Botanical name: 

Related entry: Tabacum under sedatives

The leaves of Nicotiana tabacum.—U. S.

Therapeutic Action.—Tobacco is described as narcotic, sedative, antispasmonic, emetic, diuretic, laxative, errhine, sialagogue and discutient.

In over-doses it is a powerful acro-narcotic poison. In smaller doses it produces a sensation of heat in the throat and warmth in the stomach, with nausea, diuresis, and sometimes purging. It also quiets restlessness, calms mental and corporeal inquietude, and produces a state of general languor or repose. If applied to the nose, it excites a copious flow of mucus, or if chewed, the flow of saliva is greatly increased. In larger doses it produces extreme nausea and vomiting, purging, great prostration, and other symptoms indicative of its violent acro-narcotic qualities, such as languor, muscular relaxation, trembling of the limbs, faintness, great anxiety, impaired vision, confused intellect, pulse small and feeble, respiration laborious, cold and clammy state of the surface, and in extreme cases convulsions, alarming and even fatal prostration. The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, in some cases purging, relaxation of the muscles and extreme prostration, with great depression in the action of the heart and arteries, manifested by a feeble pulse, paleness of the face, cold sweats, tremors, paralysis, stupor, etc. Its primary action is upon the brain and nervous system, as is manifested by capacity to reduce first the nervous, and secondly the vascular powers. This view of its action is demonstrated by the experiments of Sir B. Brodie, who, after decapitating animals, injected an infusion of tobacco into the rectum, and kept up artificial respiration, and thus sustained the action of the heart and arteries, while an equal quantity of the poison injected into the rectum of a healthy animal, or introduced into the stomach, soon paralyzed the heart and caused death.

It is liable to produce the effects stated, when used to excess, taking it into the stomach, smoking, using it in the form injections, or applying it to the abraded surface. The practice of chewing and smoking, now so common throughout the world, is the most disgusting, filthy, and loathsome of any which the perverted taste of man can become habituated. These vices, so highly relished by many, are quite as obnoxious to others; and if we say nothing about the dyspepsias which they occasion, or the disordered innervation, emaciation, general debility and nervous prostration, with a train of sympathetic derangements which they produce, there is still enough to call loudly for reformation.

Tobacco is a potent agent in spasmodic colic, ileus, strangulated hernia, obstinate constipation from peritoneal inflammation and other causes, employed in the form of enemata. It should be employed very cautiously, at first very small portions being used.

In incarcerated hernia, it is a remedy of great power. The tension of the parts is soon removed, the tumor becoming soft and relaxed. "In colic from lead, and in obstinate constipation from spasmodic constriction, the tobacco clyster has sometimes proved most beneficial."—Pereira.

In dysentery, the tobacco injection is said to afford great relief.—Dr. O'Brien.

In lead colic, compresses, soaked in a decoction of tobacco and applied to the abdomen, have been recommended by Dr. Graves.

In tetanus, the tobacco clyster has often proved valuable, having afforded relief after other means had failed.

In periodical epilepsy, by the application of the tobacco cataplasm to the scrobiculus cordis before the paroxysm, it was prevented. The cataplasm, applied to the throat in spasm of the rima glottidis, gave relief.—Dr. Wood.

In spasmodic asthma, either smoked or taken internally, in nauseating doses, it often affords relief.

As a topical remedy, it is anodyne and sedative, and as such may be used in neuralgia, rheumatism, gout, glandular inflammations and swellings, as the testicles, buboes, scirrhous and scrofulous tumors, erysipelatous inflammations, phimosis and paraphimosis, painful hemorrhoidal affections, etc.

The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 1898, was written by John M. Scudder, M.D.