Friday, January 20, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #25: Tobacco Edition

As many of you know by now, I quit smoking yesterday. I'm using the nicotine patch-and-lollipop method, which involves wearing a nicotine patch and eating a lot of lollipops. So far so good.

Progress report:

I've been sneezing a lot. I take it I'm supposed to be coughing more as my lungs cleanse themselves, but I'm not. I've had a couple half-hearted, dry coughs, just for old time's sake.

Everyone told me I'd have a lot of crazy dreams on the nicotine patch, but last night I had the same dream I've been having for the past six weeks, which is that I'm still in France because I missed my flight.

My resting heart rate has dropped from 95 to 60 beats per minute.

I'm going to need more lollipops.

Here are your Fun Friday Facts. I picked tobacco since it's been on my mind, for some reason.

1) Paleontologists from the Meyer-Honninger Paleontology Museum have discovered, in Peru, a block of tobacco dating back to the Pleistocene Era, 2.5 million years ago. Their discovery confirms that tobacco originated in the New World, and would also suggest that its use, and perhaps abuse, have been with us literally forever.

Screw you, tobacco. ~ Kevinbercaw

2) Cultivation of tobacco dates back to at least 5,000 BC. Shamanistic South American cultures used tobacco, and other psychoactive plants, in their spiritual rituals. Among North American natives, tobacco was a popular trade item. People of all ages smoked tobacco during ceremonial rites, and the plant was used medicinally to treat coughs, colds, asthma, ear infections, toothaches and other maladies. Most North American tribes believe tobacco to be sacred, and discourage its abuse. If you abuse tobacco, they believe, it will abuse you back.


3) Tobacco reached Europe inthe early 1500s, and quickly became the basis of a booming industry. Physicians used the plant medicinally. Spanish doctor Nicolas Monardes nailed down 36 medical uses for tobacco in 1571. Monardes listed several diseases for which tobacco was considered an effective treatment – among them, cancer.

Well, there was this episode of House I saw once...

4) Tobacco spread to the Ottoman Empire later that century, where it was also used medicinally. Brieftly thereafter, tobacco's unpleasant side effects, including halitosis, fatigue, dulled senses and dizziness, led to the discontinuation of medical tobacco in the region. By this time, however, tobacco had become a popular recreational drug among citizens of all ages.

5) Wikipedia swears that tobacco smoke enemas were used to resuscitate unconscious patients in the 18th century. When I found this reference near the end of the entry “History of tobacco,” I thought it was a joke. I linked to the entry “Tobacco smoke enema” and found that it was rather long and detailed, so I amended my opinion to “elaborate joke” (hey, some people have a lot of time on their hands). I performed an .edu domain search on Google and, holy sh*t guys, I think they're serious.

They even have a picture of the device.

Apparently, doctors of the time believed that warming and stimulating an unconscious patient could revive them. This was accomplished by rubbing the patient's skin briskly, feeding them hot liquor, bleeding them (of course), applying hot plasters and warming the bowels by blowing smoke up the ass. Artificial respiration was also sometimes used, but the tobacco smoke enema was considered more effective. And I still don't know whether to believe this or not.