Nicotine has long been stigmatized due to its association with smoking; however, as discussed in earlier installments of this series, nicotine can be consumed in many ways. Now that you have an understanding of what it is and where it comes from, it's time to move on to more important matters: What does nicotine do to the body and the brain?The Effects of Nicotine on the Body
The frequency of nicotine use and the type of delivery system has an impact on how much nicotine is absorbed into the body. Regardless of the amount, nicotine only remains detectable for about 2-11 hours after absorption. A metabolite of nicotine called cotinine, however, can linger in the blood, saliva, hair and urine for longer. Genetics, age and diet play a role in how fast these chemicals are metabolized.
In some jurisdictions, employers can require employees to abstain from tobacco use even outside of work. So how do employers monitor tobacco use outside of the job? They use a nicotine or cotinine test, which obviously presents complications since some non-tobacco products contain nicotine. While nicotine testing for employment to promote smoke-free workplaces is highly controversial, it is nonetheless legal.The Short-Term Effects of Nicotine
Nicotine's immediate short-term effects are comparable to caffeine. Both substances cause a brief rise in blood pressure and heart rate. If chronic, these symptoms are linked to cardiovascular issues, yet research on nicotine patches has demonstrated no association between nicotine use alone and health problems like cancers or heart disease. Smoking or chewing tobacco is certainly dangerous, but consumption of nicotine by itself appears to be as harmless as drinking coffee.
The consumption of nicotine also increases blood glucose levels. This is generally thought to be the result of the increase in adrenalin levels, which stimulate the liver to release glucose. This is why nicotine intake is often associated with weight loss, as the rise in blood glucose levels increases the metabolic rate, which in turn leads to reduced appetite.The Effects of Nicotine on the Brain
It only takes about 10 to 20 seconds after inhalation for nicotine to start stimulating neural receptors to release dopamine. Dopamine supplies a sense of relaxation despite the stimulative effects of nicotine on the brain. Some exciting new research has even uncovered some therapeutic uses for nicotine. Controlled doses of the substance have been used to successfully treat Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, Tourette's and schizophrenia. When used as treatment in research studies on Alzheimer's, nicotine has shown to significantly improve attention, memory and psychomotor speed. Nicotine receptors also facilitate the entry of calcium into cells, so nicotine is believed to increase intracellular calcium, which in turn supports cell survival.
Interestingly, studies on nicotine have not resulted in participants becoming addicted to nicotine patches, nor did patients experience withdrawal. This fact gives further support to the theory that the other chemicals in tobacco products play a larger role in addiction. Since most effects of nicotine on the body are temporary, it remains to be seen whether or not medicinal nicotine would work in the long term.The More You Know About Nicotine…
Knowledge is your greatest asset for protecting your health. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about the effects of nicotine on the body, but hopefully this series helps clear up most of them. In Part 4, we'll take a look at nicotine overdose and the symptoms of nicotine poisoning.
In Part 1 titled “Where Does Nicotine Come From”, we looked into the history of nicotine and how it has evolved over the years. Now we'll take a look at the nicotine content in the various forms of nicotine delivery systems, from tobacco cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapies to electronic cigarettes.From Smoking to Vaping: Understanding Nicotine Content
Picking the right nicotine strength is crucial if you hope to give up smoking for vaping. Fortunately, the nicotine contents of e-liquids are usually listed right on the label, but how much nicotine is in cigarettes? The answer technically varies by brand, but more importantly, you need to understand how nicotine intake via smoking differs from nicotine consumption via vaping.How Much Nicotine Does a Cigarette Have?
A better question than “how much nicotine does a cigarette have?” is “how much nicotine do smokers absorb into their bodies?” A typical cigarette contains between 10-20mg of nicotine, yet only about 1mg is actually absorbed into the body. The amount of nicotine in a smoker's bloodstream has more to do with how often they smoke rather than which brand they prefer. The additional chemicals added to cigarettes act as fuel to deliver nicotine as quickly as possible.
Nicotine can seep into your bloodstream through your skin, lungs or mucous membranes located in your nose and mouth. People have been using nicotine replacement therapies, or NRTs, such as patches and lozenges for decades to ease the symptoms of tobacco withdrawal. E-cigarettes, which the FDA are now calling electronic nicotine delivery systems, are designed to closely mimic the act of smoking, yet the delivery method of nicotine has a significant impact on how it is absorbed into the body.How Much Nicotine is in Nicotine Replacement Products?
Nicotine patches, on the other hand, work through skin contact and deliver nicotine in controlled quantities over a 24-hour period. They typically come in doses of 5-22mg. Nicotine gums and lozenges usually come in 2-4mg doses and have a more immediate effect as they are absorbed through the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth. Nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays come in various doses, yet similar to cigarettes, only about 1-2mg is absorbed into the blood.How Much Nicotine is in E-Cigarettes?
Now that we know how much nicotine is in cigarettes, let's talk about their electronic counterparts. E-cigs and e-liquids come in different nicotine levels, which are measured in either milligrams or nicotine by volume (NBV). White Cloud products use NBV, and we have an extensive article about nicotine content to help explain why this is the more honest way to label e-liquids. The article also gives guidance for choosing the right nicotine strength based on your smoking habits.
Over the past few years, studies have emerged suggesting that vaping is a less effective nicotine delivery method than smoking, so vapers, on the whole, consume less nicotine per puff.How Does Nicotine Affect the Body?
Every smoker knows that nicotine can calm them down; however, paradoxically, it actually stimulates the central nervous system. How is this possible? In the next installment of this series, Part 3, we'll find out by exploring the effects of nicotine on the body.
Most people associate nicotine with tobacco cigarettes, which is why the substance has such a negative reputation. Everyone knows that cigarettes are bad for you, but does that mean nicotine itself is dangerous? Exactly how much nicotine is in cigarettes? Furthermore, is nicotine naturally in tobacco, or is it something that tobacco companies add to cigarettes? Where does nicotine come from in e-liquids?What is Nicotine and Where Did it Come From?
Let's start with the easiest question: Is nicotine naturally in tobacco? Nicotine is indeed an alkaloid that is found in tobacco and other members of the nightshade family, including eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. It's safe to say that humans have been consuming nicotine for thousands of years because tobacco cultivation began in the Americans around 6,000 B.C. People were most likely smoking or chewing it. Even Christopher Columbus received a gift of dried tobacco leaves upon his arrival in the Bahamas. He even brought tobacco leaves and seeds back to Europe.How Has Nicotine Evolved?
Nicotine was named in honor of Jean Nicot de Villemain, the French diplomat responsible for introducing tobacco to the Queen of France, who used it to treat her headaches. Believe it or not, tobacco was once thought to have medicinal qualities; however, as far back as the 17th century, doctors discovered correlations between tobacco use and maladies such as cancer. Around the same time, over 25,000,000 pounds of tobacco was being cultivated annually in the Jamestown colony alone, making it the number one export of the American colonies.
It is important to note that consumption of nicotine alone is not thought to be the cause of smoking-related health problems. There are other chemicals in tobacco and even more in cigarettes that are known carcinogens. Nicotine was once thought to be the chief driver of tobacco dependency, yet new evidence suggests that those other chemicals play a larger role in cigarette addiction.
In an interesting twist, recent studies have discovered that nicotine by itself may actually have medicinal benefits. Researchers around the world are experimenting successfully with using nicotine to treat depression, Parkinson's disease and even Alzheimer's.How is Nicotine Used Today?
Most people still consume nicotine from tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars or chewing tobacco. Of course, nicotine is also found in nicotine patches and some e-liquids. So where does nicotine come from in nicotine replacement therapies? It is usually extracted from tobacco, but it can also be manufactured synthetically. The theory behind nicotine replacement is that it mitigates the withdrawal effects of tobacco. We now know that cigarette addiction has multiple facets, which is why e-cigarettes were developed in the first place: to closely mimic the process of smoking without the same health risks.
If you're considering taking up vaping to replace smoking, you first need to decide whether or not you want an e-liquid that contains nicotine. Some smokers find that they don't need the nicotine because the act of vaping itself satisfies their urges. If you do decide to go the nicotine route, you must choose a nicotine strength, which should depend on how many cigarettes you smoke every day.
It is important to note that the effects of nicotine differ depending on the delivery method. For example, research suggests that vapers take in less nicotine than smokers per puff. In part 2 of this series, we'll take a look at how much nicotine is in cigarettes to find out how much nicotine smokers are consuming.