By Paul Bergen of tobaccoharmreduction.org
In the New World, tobacco was both thought of as a panacea for all that could ail you and also as a spiritual conduit. Using it cured you, kept you safe, and could give you visions. And it also helped with what was more common in those days: a less reliable food supply.
In other words, more people were more hungry more of the time.
Tobacco, and the nicotine it contained, was an effective appetite suppressant and a food substitute. When you smoked, it both distracted you from thinking about food as well as suppressing the cravings.
Nicotine: The Appetite Suppressant
We still use tobacco as an appetite suppressant, but more to combat the desire to eat than to survive the times when food is not available. However, the poor (and supermodels) still smoke to alleviate hunger.
Historically it appears that many psychoactive substances were adopted precisely because they helped alleviate hunger. Hallucinations were much more common in those days – both because of the use of tobacco (which had a much higher nicotine content) and many other suppressants with similar side effects, and also because extreme hunger caused people to eat most anything to fill their stomachs and quite often those substances had side effects.
Do you use electronic cigarettes to distract themselves from hunger? And if so, has vaping been as effective as smoking in quieting the pangs? Leave an answer below, or take our poll on our facebook page!
(Tip of the hat once again to Goodman’s Tobacco in History for the historical background.)
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Audrain-McGovern J. and Benowitz N.L, Cigarette Smoking, Nicotine, and Body Weight, Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Jul; 90(1): 164–168., Published online 2011 Jun 1. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2011.105