Nicotiana tabacum L.

Nota de alcance (en)


The species is probably introduced from Brazil (BRUCHER 1989, WILBERT 1972), including the Virginia types.

Shrub 90cm, dooryard garden, San Andrés.

Historical background
N. rustica has a much higher nicotine content that N . tabacum and perhaps for this reason was widespread in pre-Columbian times in whole America (BRUCHER 1989). The North American Seneca Indians were growing N. rustica in the region of New York, when the first European settlers arrived.

The species is now cultivated all over the world.

Ethnobotanical and general use

Economical utilization
The plant is a source of nicotine, nicotine sulfate and insecticides. Its major importance however is its use as a narcotic. Dried and fermented leaves are used for manufacture of cigars, cigarettes, as wrapper leaf, binder leaf, filler leaf, for pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and snuff. It is thus closely related to industrialization and valued as a major source of taxes, although it causes cancer of the lungs.

Medical use
Amazonian tribes use tobacco for many curative rituals. A decoction of the leaves is rubbed over sprains and bruises. Fresh leaves are crushed and poulticed over boils and infected wounds. The crushed leaves mixed with palm oil are rubbed into the hair to prevent baldness. Tobacco juice is taken therapeutically for indisposition, chilis and snakebites. A tobacco sniff may be employed medicinally for a variety of illnesses, particularly to treat pulmonary ailments (SCHULTES & RAFFAUF).

Uses: crush leaves, apply to wounds; rub with Vicks VapoRub, place on children's chests for coughs; heat leaves, with fat, press on forehead for headaches. Comerford 119, 16 Nov 1994.

Tooth ache

Leaf: Nicotine tar is used to expel parasitic worms in the skin, such as Dermatobia hominis, and to repel Pulex; leaf for a cholagogue decoction to calm the liver; leaves in a cataplasm for headache; juice of green tobacco for an eyewash. Tobacco is mixed with the stem and leaves of Rhabdadenia biflora to remedy wound of stingray. Smoke of burning leaf is wafted over a strangulated hernia in Surinam.

Leaf and Stem
: Juice from macerated leaves and stems is inhaled as a medication for cold, by the Guyana Patamona. Leaf used in treatment for botfly larvae in NW Guyana.

N. rustica is known as “True tobacco” or “Wild tobacco.” N. tabacum does not occur in nature but is a cultivated plant thought to be a hybrid of three naturally occurring Nicotiana species. Tobacco is included in the Medicinal Plant Garden because historically at one time it was considered to be a “Holy herb” and “God’s remedy” – miraculously useful for healing ulcers, polyps, catarrh, and all sorts of other conditions. Tobacco species originated in tropical and subtropical America, but there is evidence that cultivation of tobacco in North America was established as early as the first century BC. The plant was used for ritual and healing by many Native American tribes. The leaves of tobacco have been applied fresh to heal wounds but more often were dried and then smoked or otherwise inhaled (or blown into the rectum). It is now known that the plant contains nicotine, which binds to acetylcholine receptors and activates several neurochemical pathways. It also contains many other chemicals that are carcinogenic or otherwise toxic to the human body. When Europeans were discovering all sorts of plants from the New World, in 1560 the French ambassador to the Spanish court in Lisbon became particularly interested in tobacco and introduced the seeds and plant to the French court. Tobacco became associated with his name, Jean Nicot de Villemain, resulting in the genus name
It also contains many other chemicals that are carcinogenic or otherwise toxic to the human body.

Part used::


Nota bibliográfica (en)

1) South American medicinal plants : botany, remedial properties, and general use / I. Roth, H. Lindorf. Berlin ; New York : Springer, c2002. -- p. 492.

2) COMERFORD, Simon C. Economic Botany. vol. 50 . -- p. 327 - 336 1996

3) Barret, Bruce Economic Botany vol. 48, nro. 1 .-- p. 8-20 1994

4) Robertt, A., et al.. Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana)/Smithsonian NMNH. cited online: 17-08-2017

5) Hull, Kathleen; Photog. Hull, Meredith /Indiana Medical History Museum: Guide to the Medicinal Plant Garden./ USA: Indiana Medical History Museum. 2010. -- p. 58.

Nicotiana tabacum L.
Término aceptado: 02-Feb-2017