Posted on 28 December 2011.
This article is by Paul Bergen of tobaccoharmreduction.org and is reprinted here for discussion purposes only:
Editor’s Note: This really has nothing to do with electronic or tobacco cigarettes at all, but it is still both very amusing and informative. I’m pretty sure everyone will enjoy this:
Electronic cigarettes come in at a time when the ways of using tobacco and/or nicotine today don’t exhibit quite the imagination when compared to days of yore.
Nowadays the choices are: inhaling, chewing and/or a little bit of snuffing.
Just a few mere centuries ago, the range included drinking liquids of steeped tobacco leaves, applying tobacco poultices, and engaging in enemas. Typically the last 2 were reserved in treating medical conditions and the last, tobacco enemas, was embraced by Europeans as a legitimate medical treatment and actually persisted for quite some time.
Since American Indians employed enemas in their medical treatments even before contact, the Europeans followed. And just as Europeans appropriated the consumption of tobacco by smoking pipes, cigars and snuffing, so too they introduced the practice of using tobacco smoke in rectal devices known as clysters….
The tobacco clyster, using either smoke or an infusion, depending on whose authority was being followed, was widely practiced well into the nineteenth century..Tobacco clysters were used in the hopes of treating ailments of the colon and the bowel. They were also recommended in attempts to resuscitate drowned individuals, as well as those who had suffocated, had convulsions and fits, or were frozen. (pgs 84-5: Goodman’s Tobacco in History)
You can see the bellows for the smoke in the fancy kit above.
Reading this passage reminded me of reading another years ago in an alternative health guide suggesting that, if someone was having a heart attack, you should immediately force a tablespoon of cayenne powder down their throat. Rather than sounding like good advice it sounded more like adding insult to injury (though having your tongue on fire might distract you from the chest pains).
Though today there is a thriving business in colonics, nobody seems to be working very hard to bring back the smoke enema. If they should, the anti-smoking folks would have to go back to the word farm to come up with a catchy term for the health risk… or would they be happy to leave it as ‘first-hand smoke’ (of which it neither, of course)?
No doubt once you’ve unclenched your kiester after getting your clyster you would be endangering the others in the vicinity with a lesser-known variation of second-hand smoke.