Let’s make it abundantly clear that this article is not advocating that anyone rush to buy some organic tobacco upon reading, but rather, more aptly, it’s meant to clear the air and settle some of the overzealous anti-tobacco campaigns that say things like “Make Smoking History” by implying that it should be completely eradicated. So no, someone shouldn’t necessarily start smoking in light of the material laid out here, but this idea that tobacco is literally a useless poison is as much propaganda as Big Tobacco is.
Of course, there are roughly 4,000 naturally occurring chemicals found in the plant of tobacco, and when burned, even smoke from organic tobacco contains trace levels of carcinogens like cyanide, benzene, formaldehyde, methanol, and ammonia and however low the amounts may be, this is an undeniable reason for even a tobacco user to keep it at an arm’s distance. But when considering the ratio of chemicals (seventy of which are known carcinogens) that are inhaled in one puff of organic tobacco, for instance, the levels of these carcinogens balanced in each puff can be empirically demonstrated as minute (roughly one tenth, by this ratio), however prevalent. That being said, before discussing the actual undeniable specified medicinal benefits of both nicotine and the tobacco plant as a whole, it is important to look at Big Tobacco briefly.
The ambiguity between the health benefits of regular and “USDA Organic” tobacco that many anti-tobacco advocates preach, is completely false. Organic tobacco, absolutely does mean a safer cigarette in such an astonishing variety of ways.
Firstly are the strange synthetic chemicals in Big Tobacco like anabasine, nornicontine, anatabine, cotinine, and myosmine to boost nicotine potency and dependency rates, and the number of synthetic chemicals added to Big Tobacco is well over 500 at this point in industry standards, but varies from product to product. Beyond this, is the fact that tobacco has been genetically modified since the 1980’s to withstand large amounts of pesticides and herbicides–so by this standard alone, Big Tobacco means inhaling tobacco tar that also includes pesticides and herbicides like the dreaded chemical glyphosate. Anything without glyphosate as opposed to something with glyphosate is a healthier alternative, relatively speaking. But as if these pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and synthetic chemical boosters were not bad enough, there is the consideration of the unregulated factory-related problems that come with any corporate dispensers: contamination.
The variety of bugs or microorganisms, and the possibility of foreign material for filler, is also present. The bottom line is that while the FDA is by no means any sort of paragon of health, there are a certain amount of standards that are legally and stringently upheld when using certifications like “USDA Organic;” this also involves some hefty fees paid by the dispensers looking to acquire these labels.
Now that the air is a little clearer on these terms, it is obviously quite important to analyze nicotine on its own, since it is essentially the primary chemical in tobacco. Those people who still use the phrase, “Nicotine addiction is nearly as bad as heroin addiction” are merely falling victim to the telephone game, as this example is hard to validate on even a metaphorical level, let alone a literal one. It is a known fact that the intensity and variety of withdrawal symptoms with cigarettes is directly increased by the synthetic additives used by Big Pharma, and so perhaps this is where the case can be made. Certainly Big Pharma tobacco is incredibly difficult to quit, because the physical withdrawals are enhanced by a sizable margin.
In regards to organic tobacco however, the withdrawal symptoms are minute in comparison of Big Tobacco or something like heroin. Indeed, a person will receive a degree of hyperactivity and restless after quitting, but this is the primary extent of the symptoms. In reality, organic tobacco should not be considered many steps up from sugar or caffeine, if any at all (generally speaking). Lastly, nicotine/tobacco dependency does not lead to any sort of brain damage or malformations, and is considered quite a safe chemical to use, and has been found an effective treatment for things like anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity. Even at its worst to endure, physical withdrawals end by a week’s time at most, but this can, of course, be exacerbated by Big Tobacco chemicals.
Discussing nicotine’s use, it has become simple empirical observation of modern science that nicotine is proving to be one of the most effective cognitive enhancement chemicals known today. A meta-analysis conducted by scientists of 41 controlled studies showed that nicotine and smoking tobacco notably increased “six domains: fine motor, alerting attention-accuracy and response time (RT), orienting attention-RT, short-term episodic memory-accuracy, and working memory-RT.” And in light of all this, it is no surprise that tobacco has found its niche as the “working man’s smoke,” whether they be a farmer, construction worker/general laborer, chef, writer, or even a traditional shaman. Nicotine has as well been demonstrated to help prevent neurological disorders like Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease, and even possible effective treatments of these disorders.
A final piece that this consideration would be incomplete without, is the staple that tobacco served to man in the past for its medicinal and shamanic properties. Throughout ancient North and South America, tobacco was widely used recreationally, spiritually and medicinally for a plethora of different reasons. Topical application tobacco salves were common, using this to heal skin rashes and diseases, bites, cuts, burns, et cetera. It was also consumed to alleviate symptoms like fever and anxiety. Spiritually, it is commonly known that tobacco was used ceremonially, but it is less commonly understood as to why this was the case. It was traditionally believed by all who used it that it served as a communication with the spirit realm. Spirits were often literally considered to enjoy tobacco smoke, and thus it was used to attract them. In a more overarching sense tobacco was thought to carry the intentions of the smoker from their brain, all the way into the spiritual realm of fate and causality. In this regard, it was used to induce shamanic trances, and for certain initiations. A wonderfully in-depth historical analysis that is peer-reviewed can be seen here.
So, again, while this isn’t exactly a total advocacy of smoking tobacco, this is a clear message that there are more important health concerns to hound someone besides smoking organic tobacco. A clear problem with the tobacco industry as a whole today can be described as “excess.” Not only are the pre-rolled cigarettes often quite large, but they are often bred to have less nicotine in the strains for taste ratios. Traditional tobacco is often up to ten times as potent (if not stronger) than commercially sold tobacco, and this means an incredibly larger amount of nicotine, with no more carcinogens. Ultimately, what this levels out to is less smoking and more nicotine, which is definitely how any smoker should consider their habit.
The stronger the tobacco, and the less plant matter consumed on an habitual basis, the healthier and more effective the habit is. Smoking a pack of twenty cigarettes a day should not be anyone’s bottom line if they are seeking moderation. Empirically, however, smoking strong and organic tobacco, at maybe around one to three cigarettes a day, can actually be considered to effectively treat anxiety, depression, and ADHD.
In the grand scheme, if a grown man or woman is really struggling with these types of symptoms on a regular basis, then smoking a pack of organic tobacco or two a week is likely to be much healthier than taking Adderall, SSRI’s, benzodiazepines, et cetera, on a daily basis. With these things in mind though, some studies have shown that nicotine is a neurotoxin to adolescent developing young brains–so to all the hooligans out there: definitely try to refrain from smoking before graduating high school.
Although some may argue, this article definitely puts tobacco in the category of “holistic medicines” when grown organically and used properly. And as always, if someone truly feels a medicinal connection to a plant in the form of relief, it is always recommended that they grow their medicine themselves to get the best medicinal quality, moderation, and grow to develop a relationship with the plant that is so generous to you. Tobacco is very easy to grow, and even has a beautiful flower in bloom, and traditional, organic seeds can be found throughout the internet, and often locally as well.
While some of this information may ultimately be confusing, or even astounding to some individuals, it is certainly safe to say that, whoever you are, tobacco is an “acquired taste” that you either love or hate–both emotions with their fair share of reasons.
Sources: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/will-a-nicotine-patch-make-you-smarter-excerpt/, http://bebrainfit.com/nicotine-brain-enhancing-drug/, https://www.mpm.edu/wirp/ICW-166.html, http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/746, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRNkcsk81eU, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nicotiana_species, https://www.questia.com/library/science-and-technology/life-sciences-and-agriculture/agriculture/tobacco-history, https://www.bibliovault.org/BV.book.epl?ISBN=9781592134809, http://www.tobaccoseed.ca/, http://www.alchemy-works.com/, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1079499/