A Miraculous Plant Of The Tobacco Plant Essay

1688 Words Dec 11th, 2015 7 Pages
A Miraculous Plant
The tobacco cigarette in its modern form is so ubiquitous, so seemingly organic, that it is hard to imagine a world without it. However, throughout the course of human existence, the tobacco plant was relatively unknown and unused. In fact, the tobacco plant, Nicotiana tabacum, was only indigenous to central and south America, and was initially harvested for ceremonial or medicinal practices(1). The earliest evidence for the use of tobacco in the Americas dates back to around 100 BCE. By the time Christopher Columbus set foot in the West Indies CE 1492, tobacco had been used in the New World for at least 1400 years, a practice entirely foreign to the would be European assailants. Columbus and his men would take up the practice of smoking hand rolled cigars or chewing dried tobacco leaves, gifts they received as they traveled island-to-island throughout the Caribbean. The new habit of smoking cigars and chewing tobacco would eventually be exported back to Europe(2).
By 1556, the tobacco plant came to shore in France, where its popularity was spurred by reports of its healing powers. In 1571, a popular Spanish physician, Nicolas Monardes, promoted tobacco as a New World plant capable of curing at least 20 diseases. Juan de Cardenas, a protégé of Monardes, referred to tobacco as a “holy herb” that was needed “not only for the sick, but for the healthy”(3). Jean Nicot, a French diplomat working in Lisbon, became so enamored with tobacco that he sent tobacco…

Related Documents