Origin and Brief History of Nicotine

Written by on March 2, 2021 in Stuff with 0 Comments

Tobacco is the product obtained from the leaves of the Nicotiana tabacum plant, an herbaceous and perennial plant, of the Solanaceae family. This product has been used throughout history in a snuffed form (snuff), licked (paste tobacco), smoked (smoke tobacco) or chewed (leaf tobacco).

The Nicotiana Tabacum plant is believed to have reached the Caribbean 3,000 years before Christ. The Aztecs used tobacco as an antidote to a snake’s venom. It also had great importance in ceremonial and religious rituals.

At present we can find alternatives for the beneficial use of the effects of nicotine to counteract some ailments of people, without the harmful effects of it, since they do not present the negative respiratory side effects that may affect our lungs. One of these alternatives are the pouches known as Nicopods. You can safely find more information on the Killapods website.

How did tobacco get to Europe?

Europeans discovered this plant in the New World, so it seems that its “discovery” was in 1492. However, tobacco and a plant originating from nicotine was the most widespread crop in the entire American continent long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.

There were tobacco crops from North America to South America. These crops were also used in their different forms: smoked, chewed and sniffed. Tobacco cultivation had a great concentration point in the Amazon area. From there it passed to the Orinoco groups (southern Venezuela), from there a native tribe, known as the Arawaks brought tobacco cultivation to the Caribbean islands.

In these islands, another tribe, the group of Tainos, native from the island of Santo Domingo, were the first to domesticate the use of tobacco.

First documented study of tobacco and nicotine in history

According to Francisco Hernández de Bóncalo, Felipe II's court physician, he was sent to study the different tobacco plants of the New World and especially those that had a medicinal profile or at least some therapeutic properties. Hernández de Bóncalo remained there for almost 7 years and wrote a good number of volumes (possibly 17) that were lost when they were devoured by flames in the fire of the Monastery of El Escorial in 1671.

We only know part of his work thanks to two providential works: a compendium published in 1625 that Felipe II entrusted to another doctor of the Court, the Neapolitan Nardo Antonio Rechi: Rerum Medicarum Novae Hispaniae and another more extensive work that was published in 1615 by Francisco Jimenez. Both describe the therapeutic properties of tobacco in the treatment of various diseases, for example asthma.

This is how this new custom, originating from the indigenous tribes that inhabited America before colonization occurred, passed to Europe.

Final words

As has been described in this article, the history of the origins of tobacco and its generating plant, nicotine, has a long history that has been lost since pro-Columbian times in America, which if it is certain, that the first colonizers who arrived with Columbus They were the ones who transmitted the use of tobacco to the old continent.

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