Herb: Tobacco


Latin name: Nicotiana tabacum


Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)



Medicinal use of Tobacco:

Tobacco has a long history of use by medical herbalists as a relaxant, though since it is a highly additive drug it is seldom employed internally or externally at present. The leaves are antispasmodic, discutient, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, irritant, narcotic, sedative and sialagogue. They are used externally in the treatment of rheumatic swelling, skin diseases and scorpion stings. The plant should be used with great caution, when taken internally it is an addictive narcotic. The active ingredients can also be absorbed through the skin. Wet tobacco leaves can be applied to stings in order to relieve the pain. They are also a certain cure for painful piles. A homeopathic remedy is made from the dried leaves. It is used in the treatment of nausea and travel sickness.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Annual


Height:
120 cm
(4 feet)

Flovering:
July to
September


Scent:
Scented
Annual

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Edible parts of Tobacco:

A protein can be extracted from the leaves. It is an odourless, tasteless white powder and can be added to cereal grains, vegetables, soft drinks and other foods. It can be whipped like egg whites, liquefied or gelled and can take on the flavour and texture of a variety of foods. It is 99.5% protein, contains no salt, fat or cholesterol. It is currently (1991) being tested as a low calorie substitute for mayonnaise and whipped cream.

Other uses of the herb:

All parts of the plant contain nicotine, this has been extracted and used as an insecticide. The dried leaves can also be used, they remain effective for 6 months after drying. The juice of the leaves can be rubbed on the body as an insect repellent. The leaves have been dried and chewed as an intoxicant. The dried leaves are also used as snuff or smoked. This is the main species that is used to make cigarettes and cigars. A drying oil is obtained from the seed.

Propagation of Tobacco:

Seed - surface sow in a warm greenhouse about 10 weeks before the last expected spring frosts. The seed usually germinates in 10 - 20 days at 20C. Keep the soil moist and pot up as soon as the plants are big enough to handle, planting them out after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Known hazards of Nicotiana tabacum:

All parts of the plant are poisonous. They contain a volatile oil called nicotine, this is a virulent poison that produces nausea, vomiting, sweating, palpitations and nausea.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.