The Snuff Tobacco Reference


A sternutatory is a medicine in the form of a powder that is snuffed as to induce sneezing with the aim to benefit disorders of the head thereby. Gardiner writing in 1610 explained: Sternutatories, eſpecially thoſe which are made of Tabacco, being drawne vp into the noſtrels, cauſe ſneeſing, conſuming and ſpendin away groſſe and ſlimie humors from the ventricles of the braine. Theſe kind of remedies muſt needs doe good where the brain is repleat with many vapours, for thoſe that haue a lethargy or vertiginy, in all long geiſes, paines and aches of the head, in continuall ſenſeleſſes, or benumming of the braine, and for a hicket that proceedeth of repletion. In the given sense distinct from a errhine, the terms would converge as clarified by Dunglison in 1857: At one time errhines were separated from sternutatories—the former comprising agents that excite an increased discharge from the Schneiderian membrane; the latter those that provoke sneezing; but the class of errhines is now made to include both. Tobacco in the form of snuff historically found much use in the role of a sternutatory. See also and compare Errhine.


  1. The Triall of Tabacco. Edmund Gardiner. Pages 25(a)–26(b). 1610.
  2. General Therapeutics and Materia Medica. Robley Dunglison. Volume 1; Section 3; Subsection 1; Pages 279–284. 1857.
  3. Dr. Radcliffe’s Practical Dispensatory. Edward Strother. Fifth Edition; Pages 154–156. 1730. Digitised version