Tobacco: The Dry Inebriant Case Study

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Tobacco, may be the world’s largest commodity. It is popular worldwide regardless of the detrimental effects on one’s health. The cash crop from the New World, traveled across the Atlantic to Europe and Asia. The time that tobacco was introduced in these places is crucial to understanding its foothold in society. “Tobacco: The Dry Inebriant” by Wolfgang Schivelbusch traces the evolution of tobacco in Europe. Carol Benedict’s piece, “Golden-Silk Smoke”, discusses the introduction and history of tobacco in China from 1550 to 2010. The experiences between the two regions share some aspects and greatly differ in others. Tobacco altered society, in Europe, tobacco was seen as a luxury item whereas in China it served more of a medicinal purpose. …show more content…
The timing was ideal, during this time, China was open to the ideas of new medicines and innovations. Tobacco was added to the Chinese Materia Medica once Ming physicians believed it could help address the unprecedented challenges of the new age. “The greater geographic and social mobility that accompanied the profound social and economic changes under way- commercialization of the economy intensified urbanization, and expansion of interregional and overseas trade- also increased the danger that communicable diseases might diffuse more widely” (Benedict). Tobacco was used as a medicine because of it being recognized as a drying agent, it’s warm smoke drained the body of fluids. Tobacco’s popularity was initiated by this quality. The characteristic of warm and drying are related to the principle of Yang. With the comparison made, it was easier for tobacco to be accepted and circulate. “importance of replenishing organs with yang substances that radiated warmth, in order to replenish the inner fire that fuels the original qi” (Benedict). Some doctors believed that the new lifestyle was depleting yang among elite men, wealth in one place means poverty in another. “The basic nature of tobacco, as an herb that ascended upward and outward to protect heat, was pure yang” (Benedict). The medical practices using tobacco focused on the stomach and spleen. It was used as a treatment for numerous alignments, “tobacco had the power to aid digestion, to disperse fullness after eating, to arrest the violent vomiting of huoluan, and even to eliminate innate intestinal parasites” (Benedict). Doctors were aware of the benefits of tobacco use as well as the repercussions, they noted the dangers associated with long- term use. “Although the term “addiction” was not yet part of Chinese medical thinking, they noted tobacco’s powerful

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