283: Tobacco, part 2

This is an addendum to my other post on tobacco, and lists some more traditional uses of tobacco in Ozark medicine and magic:

Thrown in river before journey – “I once knew a man near Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who threw little pieces of tobacco into the river whenever he was about to start on a journey…” ~Randolph OMF 59

Used for colic – “When an Ozark child has colic, the mother squeezes a little of her own milk into a teacup. Then she takes a reed pipestem and blows clouds of tobacco smoke into the cup, so that it bubbles up through the milk. When the baby drinks this nicotinized milk it becomes quiet at once and soon falls asleep. Other people treat a ‘colicky’ infant simply by blowing tobacco smoke up under its clothes; I have seen this done several times, and it really did seem to relieve the pain or at least to distract the child’s attention for the moment.” ~Randolph OMF 93

Poultice for abdominal pains – “Tobacco is used in other ways by the yarb doctors and granny-women. I have seen severe abdominal pain, later diagnosed as appendicitis and cured by surgery, apparently relieved at once with a poultice of tobacco leaves soaked in hot water.” ~Randolph OMF 93-94

Poultice for skin issues – “The tobacco poultice is very generally used for cuts, stings, bites, bruises, and even bullet wounds.” ~Randolph OMF 98

Poultice to draw poison out of a boil – “A poultice of tobacco leaves in cold water is often applied to ‘draw the pizen’ out of a boil or a risin’.” ~Randolph OMF 99

“Use chewed up tobacco for a poultice to place on a boil to draw out the core.” ~Parler FBA II 1562

Smoke blown in ear for earache – “Some yarb doctors treat earache simply by blowing tobacco smoke into the ear; if this doesn’t give relief, they blow the smoke into a cup of warm water with a reed or pipestem and put a few drops of this smoke water into the ear at intervals.” ~Randolph OMF 108

“Put a piece of cloth over the bowl of a pipe that has lighted tobacco in it and put the mouthpiece of the pipe in the ear that hurts, then blow on the cloth that’s over the bowl and the smoke will go into the ear and the earache will go away.” ~Parler FBA II 2093

“If a child has the ear ache, blow smoke from a cigarette into his ear, and it will stop his ear ache.” ~Parler FBA II 2095

Native tobacco for colic in horses – “ If youen’s has a horse with the colic bile native tobacker and get the horse to swaller it.” ~Pompey GG

Blown into milk for colic – “Dad always smoked a pipe and we always nursed our babies. He said just take a spoonful of breast milk and blow tobacco smoke in it until it turned kind of blue and give it to ‘em. It was the best remedy he knew for colic.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

For earache – “Blow smoke in it.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

“Grandmother used to smoke a clay pipe. She didn’t smoke it all the time. She’d get her work done, then she’d sit down and smoke it, enjoy it that way. She used to blow smoke in our ears for an earache.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

“My grandma would reverse the pipe. She’d blow in the part where your fire is and let the smoke run into your ear.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Tobacco chew for a bruise – “Got hit right here, top of the foot. That place on the bone started swelling and these boys’ mother, she chewed tobacco, she grabbed that big old chew of tobacco she had in her mouth and stuck it on there and wrapped rags around it there to hold it on. I don’t know whether that done any good or not, but it kept it from getting sore.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Used on a snakebite – “Cut the wound and then suck it. Take a chew of tobacco that would kill the poison in your mouth first and then suck it. You can pull that poison right out.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Used with turpentine or bread and milk to take out a sting – “Tobacco or turpentine and tobacco or bread and milk will pull the poison out.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

For stings – “About the best thing that you can get for a bee sting is a chew of tobacco. Chew up a hunk and slap it on that bee sting.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Used as a panacea – “Tobacco has been used for many things but my grandfather told me a story of a man who was very sick. He had been feeling bad for two or three days and he was very poor. The only thing he had that he thought might help him was a bag of tobacco. He rubbed the tobacco all over him and then put some in some water and drank it. He said that in the middle of the night he could already tell that he was better.” ~Parler FBA II 1350

Poultice for blood poisoning – “Wet green tobacco leaves and bind on for a poultice to cure blood poison.” ~Parler FBA II 1529

On stomach for convulsions – “For convulsions caused by worms moisten tobacco leaves and apply to stomach.” ~Parler FBA II 1926

Poultice for croup – “For croup dampen two or three leaves of tobacco and put them on the child’s chest and it will cause him to vomit and cure him.” ~Parler FBA II 1997

Snuff used for cuts – “Snuff, mixed with lard, is a good remedy for cuts and wounds.” ~Parler FBA II 2018

Tobacco in water for frostbite – “One-half plug of tobacco in bowl of warm water.” ~Parler FBA II 2284

Poultice on stomach for lock jaw – “Moisten tobacco leaves and make a poultice to lay on the stomach for lock-jaw.” ~Parler FBA III 2642

For warts – “Tobacco (chewed) applied to a wart will remove it.” ~Parler FBA III 3549

To keep your husband – “To keep your husband, put snuff in every corner of every room and black pepper under the front door steps.” ~Parler FBA VII 7051


Carter, Kay & Bonnie Krause – Home Remedies of the Illinois Ozarks (HRIO)
Parler, Mary Celestia – Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)
Pompey, Sherman Lee – Granny Gore’s Ozark Folk Medicine (GG)
Randolph, Vance – Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)

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