The princesse of physical plants

These snippets come from an enthusiastic early 17th century pamphlet on the merits of tobacco. Not only is tobacco enjoyable to smoke, but, according to the author, it cures everything from the gout to the clap. Disclaimer: These are antiquated medical claims. Don’t try at home (especially blowing smoke beneath a hormonal woman).

The finest Tobacco is that which pearceth quickly the odorat with a sharpe aromaticke smell, and tickleth the tongue with acrimonie, not unpleasant to the taste, whether the substance of it be chewed in the mouth, or the smoake of it received.  For the cure and preservation of an armie of maladies, Tobacco  must be used after this manner. Take of leafe Tobacco as much as, being folded together, may make a round ball of such bignesse that it may fill the patients mouth. Incline his face downward towards the ground, keeping the mouth open, not moving any whit with his tongue, except now and then to waken the medicament. There shall flow such a flood of water from his brain and his stomacke, and from all the parts of his body that it shall be a wonder. This he must do fasting in the morning, and if it be for preservation, and the bodie very full of evil humours, he must take it once a weeke, otherwise once a month. But if it bee to cure the Epilepsie or Hydropisie once every day.  Thus have I used Tobacco  my selfe, and thus used Tobacco Jean Greis, a venerable old man at Nantes in the French Britain, who lived while he was six score yeares of age, and who was known for the only refuge of the poore afflicted souldiers of Venus when they were wounded with the French Pockes.

If the mother [menstruation] vexe and torment a woman, the smoake of Tobacco either above or under, shall ease her more than feathers or leather.  If thou be pepsicke, if thou be asthmaticke, if thou be urged to cough through defluxion, the smoake of Tobacco is better then tussilago [coltsfoot]. If the rage of toothache excarnificate the gummes, Tobacco  is better then Insquiam [?]. If there be sounding in the eares, it is fitter than cinabre [a mineral].  I add further, that amongst so many thousands which use & abuse Tobacco at all occasions without observation of any physicall precept, there are very few found that can ascribe their death to Tobacco. So that if Tobacco were used physically and with discretion there were no medicament in the worlde comparable to it.

The Arthritis or gowt are prevented prettily. It preserveth from the toothach. It cureth the migrain, the colicke, the cough, the cold. It stayeth growing fatte. It is the antidote of Hypochondriacke melancholie. It prepareth the stomacke for meat, it maketh a clear voice, it maketh a sweet breath, it cleareth the sight, it openeth the eares and openeth the passage of the nose. It comforteth nerves, and taken in siruppe there is no obstruction that can abide it. It is present reliefe against the most part of poysons. And in few words, it is the princesse of physical plants.  To conclude this discourse I must excuse here my plainnesse and simplicitie with this caveat,  that albeit the never too much commended Tobacco bee of sufficiencie to cure many diseases, yet it is not of efficacie in all persons, in all seasons, in all temperaments, but it must be used by the direction of some expert and prudent Physician.

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