Generally tobacco use is considered harmful, but there are cases where it can help certain conditions. Tobacco can be used to treat insect stings and bites, and can also be used to reduce blood pressure. It can also relax the muscles in the digestive tract, aiding with constipation.
The medicinal parts are the dried leaves.
Flower and Fruit
The numerous flowers are in many-branched panicles. The sepals are 12 to 25 mm long and tubular to tubular-campanulate. The tips are triangular, pointed and unequal. The corolla is 30 to 55 mm long, funnel-shaped, pale greenish-cream. The limb is 10 to 15 mm with pointed lobes, which are not always entire. The four stamens are unequal and sometimes slightly exerted. The capsule is 15 to 20 mm long, ellipsoid to globose.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
Tobacco is an annual or biennial plant, 1 to 3 m in height. The plant has a long fibrous root and an upright, round, pubescent and stick stem, which is heavily branched at the top. The leaves are up to 50 cm in length. They are ovate to elliptical or lanceolate, pointed, alternate, and sessile. They sometimes have a short, winged petiole.
The plant originates from tropical America and is cultivated worldwide, in particular in the U.S., China, Turkey, Greece, Holland, France, Germany, and most subtropical countries.
Tobacco leaves are the cultivated, unfermented leaves of Nicotiana tabacum.
Actions & Pharmacology
Pyridine alkaloids (0.5-8.0%, among select cultivars 1.5%): chief alkaloid nicotine (30-60% share of the alkaloid mixture) including among others N-formyl nor-nicotine, cotinine, myosmine, nicotyrine, anabasine, nicotelline
In small doses, Tobacco increases blood pressure and the activity of the gastric mucous membrane. In larger doses, it reduces blood pressure and lowers muscle tone of the gastrointestinal tract. Tobacco is a stimulant to the respiratory and central nervous system.
Indications & Usage
Nicotine is used to help break the smoking habit.
Apache Indians use the drug to treat toothache, mosquito bites, and bee stings. In Brazil and Guyana, Tobacco is used for worm infestation, skin parasites, and biliary flow disturbances. The drug's use in these conditions is not advised because of the risk of toxicity.
Tobacco is used for toothache, dental caries, earache, suppurating rhinitis, hernias, and painful swellings.
Tobacco is used for angina pectoris, low blood pressure and vomiting with diarrhea.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
Tobacco leaves are severely poisonous. The chief toxin is nicotine, a liquid alkaloid, which can be resorbed through the skin.
The lethal dosage for nicotine for an adult is 40 to 100 mg, although this can be considerably elevated through habituation (with smoking Tobacco, 2 to 7 g of the drug; one cigarette contains 10 mg nicotine, of which 1 to 2 mg are inhaled during smoking). Symptoms of an acute poisoning include dizziness, salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, trembling of the hands and feelings of weakness in the legs; very high dosages can lead rapidly to spasms, unconsciousness, cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. Poisonings occur in particular through the ingestion of cigarettes by children, the handling of insecticides containing nicotine (through skin contact), and in connection with the harvesting of Tobacco (also through cutaneous resorption). Nicotine patches also represent a danger for children.
Following gastric lavage with burgundy-colored potassium permanganate solution, instillation of activated charcoal and sodium sulphate solution, the therapy for poisonings consists of treating spasms with diazepam (IV), chloral hydrate for children (rectal); cardiac massage; administration of orciprenaline; and atropine for severe sympathetic excitation. Intubation and oxygen respiration may also be necessary. No centrally effective analeptics are to be given.
Mode of Administration
The nicotine alkaloid is used internally as a gum and externally as a transdermal patch.
Nicorette (chewing gum); also as transdermal patches.
Nicotine as a pure alkaloid in smoker's remedies; nicotine (2 to 4 mg) bound by polacrilin (8 to 16 mg). Nicotine gum is an ion exchanger and therefore causes the slow release of nicotine, which is absorbed in the saliva over and over again. Eventually, the doses are reduced as the breaking of the habit progresses.
5 drops, 1 tablet, or 10 globules every 30 to 60 minutes (acute) or 1 to 3 times daily (chronic); parenterally: 1 to 2 mL sc, acute: 3 times daily; chronic: once a day (HAB1).