Drugs A - Z
Tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca)
Generic Name: Nicotiana alata
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Akkue musa, anabasine, Brazilian tree tobacco, buena moza, California tree tobacco, cestrum, chlorinated amides, coneton, corneton, cotinine, coyote tobacco, don juan, gandul, gigante, glycosylated cyclohexenone derivatives, isil pivat, jantwak, le tabaque glauque, mahasatpurush, maria-juana, masseyss, Mexican tobacco, mustard tree, myosmine, Nicotiana arborea, nicotine, nornicotine, palau pazau, punche, quercitin, (R)-anabasine, rape, rutin, (S)-anabasine, San Juan tree, satpurush, scopoletin, scopolin, Solanaceae (family), taba, tabaco Cimarron, tabaco moro, tobacco plant, tree tobacco, triacontanol, vitamin D3, wildetabak, wild tobacco, wild tree tobacco, yellow tree tobacco.
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.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: 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.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: 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.
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.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
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
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.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): James David Adams, Jr., PhD (USC School of Pharmacy); Jessica Clubb, PharmD (Northeastern University); Antoinette Edmondson, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Juliann Goodfriend, PharmD (Northeastern University); Toni Schaeffer, PhD, PharmD (Albany College of Pharmacy); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Backheet EY, Sayed HM. Two new chlorinated amides from Nicotiana glauca R. Graham. Pharmazie 2002;57(3):206-208.
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.
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.
Maier W, Schmidt J, Nimtz M, et al. Secondary products in mycorrhizal roots of tobacco and tomato. Phytochemistry 2000;54(5):473-479.
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.
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.
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.
Plumlee KH, Holstege DM, Blanchard PC, et al. Nicotiana glauca toxicosis of cattle. J Vet.Diagn.Invest 1993;5(3):498-499.
Sims DN, James R, Christensen T. Another death due to ingestion of Nicotiana glauca. J Forensic Sci 1999;44(2):447-449.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.