Nicotine

Nicotine is an odorless and colorless naturally occurring liquid alkaloid compound found in many plants, including, of course, tobacco.  The compound is made out of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and sometimes oxygen.  These alkaloid chemicals can have definitive effects on the human body.  For example, many people regularly enjoy the stimulating effects of another alkaloid, caffeine, as they enjoy a cup or two of coffee in the morning.  Both caffeine and nicotine are classified as secondary stimulants because they affect the sympathetic nervous system more than the central nervous system.

Unlike stimulants that are abused for recreational purposes, caffeine and nicotine actually produce an increased energy level, but not a feeling of intoxication.  In fact, if you mix nicotine and caffeine, the stimulating effect is multiplied.  That’s why so many smokers also drink coffee.

Did you know that trace elements of nicotine can be found in many in common foods and vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, eggplant, chili peppers and some teas?  Tobacco companies just don’t just any of those because the cost of extracting the nicotine and synthesizing it is much more expensive than using tobacco leaves.

Smoking Nicotine

The average cigarette contains from 1 to 16 grams of nicotine.  When inhaled, nicotine enters the bloodstream, reaching the brain in less than 10 seconds.  In less than a minute, nicotine spreads throughout the entire body, providing the smoker with alertness and a relaxing effect.

Technically, what nicotine does is switch on receptors on the surface of cells in certain parts of the brain, causing these neurons to release the Neuro-transmitter dopamine, a chemical that is associated with pleasure.  That’s the well know reason why people smoke

But, in less than 30 minutes, the nicotine effects decrease, and the smoker becomes irritable and less alert.  That’s why they have the tendency to grab and light another cigarette to get a new “fix” from nicotine.  This explains the addictive effect of smoking. Before a person knows it, they have lit more than 10 -20 cigarettes in one day

But, nicotine is not the “bad guy”.  In fact, there are currently many uses and tests being done on the benefits of nicotine.  The killer is the tobacco cigarette, the delivery system, with its 4,000 chemicals and 63 carcinogens.

Nicotine Benefits (Yes, you heard me right)

There are numerous scientific studies ongoing that show nicotine actually may offer some valuable benefits.   Here is a list of just a few of those:

  • Improved concentration and focus.
  • Treatment in many medical conditions like Depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, Schizophrenia , Obesity, and even some cancers.

Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine addiction has been found to be one of the hardest addictions to kick.  In fact, it is one of the most addictive substances in the world; more addictive than either cocaine or heroin.  That’s why 90% of smokers that try to quit are unsuccessful in the long run.  Help from products like Nicorette and the patch are generally poor.  In fact, both of those products are less than 8% effective because they are only designed for short term use.  Once a smoker stops using them, the nicotine craving returns and many go back on cigarettes.

With an increase in anti-smoking campaigns, which is effecting tobacco company revenues,  tobacco companies are upping the levels of nicotine in their cigarettes to make it all that harder to quit smoking.  Since 1998 alone, tobacco companies have increased nicotine levels by over 10% in cigarettes and mixed in other chemicals like ammonia, to boost the nicotine “hit”..

Nicotine acts as a stimulant mostly in new users, whereas long-term users usually find that it relaxes them.