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Updated 18 February 2013

Tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca)

Tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca) comes from Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia and is now a common plant in California. Tree tobacco should not be confused with smoking tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). It is on the list of toxic plants in several states, including Texas, California, and North Carolina. Native Americans in some areas substitute it for native tobacco. To enhance the spiritual experience, tree tobacco is sometimes smoked by California Native Americans in combination with Datura wrightii, which may be dangerous as both plants induce respiratory depression.

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BACKGROUND

Tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca) comes from Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia and is now a common plant in California. Tree tobacco should not be confused with smoking tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). It is on the list of toxic plants in several states, including Texas, California, and North Carolina. Native Americans in some areas substitute it for native tobacco. To enhance the spiritual experience, tree tobacco is sometimes smoked by California Native Americans in combination with Datura wrightii, which may be dangerous as both plants induce respiratory depression.

Tree tobacco has been publicized as a safe, hallucinogenic plant on some internet websites. However, smoking or ingesting the plant has lead to death.

There is insufficient evidence in humans to support the use of tree tobacco for any indication.

EVIDENCE TABLE

Conditions

Uses
disclaimer: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Grade*

*Key to grades: A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).

TRADITION

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below. Anti-inflammatory, antipyretic (fever reducer), boils, headaches, insect repellent, insecticide, smoking (during healing ceremonies), sunstroke, toothache, wounds.

DOSING

disclaimer: The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for tree tobacco. Traditionally, five or fewer fresh tree tobacco leaves have been used to induce hallucination (sacred dreams) or as an emetic (induces vomiting). For lice, a handful of chopped leaves steeped for an hour in a gallon of water, filtered, and sprayed on the skin has been used.

Children (younger than 18 years):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for tree tobacco, and use in children is not recommended.

SAFETY

disclaimer: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to tree tobacco.

Side Effects and Warnings

Based on historical use and published accounts, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, and respiratory depression are common problems with high doses of ingested tree tobacco. Vomiting occurs in almost every person who ingests high doses of the plant and can be severe and lethal. Death from seizures or respiratory depression is less common. Hallucinations from ingestion of high doses are common and may last for several hours. Tree tobacco may also cause asystolia (cessation of heartbeat), alter corticosteroid metabolism, or cause neuromuscular weakness.

Tree tobacco is likely unsafe when used internally at any dose for any duration for smoking, as a hallucinogen, by women of childbearing age, or by patients with nausea or vomiting, respiratory depression, seizure disorders, mental health issues, or cardiovascular disorders.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Tree tobacco is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women. Although not well studied, tree tobacco may cause birth defects.

INTERACTIONS

disclaimer: Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

Tree tobacco may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood, and may cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. If you are using any medications, check the package insert and speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist about possible interactions.

Based on historical use and case reports, tree tobacco, like excessive cholinergic stimulation, may result in respiratory depression, seizures, and hallucinations. Caution is advised when combining with other medications with cholinergic effects.

Based on a case report, tree tobacco may cause asystolia (cessation of heartbeat). Caution is advised in patients taking digoxin.

Tree tobacco contains nicotine alkaloids that have additive effects with nicotine from tobacco. Use of tobacco and tree tobacco may lead to nausea, respiratory depression, hallucinations, seizures, and other conditions.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Tree tobacco may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.

Based on historical use and case reports, tree tobacco, like excessive cholinergic stimulation, may result in respiratory depression, seizures, and hallucinations. Caution is advised when combining with other herbs and supplements with cholinergic effects.

Concurrent use of tree tobacco and Datura wrightii may cause respiratory depression. Patients taking respiratory depressants should use cautiously. Tree tobacco may also induce hallucinations. Caution is advised.

Based on a case report, tree tobacco may cause asystolia (cessation of heartbeat). Caution is advised in patients taking cardiac glycoside-containing herbs, such as foxglove.

Tree tobacco may cause seizures. Consult a qualified healthcare professional when taking herbs and supplements that induce or prevent seizures.

ATTRIBUTION

This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

  • Backheet EY, Sayed HM. Two new chlorinated amides from Nicotiana glauca R. Graham. Pharmazie 2002;57(3):206-208. View abstract
  • Janakat S, Al Merie H. Evaluation of hepatoprotective effect of Pistacia lentiscus, Phillyrea latifolia and Nicotiana glauca. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002;83(1-2):135-138. View abstract
  • Lee ST, Wildeboer K, Panter KE, et al. Relative toxicities and neuromuscular nicotinic receptor agonistic potencies of anabasine enantiomers and anabaseine. Neurotoxicol.Teratol. 2006;28(2):220-228. View abstract
  • Maier W, Schmidt J, Nimtz M, et al. Secondary products in mycorrhizal roots of tobacco and tomato. Phytochemistry 2000;54(5):473-479. View abstract
  • Mellick LB, Makowski T, Mellick GA, et al. Neuromuscular blockade after ingestion of tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca). Ann Emerg.Med 1999;34(1):101-104. View abstract
  • Mizrachi N, Levy S, Goren ZQ. Fatal poisoning from Nicotiana glauca leaves: identification of anabasine by gas-chromatography/mass spectrometry. J Forensic Sci 2000;45(3):736-741. View abstract
  • Panter KE, Weinzweig J, Gardner DR, et al. Comparison of cleft palate induction by Nicotiana glauca in goats and sheep. Teratology 2000;61(3):203-210. View abstract
  • Plumlee KH, Holstege DM, Blanchard PC, et al. Nicotiana glauca toxicosis of cattle. J Vet.Diagn.Invest 1993;5(3):498-499. View abstract
  • Sims DN, James R, Christensen T. Another death due to ingestion of Nicotiana glauca. J Forensic Sci 1999;44(2):447-449. View abstract
  • Skliar M, Curino A, Milanesi L, et al. Nicotiana glauca: another plant species containing vitamin D(3) metabolites. PLANT SCIENCE 7-28-2000;156(2):193-199. View abstract
  • Steenkamp PA, van Heerden FR, van Wyk BE. Accidental fatal poisoning by Nicotiana glauca: identification of anabasine by high performance liquid chromatography/photodiode array/mass spectrometry. Forensic Sci Int 7-17-2002;127(3):208-217. View abstract
  • Waka M, Hopkins RJ, Curtis C. Ethnobotanical survey and testing of plants traditionally used against hematophagous insects in Eritrea. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;95(1):95-101. View abstract
  • Weinzweig J, Panter KE, Pantaloni M, et al. The fetal cleft palate: I. Characterization of a congenital model. Plast.Reconstr.Surg 1999;103(2):419-428. View abstract
  • Weinzweig J, Panter KE, Pantaloni M, et al. The fetal cleft palate: II. Scarless healing after in utero repair of a congenital model. Plast.Reconstr.Surg 1999;104(5):1356-1364. View abstract
  • Weinzweig J, Panter KE, Spangenberger A, et al. The fetal cleft palate: III. Ultrastructural and functional analysis of palatal development following in utero repair of the congenital model. Plast.Reconstr.Surg 2002;109(7):2355-2362. View abstract
disclaimer: Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions. disclaimer: While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy. disclaimer: The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)



Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
 
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