful, heavy, disagreeable odor, and a peculiar, bitter, sickening taste, followed by a very disagreeable sense of acridity in the fauces. The dark leaves are much stronger and more powerful in their action than the light-colored. The U. S. P. describes dried tobacco leaves as follows: "Up to 50 Cm. (20 inches) long, oval or ovate-lanceolate, acute, entire, brown, friable, glandular-hairy, of a heavy, peculiar odor, and a nauseous, bitter, and acrid taste"—(U.S. P.). Water or alcohol extract the virtues of dried tobacco leaves. Continued boiling materially impairs their activity.
Chemical Composition.—The aroma of dried tobacco leaves is due to a small quantity of tobacco camphor or nicotianin (Vauquelin, 1809; Hermbstädt, 1823); it is volatile with steam, forms white, scaly crystals, is of neutral reaction, little soluble in water, soluble in alcohol and ether. The toxic properties of tobacco leaves are due to the alkaloid nicotine, discovered by Posselt and Reimann, in 1828, yet the quality of tobacco for smoking purposes does not depend on the quantity of nicotine present. The latter varies in the different grades of leaf from 0.4 to as high as 8 per cent. Smoking tobacco contains less (about 0.4 to 1.3 per cent), owing to partial volatilization of nicotine in the curing process. The alkaloid exists in the leaves combined with malic and citric acids, of which 10 to 14 per cent is present in dried leaves. These acids are supposed to be chiefly combined with potassium. The dried leaves yield a large amount of ash (18 to 27 per cent). Potassium nitrate is among the mineral constituents, occurring especially in the midrib, and may amount to as much as 10 per cent (Flückiger, Pharmacognosie des Pflanzenreichs, 3d ed., 1891, p. 715). Other constituents of the fresh leaves are albuminous matters (25 per cent), gum, (5 per cent), resin (4 to 6 per cent), tannic acid, sugar (tabacose, Attfield, 1884), wax, calcium oxalate, etc. The poisonous constituents of tobacco smoke are small amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, and hydrogen cyanide, somewhat larger quantities of picoline bases (methyl pyridines), and considerable amounts of nicotine (R. Kissling, see Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1882, pp. 492 and 628; and H. Thoms, Berichte d. Deutsch. Pharm. Ges., 1900, p. 19).
NICOTINE (Nicotia, C10H14N2), when freshly distilled, is a colorless, mobile liquid, of an intense, peculiar odor, differing from the accustomed tobacco odor, and an acrid, burning taste. It is very poisonous. Exposed to air and light, it turns dark, and partly resinifies. It is slowly volatilized at ordinary temperature, and can be distilled with the vapors of boiling water. Heated by itself, it boils, with decomposition, at about 240° C. (464° F.), but does not decompose in an atmosphere of hydrogen. It begins to distill at a much lower temperature (146° C., or 294.8° F.). It is miscible with water, alcohol, ether, chloroform, and fatty oils, the solutions being strongly alkaline. Nicotine is heavier than water, and forms salts with acids, which do not easily crystallize. It is a pyridine derivative, forming, upon oxidation, nicotinic acid (beta-pyridine-carbonic acid) C5H4N.COOH). (Also see A. Pinner's researches, Archiv der Pharm., 1893, p. 378, and 1895, P . 572.) Nicotine may be obtained by adding to a concentrated tobacco extract, solution of caustic soda or lime, distilling with steam, extracting the distillate with ether, and carefully evaporating the solvent. (For another method, that of Schloesing, see this Dispensatory, preceding edition.) R. Kissling (Fresenius' Zeitschrift f. Analyt. Chem., 1882, pp. 64-90) assays tobacco by agitating 20 grammes, in powder form, with alcoholic caustic soda, exhausting the mixture with ether, carefully distilling off the greater part of the solvent, adding diluted caustic soda to the residue, distilling off the nicotine with steam, and titrating each 100 Cc. of the distillate with volumetric sulphuric acid solution, using rosolic acid for indicator. (For other methods, see Archiv der Pharm., 1893, p. 658; and Jour. Amer. Chem. Soc. Proc., 1899, p. 32.)
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Tobacco and, in a greater degree, its alkaloid, nicotine, exhibit powerful acro-narcotic properties. Applied to the nose, it occasions sneezing and increased mucous flow. Internally, in small amounts, they produce acrid heat in the throat, gastric warmth, nausea, and sometimes purging. Salivation and diuresis are increased. They allay general unrest and quiet mental inquietude, and give to the patient a sense of languid repose. Larger doses, however, produce a hot, acrid, and raw feeling in the throat and fauces, extreme nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and great prostration of muscular and nervous power. Muscular relaxation, with trembling of the extremities, is marked; great anxiety, mental confusion, feeble pulse, pale countenance, and marked depression of heart-action, are prominent among the effects. The body is bathed in cold sweat, the breathing oppressed and laborious, there is photophobia and impaired hearing, the limbs are helpless, and faintness, followed by unconsciousness, may supervene. These effects may occur from the use of tobacco in any form, whether internally or externally applied. Those accustomed to the disgusting habit of chewing or smoking tobacco, become so tolerant of the effects of the weed as not to become affected, or but slightly so, in the manner described. Even in these there is, however, more or less nervous impairment, which becomes manifest when the weed is withdrawn for a day or more. The pernicious habit of cigarette smoking, now under the ban of the law, in regard to minors, in many localities, has done incalculable harm—a rapid pulse, irritable heart (tobacco heart), disordered innervation, nervous prostration, general debility, emaciation, dyspepsia, and a train of other evils, being the result of intemperance in the use of this plant. Toxic (tobacco) amblyopia is frequently produced by the excessive use of tobacco. In chronic tobacco poisoning, there may be epithelial cancer of the mouth, tongue, or lips, or other destructive ulcers of the mouth, follicular pharyngitis, bronchorrhoea, feeble and rapid cardiac action, color-blindness, etc. Nicotine acts chiefly upon the sympathetic and spinal nervous systems, and, when it kills, does so by paralysis of the heart, or respiratory paralysis (asphyxia). In point of toxic power, nicotine is asserted to be second only to prussic acid. A single drop has killed a rabbit in 3 ½ minutes (Taylor). Among celebrated murders, that of a brother killed with nicotine, by Count and Countess Bocarmé (Ann. d'Hyg., 1851), is a matter of historical record. A child of 3 years was killed from blowing bubbles from an old pipe which had not been used for a year, but had been washed previous to being used by the child. The symptoms were those of narcotic poisoning (Taylor, Med. Jurisp., p. 204). In poisoning by tobacco, the use of stimulants may be resorted to. Among these may be mentioned strychnine, whiskey, and ether, subcutaneously; aromatic spirit of ammonia, tannin and iodides (chemical antagonists), camphor, digitalis, strophanthus, internally; and external heat.
Tobacco infusion is more apt to affect the heart, and its smoke to act on the nervous system—the former being followed by great feebleness of the pulse, fluttering of the heart, faintness, alarm, etc., while the latter occasions nausea and vomiting, followed by drowsiness. Medicinally, it is a sedative, emetic, diuretic, expectorant, discutient, antispasmodic, errhine, antiseptic, and sialagogue. Tobacco should be seldom employed internally, as we have other agents much safer and fully as effectual to meet every desired indication. However, a tincture of the fresh plant has been advised as a sedative in respiratory disorders of children, and a water (Aqua Nicotianae Tabacum Spirituosae Rademacheri; see Scudder's Spec. Med., p. 187, for formula (not in the 1870 edition)) has been advised in the brain complications of fevers, in both wandering and fixed acute rheumatism, in brain and spinal cord affections, and in cholera morbus and Asiatic cholera. The alkaloid nicotine, and, in some instances, tobacco, have been most potent in the relief of tetanus. The larger doses may be employed—from ½ to 1 drop of nicotine, hypodermatically. For other purposes only the small doses hereinafter advised should be given.
Tobacco is seldom used as an emetic, except in cases where, from extreme insensibility of the stomach, ordinary emetics will not operate. The smoke injected into the rectum, or the leaf itself, in the shape of a suppository, and introduced into the rectum, or an enema of tobacco, has been beneficial in strangulated hernia, obstinate constipation front spasm of the bowels, in retention of urine from spasmodic urethral stricture, hysterical convulsions, worms, and in spasms caused by lead; likewise in spasmodic croup, spasmodic asthma, and constipation, with inflammation of peritoneum, to produce evacuations of the bowels, moderating reaction, and dispelling tympanites. To use the infusion of smoke, blow the smoke into milk or water and inject. Hiccough has been relieved by swallowing tobacco smoke. In spasmodic croup and spasm of the rima glottidis, a plaster made of Scotch snuff and lard, and applied to the throat and chest, has proved very effectual; or a cataplasm of the leaves may be employed. Inhalation of tobacco smoke sometimes relieves a tickling, irritable cough, produced by irritation or other nervous action in the larynx or trachea; spasmodic laryngitis has also been similarly relieved. An ointment of tobacco has been found valuable in several forms of cutaneous disease, as scabies, urticaria, etc. Fresh cuts may be treated with tobacco moistened from time to time with alcohol. The leaves, in combination with belladonna or stramonium leaves, will be found an excellent application to old, obstinate ulcers, painful tumors, and for spasmodic affections. A reputed cure for piles, is the application and maintenance there, for 3 or 4 hours, of a wet leaf to the parts. The inspissated juice has cured facial neuralgia, being rubbed along the track of the affected nerve. Topically, the leaves or an infusion, applied by means of a compress, allay pain in rheumatism, gout, orchitis, epididymitis, buboes, and other glandular inflammations, scirrhous and scrofulous tumors, phimosis, paraphimosis, boils, painful hemorrhoids, and erysipelatous inflammations. An enema of tobacco has given relief in dysentery, but extreme caution should be observed in its use. An ointment (tobacco, 1 drachm, to lard, 1 ounce), has been advised to relax rigid os uteri during parturition. Rectal ascarides and lumbricoid worms have been expelled by the inflation of the rectum with tobacco smoke, or by injection of the infusion. It has also been used to destroy maggots in the nose and ear. In using tobacco at all, great caution should always be observed, and if it produce great depression (as it is apt to do very suddenly), or too lasting a sedative effect, stimulants, as ammonia or brandy, should be administered. The quantity for an injection ought not to exceed 20 grains at first; if this fails, cautiously increase it, for even ½ drachm has often proved fatal. If the injection does not come away in 5 minutes, it should be assisted by throwing up a large quantity of warm water. A wine of tobacco may be used in from 1 to 20-drop doses. Nicotine is too dangerous for general use. The beginning dose should not exceed 1/100 grain, although as high as 1 grain has been recommended. The dose of tobacco, as an emetic, is 5 grains.
Related Species and Preparation.—Other species of Nicotiana have been cultivated for their leaves. Some which figured as distinct species, are now regarded as varieties of Nicotiana Tabacum. Among these are N. petiolata, Agardh; N. fruticosa, Linné; N. macrophylla, Lehman, etc. The species said to be cultivated in Cuba, yielding Havana leaf, is the Nicotiana repanda, Willdenow, though Vidal denies this, stating that only N. Tabacum is there grown. Shiras or Persian tobacco is reputed the product of N. persica, Linné. That known as tumbaki (of Turkish and Persian tobacco) has in the past been attributed to N. rustica and N. persica, but is now said to be the product of N. Tabacum (Kew Bulletin, 1891). Latakia tobacco, formerly said to be the product of N. rustica, is now held to be the flowering heads and capsules of N. Tabacum flavored by being exposed to the smoke of Pinus halipensis, Aiton (Dyer).
DYNAMYNE.—This name was given by Lloyd Brothers to a preparation which contains the alkaloids of tobacco. It is a green-colored, hydro-alcoholic liquid, and is designed for external use only. The name was selected at the request of the late Prof. A. J. Howe, M.D., who desired a characteristic term for a preparation he prescribed extensively and valued highly. Dynamyne, when well diluted with water, is destructive to many plant insects, but does not appear to materially affect the plants to which it is applied. Owing to its toxic nature, care should be exercised in handling or inhaling it. Dynamyne is an agent of great value, and is fast becoming established as a remedy to relieve pain, both deep-seated and superficial. A solution of 1 to 4 fluid drachms of dynamyne in 1 pint of water, may be applied to localized inflammations, to relieve the pains of neuralgia, rheumatism, felons, abscesses, pleurodynia, etc., and many other conditions in which the local effects of tobacco, in a more pronounced degree, are desired. It should not be administered internally.