Nicotine contains nitrogen and made from different types of plants, including the tobacco plant. Its production is on a synthetic level also. Nicotiana tabacum is a type of nicotine found in tobacco plants. It is from the nightshade family, which includes red peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes.
It has addictive properties that creates dependence. It does not excessively harm but tobacco present in it can harm in long run.
The tobacco plant is an indigenous plant and used as a medicine and stimulant for at least 2,000 years now. It is still not known that how it first reached Europe but it was first seen there only.
It was initially used for medicinal purposes only but later it was found to be toxic and habit forming. Its use in cigars and smoking pipes come to light in the 1600s. This industry grew in the 1700s and took a boom in 1880.
In 1880, the first machine to produce paper cigarettes got patented and then there was no looking back for this industry as it was very easy to produce and consume paper cigarettes. Tobacco as an insecticide was first used in 1763.
In the later 19th century, it was banned in many stores in the US and lawmakers also made a rule that it will be not sold to individuals below 26 years of age because of its harmful effects. In 1994 FDA announced that tobacco is a dependency drug that causes heart and lung diseases.
It has both types of effects on the body, negative and positive. It is used as a sedative and as a stimulant. When a body comes in contact with nicotine, it releases adrenaline that gives a kick to the energy level.
It helps in release of glucose that increases heart rate, breathing activity, and blood pressure. It also decreases the production of insulin that causes increase in blood sugar in the body. It releases dopamine that gives pleasure in the brain.
Dopamine is a chemical that regulates feelings and emotions in the brain. The higher the level of dopamine, the higher are the feelings. Nicotine also acts as a sedative if taken in a higher dosage.
Pharmacologic effects are those effects that increase heart rate and stroke volume and oxygen consumption rate in human beings, mammals, and animals.
Consuming nicotine is also linked to raised alertness, euphoria, and a sensation of being relaxed.
Concentration and memory
Nicotine helps in improving memory and concentration because of an increase in acetylcholine and norepinephrine in the brain. It also increases wakefulness. It increases the level of beta-endorphin that helps in reducing anxiety.
It is a highly addictive drug and those who consume it on a daily basis and stops it suddenly may experience withdrawal symptoms. They are a sense of emptiness, depression, anxiety, irritation, and focus issues.
Its treatment includes a therapy that is known as smoking cessation therapy. It helps in reducing the urge to consume nicotine.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): This therapy helps in reducing urges and cravings. It comes in skin patches, nasal sprays, inhalers, and solutions that can be rubbed into the gums. But it does not completely cure the withdrawal symptoms.
Bupropion: It was initially used as an anti-depressant medication. Later it was found that it also helps in reducing nicotine cravings and similar effectiveness to NRT. It also has the side effect of insomnia and suicidal tendencies.
Varenicline, sold as Chantix: This medication triggers a receptor in the brain that usually responds only to nicotine and blocks it. It also helps in reducing the craving to smoke and gives a satisfactory feeling of not having nicotine. Its side effect is mild nausea that can be well tolerated.
Counseling and psychological support
Apart from medication, counseling and psychological support also helps in relieving withdrawal symptoms. Talking your heart out and keeping oneself busy can lead to effectively quitting smoking. It also helps in uplifting of mood and reduces depression and anxiety.
There are so many myths associated with the consumption of nicotine. A most common myth is that cigarettes and tobacco products are highly addictive, but it is not known that role and amount of nicotine make a lot of difference. It is what causes addiction and keeps people using tobacco products. Overdose of tobacco is what makes it dangerous and deadly. It can cause heart and lungs related issues.
How to Recognize Nicotine
Nicotine is mainly sold in cigarettes and rarely as a singular product. It is also available in liquid form for use in e-cigarettes. All the products containing nicotine should have a WARNING label stating that the product contains Nicotine.
Can You Overdose on Nicotine?
It is poisonous and overdose is possible, though not common. Most often, it’s poisoning occurs when children mistake nicotine gum or lozenges for candy. If you experience any of the side effects or symptoms, immediately ask for help:
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased or decreased heart rate