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The focus on the tobacco plant in recent years has had a tendency to give this beautiful plant a bad name. But cigarette smoking is not the only use for tobacco and it will surprise many people to know that there are beneficial uses for this plant.
For centuries the tobacco plant has been revered in many different ways. Discovered in the western hemisphere in pre-columbian times this plant reached Spain and Portugal around the 16th century. Tobacco has been used by many Native American Tribes as a ceremonial aid and to show respect for the taking of any life form. There is evidence that tobacco has been used since around the 17th century in various types of poultice for drawing out infections and poisons. When mixed with a small amount of spittle and applied to stings, tobacco is said to stop the pain and relieve swelling.
More recently, a study has shown that the chemicals in tobacco may be a factor in preventing Parkinson disease. This study, done on lab rats, has shown that the tobacco compound is a derivative of naphthoquinone. Naphthoquinone works by interfering with an enzyme of the brain that breaks down neurotransmitters. This study was done when it was noted that fewer tobacco smokers have incidents of contracting Parkinson disease.