Friday, May 20, 2016

1802: James Anderson discovers asthma cigarettes

figure 5 --Kellogg's Asthma Cigarettes (4)
A long time passed before British physician and asthmatic James Anderson visited India and enjoyed the mild breathing relief he obtained after smoking a cigarette containing datura strammonium.  The year was 1802.  (1)

Anderson returned to England and reported his find to his friend Dr. Sims in Edinbergh.  Sims trialed it, noted the benefits, and published a report in the Edinbrugh Medical and Surgican Journal. (2) (3, page 55)

After this report asthma cigarettes were entered into British and American pharmacopoeia, and ultimately became popular for the treatment of asthma in these western nations.  (2) (3 page 55)

Of course it also should be noted here that there were no standards or regulations regarding dosing in those days, and no recommendations as to how much of a medicine should be consumed, or in this case inhaled.  (3, page 55)

Perhaps for this reason, Dr Sims reportedly died a year after his report from an apparent overdosing of Belladonna.  (3, page 55)

  1. Sneader, Walter, "Drug discovery: a history, 2005, England,
  2. Sneader, ibid
  3. Smyth, Hugh D.C, Anthony J. Hickey, "Controlled Pulmonary Drug Delivery," 2100, Springer New York Dordrecht Heidelberg London
  4. Picture used with permission from
  5. Jackson, Mark, "'Divine Stramonium': The Rise and Fall of Smoking for Asthma,"  Med Hist., 2010 April; 54(2): 171–194.
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