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Using tobacco to treat eye infections in cattle and goats

Eye infections are a common disease in animals especially cattle. They may be caused by bacteria or any contaminant falling in the animal’s eye. These infection cause irritation to the animal, reducing its feed intake and thus lower its productivity. Eye infections can also cause blindness if not treated in time. It is therefore important that farmers know cost effective and quick methods of treating these infections.

Okware kerement a farmer from Mukono uses tobacco leaves to treat eye infections in animals. When he sees an animal with tears flowing from the eye or the eye turning brown, cloudy, pink, or reddish, he administers this treatment as follow;

He pounds a handful of fresh tobacco leaves, squeezes them and drops three drops of the liquid from the leaves into the affected eye twice a day in the morning and evening. He does this for three days and the animal gets okay. He has been using this practice for a year now and says it has worked well for him.  

Please share with us your experience.

  1. Have you ever used or heard about this practice?
  2. What else can be added to this practice to make it more effective?
  3. Do you know of an alternative method used to treat animal eye infections?
  4. Do you know of any health risks that this practice could have?
  5. What precautions can farmers take to reduce these risks? 


Dear Members, below are some of the testimonies from farmers who have used tobacco to treat eye infections in Cattle and goats.

Asingwire Ollen from Rwegaaga village, Sheema district, has ever used tobacco to treat animals’ eye diseases. He saw that the eyes were red, and he suspected an eye disease. He treated this by grinding the tobacco leaves and adding 2 to 3 drops of water. He then used two drops from the mixture on to the diseased eye. He applied this mixture two times every day for a period of three days. He also knows of another local method that farmers use a he calls it “Smoking into the eye, here he says “You get dry tobacco leaves put them in a banana Leaf, then put on fire and smoke into the animal eyes that are affected”.

Laban Rutagumirwa from Mitooma district, Karehe village, has also ever used tobacco to treat animals’ eye diseases. He detected the eye disease, when he saw the cow rolling down. He explains how he treated this eye problem as follows, “you get a leaf of tobacco put it on fire for some seconds then squeeze it and get out liquid and put it in the affected eye”. He says, he applied one drop of this two times a day for four days. He also knows of another local method that farmers use by smoking tobacco in to the eye, they do this as follows, “grind tobacco, dry it and put it in a smoke pipe and put in fire and smoke into the affected eye”

Hi, this is Lea from Teca group, FAO. Thanks for sharing this method with us.

I found this book online (googlebook): Odugbemi, T.(2008): A Textbook of Medical Plants from Nigeria. – University of Lagos Press.

There it says that in Nigeria the juice from the leaves is applied to treat eye inflammation.
In Uganda a few drops of nicotiana tabacum powder soaked in water are reported to be effective for the treatment of ophthalmic problems.

Unfortunately there is no detailed information on the measurements and application, but it somehow supports your experiences.