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It Ain’t Just For Smoking: Known But Beneficial Uses For Tobacco

Over the course of centuries, tobacco was hailed for it’s medicinal uses and cures. But in today’s world, the tobacco plant has a really bad reputation. But it has more uses than just for smoking and chewing. In fact, any person who is planning for a long term emergency situation should have a stock of tobacco, not only for it’s bartering potential, but also for it’s assistance in gardens, as well as for it’s medicinal purposes.

For centuries, tobacco was hailed for its myriad of uses and medical cures. However, its modern day standing leaves a lot to be desired.

Despite this plant’s modern day reputation for causing long term ailments, tobacco leaves should be considered an ideal plant for homeopathic practices, self-reliant living as well as a great bartering item for a long term emergency.

Consider the following beneficial uses for tobacco.


Tobacco is a great insect repellent for the kitchen garden.  By simply soaking as little as a cigarette amount of tobacco in a quart of water and allowing it to soak overnight, the nicotine released in the water will create an all purpose insect repellent.

Aphid Control – Aphids are a real nuisance if allowed to thrive on garden plants.  Here’s a handy tip to rid your garden of them for good!

  •  Prepare a mixture of 1 cup. powdered garlic
  • 1 c. compost
  • 1 c. tobacco (organic preferably)

Blend this mixture into the soil around the base of your aphid infested plants.

Peach Tree Borers – Sprinkling tobacco dust around peach trees will deter the dreaded peach tree borer from infesting your tree.

Leaf Roller – These greenish larvae make a home out of perfectly good leaves.  They can destroy plants of all kinds in a matter of weeks!  I have created an offering plate for birds every morning of these caterpillars.  But to easily rid your garden of them:

Use a mixture of tobacco dust, pyrethrum powder (dried pyrethrum flowers crumbled into a powder) and make a solution to spray on the leaf roller.

Garden Centipede – These litter guys will eat your young plants up in no time, so get rid of them with this simple solution:

Drench the soil with a mixture of water, garlic and tobacco. Caution: This is a very foul smelling, but potent combination.

Gophers and Moles – Did you know that gophers and moles hate tobacco?

Shred a package of non-filtered cigarettes and drop it down in the hole.  They cannot stand it!

Spiders – Although garden spiders are always welcome in my garden, it’s cousins are not allowed!  To rid your yard of spiders:

Boil 1 gallon of water and drop a package of chewing tobacco into the water and allow to cool.

Once cooled, strain the solution and use it as a spray around the yard and in the cracks of your home.

Medicinal Use

Indians used tobacco as a pain reliever for ear aches, toothaches and as a poultice.  The leaves of  N. attenuata variety were mainly used for  the medical purposes.  In fact, currently there are test studies being performed to find a way to extract the pain relieving components of tobacco and remove the addictive ones to use for medical purposes. Note that the medical profession will not allow nicotine to be a treatment for medical issues or mental illnesses due to to the health risks; but they are studying the benefits of tobacco nonetheless.

To make a poultice, crush the leaves to place on the affected area to relieve medical issues.

Skin Rashes, Eczema and rheumatism – Indians used a poultice of tobacco leaves to put on skin inflammations to help soothe and relieve pain.  Although there is documented accounts that tobacco has pain relieving qualities, this author could not find any information on how tobacco soothed skin inflammation.

Toothaches – This poultice could also be placed in the mouth to alleviate pain from toothaches.

Rattlesnake and Insect Bites – Indians believed that the nicotine in the tobacco would help relieve pain as well as help draw out the poison and heal the snake wound.  After the poison had been sucked out, chewed leaves could be applied to cuts or bound on the bite with a bandage.  This method can also be used when stung by an insect.

 Colds – Indians would mix tobacco and leaves from the Desert Sage plant, or the root of Indian Balsam (or cough root), Leptotaenia Multifida.  They believed this would also help with asthma and tuberculosis.  They typically smoked the leaves to clear out nasal passages.

Toothpaste – In India, powdered tobacco is rubbed on the teeth for cleaning.  This method is still used in India and marketed in stores around the country.

Mental Illness

Although people with mental illness are twice as likely to smoke, there may be some benefits to their habit.  That being said, the medical profession does see some benefit to mentally ill patients using nicotine.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, those that suffer from mental disorders such as ADHD/ADD, schizophrenia and other disorders may experience positive effects from smoking.  Apparently, doses of nicotine have a short term normalization effect on the EEG (electrical activity in the brain).

Alzheimer and Dementia– Those that suffer from Alzheimer’s can also benefit from doses of nicotine.  According to studies, patients cognitive abilities slightly improved.


Sources For This Article:

Evil Weed May Benefit Rare Disorders

Early Uses of Indian Tobacco in California

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on August 27th, 2010