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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Alkaloids

It consists of dried leaves of Nicotiana tobaccum, belonging to family Solanaceae.






Tobacco, Tabaci Folia.


Biological Source


It consists of dried leaves of Nicotiana tobaccum, belonging to family Solanaceae.


Geographical Source


It is mainly found in India, United States, China, Brazil, Russia, Turkey and Italy.




The genus derives its name from Joan Nicot, a Portuguese who introduced the Tobacco plant into France. The specific name being derived from the Haitian word for the pipe in which the herb is smoked.


Cultivation and Collection


Cultivation is done by sowing seeds. Warm climate and well drained fertile land is required for good growth. Transplantation is done when the seedlings are 12 weeks old. Flowering tops are cut in order to enhance growth of foliage. After 70–90 days of transplantation leaves are collected.




                        Nicotiana tobaccum 

Chemical Constituents


The most important constituent is the alkaloids nicotine, nicotianin, nicotinine, nicoteine, nicoteline. After leaves are smoked the nicotine decomposes into pyridine, furfurol, collidine, hydrocyanic acid, carbon monoxide, etc. The poisonous effects of Tobacco smoke are due to these substances of decomposed nicotine.




Nicotine is very like coniine and lobeline in its pharmacological action, and the pyridines in the smoke modify very slightly its action. It is used as a sedative, diuretic, expectorant, discutient and sialagogue. The leaves in combination with the leaves of belladonna or stramonium make an excellent application for obstinate ulcers, painful tremors and spasmodic affections. Tobacco leaves are made wet and applied for piles. Externally nicotine is an antiseptic. Nicotine exerts stimulant effects on heart and nervous system.

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