First, since we are going to discuss tobacco in this article, let me start with what I’m talking about. I am talking about real, organic, additive-free tobacco, the kind you need to do a bit of searching for. I am NOT talking about the chemical-laden cigarettes that are available all around us. The two are about as comparable health-wise as farmer’s market fruits & veg versus Monsanto’s ?plant products.? In a similar vein to Monsanto twisting words (and arms) to sell us things like GMOs, the ?dirty tobacco? industry’s intentional deceit of the public is put together very nicely here:? Tobacco Explained: The truth about the tobacco industry…in its own words.? If you want to talk about your health issues from standard, extra-toxic cigarettes in the comments, just know ahead of time that those are exactly what I am NOT referring to!
You may have been led to believe that tobacco in ALL its forms is bad and should be done away with entirely. This is the conventional stance. If you didn’t already know, you’re on the wrong website if you’re looking for blind adherence to convention! As one who has researched and written extensively about the nightshade/Solanaceae foods and their potentially negative mechanisms on human health, it was quite a jump for me to be open to a different stance on tobacco (a nightshade plant that I had previous negative reactions to, just like all the other ones). While I used to be quite nightshade sensitive myself, through doing metabolism-boosting practices (involving a combination of things I have implemented from Matt Stone, Danny Roddy, and my own conclusions, some of which are alluded to in my article linked above), I can eat nightshades now without flaring up my chronic mid-back pain. Maybe that can be a future article, who knows?
That said, having the education and training that I’ve had in subjects like botanical medicine (fancy term for herbal medicine) and homeopathy, I’m OK with the idea that there’s a time and place for certain medicines, even ‘toxic? ones. Also familiarizing oneself with the concept of hormesis can make it easier to grasp the concept that certain foods or medicines may be helpful in small/acute doses yet bad in larger/chronic doses.
Moving on to the ?plague.? Maybe you’re aware that as of this writing, there are two bad-ass viruses emerging in other parts of the world, maybe you aren’t. One is a new so-called H7N9 ?bird flu? in China?132 infected,?37 dead, fatality rate 28%, and has already developed resistance to Tamiflu. Next, and more concerning according to the World Health Organization is the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus (recently renamed the novel Coronavirus, or nCoV to its close friends)?54?infected,?31 dead, fatality rate 57%, and has now possibly spread to the US.
Maybe this freaks you out, maybe you think I’m just fear-mongering. Maybe you’re glad I’m making you aware of it when the major news networks are mostly ignoring it. All are valid. Now that I’ve made you aware of it, let’s move on to an oft-disparaged herb that was found very useful against a previous plague’tobacco! My favorite method to ascertain whether or not something is likely to work is to look for historical usage, then look for more scientific research. Could this be true for tobacco in regards to viruses and ?plagues??? Let’s see?
One ?plague? of note that we’ll cover was the Great Plague of London, which occurred from 1665 ? 1666, killing roughly 100,000 people at an estimated 40% death rate. Maybe you believe the standard bubonic plague vector story?I don’t, I believe it was viral. Either way, tobacco was believed to be a preventative!
Let’s start with John Hayward, a man who spent lots of time around plague-infected people and dead bodies during the Great Plague:?
“This brings these two men to a further remembrance. The name of one was John Hayward, who was at that time undersexton of the parish of St Stephen, Coleman Street. By undersexton was understood at that time gravedigger and bearer of the dead. This man carried, or assisted to carry, all the dead to their graves which were buried in that large parish, and who were carried in form; and after that form of burying was stopped, went with the dead-cart and the bell to fetch the dead bodies from the houses where they lay, and fetched many of them out of the chambers and houses; for the parish was, and is still, remarkable particularly, above all the parishes in London, for a great number of alleys and thoroughfares, very long, into which no carts could come, and where they were obliged to go and fetch the bodies a very long way; which alleys now remain to witness it, such as White’s Alley, Cross Key Court, Swan Alley, Bell Alley, White Horse Alley, and many more. Here they went with a kind of hand-barrow and laid the dead bodies on it, and carried them out to the carts; which work he performed and never had the distemper at all, but lived about twenty years after it, and was sexton of the parish to the time of his death. His wife at the same time was a nurse to infected people, and tended many that died in the parish, being for her honesty recommended by the parish officers; yet she never was infected neither.He never used any preservative against the infection, other than holding garlic and rue in his mouth, and smoking tobacco. This I also had from his own mouth.”?
Considering his wife didn’t smoke, maybe real tobacco second-hand smoke wasn’t so bad for her after all!
From the History Learning Site, ?Cures for the Plague? page:?
“Those employed in the collection of bodies frequently smoked tobacco to avoid catching the plague.”
?For personal disinfections nothing enjoyed such favour as tobacco; the belief in it was widespread, and even children were made to light up a reaf in pipes. Thomas Hearnes remembers one Tom Rogers telling him that when he was a scholar at Eton in the year that the great plague raged, all the boys smoked in school by order, and that he was never whipped so much in his life as he was one morning for not smoking. It was long afterwards a tradition that none who kept a tobacconist shop in London had the plague.
One would guess that remedies for the plague that actually worked for caretakers and dead-body-collectors would be paid attention to, and none ?enjoyed such favour as tobacco.? This would seem important, no?
I get it, historical quotes and anecdotes are nice, but where’s the science, you ask?
Tobacco smoke condensate has been shown to inhibit the following viruses:
- Vaccinia virus (aka smallpox)
- Poliovirus type 2 (aka polio)
- Encephalomyocarditis virus
- Vesicular stomatitis virus
- Reovirus type 2 virus
- Hepatitis C virus (separate study)
It should be noted that the study involving the first 5 viruses was done with pretreatment with the tobacco. This implies one would need to be using the tobacco before they got infected.
Nicotine has been shown to inhibit the following pathogens as well:
- Candida albicans (the dreaded scourge of the alternative health world)
- Escherichia coli
- Klebsiella pneumoniae (can cause?pneumonia)
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Viridans streptococci
- Crytococcus neoformans
It should be noted that the inhibition of the above pathogens was achieved with concentrations that can be achieved in the mouth with chewing tobacco.
These studies indicate that chronic exposure to tobacco smoke does not impair, and in fact may stimulate, the host defenses of the lung, as evaluated by in vivo and in vitro pulmonary alveolar macrophage function.
Enhancing the host defenses of the lung would be a good thing in regards to respiratory viruses, flus, and pneumonias, right?
The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic was theorized to kill a higher number of 20-40 year olds due to a ?cytokine storm.? This is described as a hyper-immune response, with excessive amounts of immune system proteins being released and triggering inflammation and damage. It just so happens that when researchers used ricin (of bioweapon fame) to induce a cytokine storm in mice, giving them nicotine 2 hours later reduced organ damage, delayed mortality, and drastically improved survival rates!
- Tobacco?has a history of being successfully utilized in a plague.
- Tobacco and/or nicotine has been shown to inhibit multiple pathogens.
- Nicotine has been shown to reduce the complications of the ?cytokine storm.”
- There may be multiple other health benefits to tobacco.
Have I started smoking organic roll-your-own tobacco yet?? Not quite. If I see more signs of a pandemic virus spreading across the US anytime soon though, you’ll definitely catch me taking extra breaks and hanging out at the tobacco shops more!