Tobacco was first discovered by the native people of Mesoamerica and South America and later introduced to Europe and the rest of the world. Archeological finds indicate that humans in the Americas began using tobacco as far back as 12,300 years ago, thousands of years earlier than previously documented.
Tobacco had already long been used in the Americas by the time European settlers arrived and took the practice to Europe, where it became popular. Eastern North American tribes have historically carried tobacco in pouches as a readily accepted trade item, as well as smoking it in pipe ceremonies, whether for sacred ceremonies or those to seal a treaty or agreement.
In addition to its use in spiritual and religious ceremonies, tobacco is also used for medical treatment of physical conditions. As a pain killer it has been used for earache and toothache and occasionally as a poultice. Some indigenous peoples in California have used tobacco as one ingredient in smoking mixtures for treating colds. In addition to its traditional medicinal uses, tobacco was also used as a form of currency between Native Americans and Colonists from the 1620s on.