The drug was created in a process which utilized the prim'ta of a Goa'uld Queen. When injected into humans, in its original form, the drug suppresses the natural human immune system and requires daily injections. It was later refined by the Tok'ra to replace the need for a symbiote exclusively in Jaffa.
Original development on PangarEdit
Around the year 1940, a Goa'uld queen was discovered in a canopic jar in an ancient temple created by Ra on Pangar. Realizing that the Goa'uld possess perfect health from their studies of the temple, the Pangarans immediately began researching how to utilize the Queen's offspring so as to reap the same health benefits. After decades of experimentation, Tretonin was developed. However, unknown to the Pangarans, the Goa'uld queen they were using was Egeria, the origin of the Tok'ra. Also unknown to them, Egeria had intentionally introduced a defective gene into her offspring, hoping to render them useless to the Pangarans in their attempts to perfect the drug. However, while this gene did succeed in hindering the overall effectiveness of the drug, it still proved to be quite effective, and thus the Pangarans continued to use her offspring in increasing numbers.
The Pangarans considered Tretonin to be their greatest scientific discovery, noting it to be capable of curing any ailment, even those once thought to be untreatable. Tretonin injections were administered by appointment at several facilities on Pangar. Given the relative scarcity of the drug, it was a privilege reserved for a select number of the population.
In the short term, most individuals encounter almost no side effects upon taking the drug, though some adverse effects do occur depending on the individual. These effects can, however, be mitigated by better-regulating the dosages taken.
The long term ramifications of taking tretonin are much more serious; Tretonin completely suppresses and takes over the human immune system upon entering the bloodstream. This results in a powerful resistance to disease. However, this healing effect is not permanent, and the user's immune system remains suppressed even after the drug is stopped. This renders the user vulnerable to terminal disease unless tretonin is taken regularly.
By 2002, it had become apparent to the Pangarans that Egeria was dying. Thus, if a new source of Goa'uld symbiotes was not found, the 20% of Pangarans presently taking the drug would be cut-off from it, resulting in their death. With the help of the Tok'ra and Egeria, an antidote for tretonin was developed, therein saving the lives of those affected. (SG1: "Cure")
Refinement by the Tok'raEdit
Though appalled by the way the Pangarans had treated their queen, the Tok'ra were nevertheless intrigued by the Pangarans' use of symbiotes in making a drug capable of imparting perfect health. Furthermore, they viewed it as a possible means toward ending the Jaffa's inherent dependence on the Goa'uld, and thus continued to research it.
Following the Ambush of Kresh'ta in 2003, Teal'c and Bra'tac were forced to share a single symbiote between them, which ultimately caused both of them to just barely remain alive at the expense of the health of the symbiote, which is incapable of sustaining two lives for any extended period. As replacement symbiotes could not be acquired to sustain them, Jacob Carter brought the Tok'ra's refined version of Tretonin to Stargate Command, using it to save Teal'c and Bra'tac shortly before the symbiote's death. As such, both individuals became dependent on the drug and continued to use it in lieu of a symbiote.
Initially somewhat unsure of its benefits, feeling as though he had become significantly weaker without the symbiote to support his healing, Teal'c came to recognize tretonin to be the Jaffa's only hope in achieving freedom from the System Lords. As per Jaffa culture, he accepted that a true Jaffa's strength came from himself rather than the symbiote or the tretonin. Later in 2004, SG-1 gave the Hak'tyl Tretonin so that they would no longer be forced to make raids for symbiotes. (SG1: "The Changeling", "Birthright", "Sacrifices")
As of 2007, the Tau'ri possessed the knowledge to manufacture tretonin; While trapped aboard the Odyssey in time dialation, Samantha Carter was able to use the Asgard computer core to synthesize Tretonin for Teal'c. (SG1: "Unending")
The effects of tretonin are not immediate upon injection; A Jaffa with a dangerously low amount of tretonin in their body will require several hours before their stamina is fully regained. A Jaffa taking tretonin in lieu of a symbiote will experience a slight but noticeable decrease in physical strength upon starting the drug. Furthermore, as tretonin replaces the need for a symbiote, Kelno'reem is no longer necessary. However, the practice may still be carried out for relaxation purposes. (SG1: "Orpheus")
It was indicated by Major Samantha Carter, that due to the fact that Tretonin replaced the Jaffa's need for a symbiote, Teal'c and Bra'tac's symbiote pouches had begun to close up. Whether this is the case with all Jaffa remains to be seen. The SGC expressed hope that the Jaffa would eventually be able to overcome the dependence on the drug, but there has been no indication of progress in this matter one way or the other.