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Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 2,3,6-Trimethyl-1,4-naphthoquinone, 2-methylquinone, 2-naphthylamine, acrolein, albumen, aldehydes, anabasine, anatabine, anatalline, anethole, anthalin, areca nut, arghile, aromatic hydrocarbons, beta-naphthylamine, benzo[a]pyrene, betel quid, bidi, carbon monoxide, catechols, cembrene, chewing tobacco, choline, cigar, cigarette, collidine, fatty acids, furfurol, goza, gum, harman, hookah, hubble bubble, hydrocyanic acid, ketones, latakria, narghile, narkeela, nicotelline, Nicotiana fruticosa, Nicotiana latissima, Nicotiana multivulvis, Nicotiana persica, Nicotiana quadrivalis, Nicotiana repandu, Nicotiana rustica, nicotianin, nicotine, nicotinine, nitric oxide, nitrosamines, norharman, organic acids, orinoco, paraffins, paraphenols, Persian tobacco, phenolic compounds, phenols, pipe, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), propionic acid, pyrene, pyridine, resin, shisha, smokeless tobacco, snuff, tabacine, tabacinine, tannins, toombak (Sudan), Turkish tobacco, water pipe, waxes.
  • Note: Smoking cessation is not comprehensively addressed in this monograph. There is a separate Natural Standard Bottom Line monograph on smoking cessation. Nicotine-only supplementation is not covered comprehensively in this monograph. These products are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not considered dietary supplements.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Nicotiana tabacum is the species of tobacco plant that is most commonly used to produce commercially available tobacco products. It is native to South America. Nicotiana tabacum (called Latakria tobacco in Cuba) is believed to be a hybrid of Nicotiana sylvestris, Nicotiana tomentosiformis, and possibly Nicotiana otophora. Other species of tobacco include Nicotiana rustica (Turkish tobacco), Nicotiana quadrivalis (used by Native Americans), Nicotiana fruticosa (grown in China), Nicotiana persica (Persian tobacco), Nicotiana repandu (grown in Central and southern North America), Nicotiana latissima (also called orinoco), and Nicotiana multivulvis.
  • The genus name, Nicotiana, is named for Jean Nicot de Villemain from Portugal, who introduced the tobacco plant to France. The species name, tabacum, is derived from the Haitian word for tobacco pipe. In the United States, most tobacco is cultivated in Virginia. The plant also grows in most subtropical countries and also in China, Turkey, Greece, Holland, France, and Germany.
  • Tobacco leaves are the source of smoking and chewing tobacco. The concentration of nicotine increases with the age of the plant. Tobacco leaves contain 2-8% nicotine. The distribution of the nicotine in the mature plant is approximately 64% in the leaves, 18% in the stem, 13% in the root, and 5% in the flowers. After the harvest, the leaves are cured (dried), and then the leaf midribs and larger veins are discarded.
  • Various forms of tobacco (leaf, juice, extract) have been used in folk medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including stress, asthma, rheumatism, skin diseases, hemorrhoids, scorpion stings, and nausea, and as an antiseptic and diuretic. However, it is generally accepted that the dangers associated with tobacco addiction outweigh any health benefits (1). Nearly one-third of those who try a cigarette become addicted to nicotine (2). It has been estimated that 900,000 persons become addicted to smoking each year in the United States. Despite the negative health consequences of smoking, 23% of adult men and 18% of adult women in the United States use tobacco regularly (3).
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Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.