Nicotine Definition : Effects Of Nicotine

What is nicotine?

Nicotine is an organic compound which occurs in a relatively high concentration in the tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum), and also in dried tobacco. Nicotine is one of the main causes of the addictive but also numbing effect of smoking. When it wears off withdrawal symptoms arise. The name nicotine is derived from the Latin name of the tobacco plant. This plant is named after Jean Nicot. Nicotine was first isolated by two German chemists, Posselt and Reiman in 1828. In 1895, the structural formula of nicotine was determined by Adolf Pinner.

Nicotine is not only found in tobacco, but in all kinds of plants belonging to the family Solanaceae, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and aubergine. Nicotine is also found in the leaves of the coca plant (Erythroxylum coca).

 Nicotine is an organic compound which occurs in a relatively high concentration in the to Nicotine Definition : Effects Of Nicotine

Chemical and physical properties

The substance is a hygroscopic, colorless, oily liquid which is very well miscible with water. The substance can be drawn from tobacco, through the leaves in water to soak for 12 hours, after which the nicotine floats to the top. The fabric tastes bitter and is highly alkaline. It forms a salt with an acid.

At elevated temperature the nicotine evaporates easily making it can be inhaled, for example, from a cigarette. In contact with air discolor the fabric brownish.

Biology of nicotine

Nicotine is one of the alkaloids, a group of heterocyclic compounds which also stimulants such as caffeine and cocaine belong. Also in the medicine used substances are alkaloids, such as morphine and codeine.

In the dry weight of a tobacco plant is from 0.3 to 5% nicotine. Nicotine is produced by the plant in its roots. However, the nicotine accumulates in the leaves. With nicotine plants defend themselves against predation by insects and herbivores. The nervous system of many insects is probably very sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of nicotine. Insecticides such as imidacloprid have been chemically and pharmacologically related to nicotine.

The caterpillar Manduca sexta (Manduca sexta), a moth is resistant to nicotine from the tobacco plant. The caterpillar can, in contrast to other insect, tobacco plant freely eat away. The caterpillar even this plant has a preference for, and stores the nicotine in his body. Therefore, the track is unattractive for its natural enemies.

In the evolution of the tobacco plant has developed a defense mechanism against the attack by the Manduca sexta caterpillar. If the plant comes into contact with the saliva of the crawler due to eat this of the plant, the tobacco plant makes certain fragrances to, where predatory insects to come off. These enemies of the caterpillar Manduca sexta not eat themselves, but parasitize the eggs that laid the butterfly on the plant. Also, these aroma substances result in the Manduca sexta going to lay fewer eggs.

Uptake and degradation of nicotine by man
The amount of nicotine inhaled with tobacco smoke is quite small because the substance is largely destroyed by the heat. Still, this is sufficient to experience direct effects of the substance.

Nicotine may enter the body in three ways:
  • Through the lungs by tobacco smoke or fumes through an E-Liquid for E-cigarettes (electronic cigarette);
  • Mucosal by chewing tobacco or under the upper lip for example in the use of snus, smoking or sniffing;
  • Through the skin by application of nicotine (in the form of, for example, the nicotine patch, which make people to get in nicotine without smoking, especially if they want to stop smoking).

As nicotine enters the body, it is quickly spread through the circulatory system. The fabric hereby also ends up in the brains. This takes about 7 seconds.

Nicotine leaves the body part directly through the kidneys. However, most of it is degraded in the liver, in which nicotine is converted to cotinine.

Effects of high dose - toxicity

Nicotine is a powerful neurotoxin, especially for insects. It is then also in a variety of insecticides. For people nicotine is toxic: a cigar contains enough nicotine to kill a toddler, the toddler as the cigar would eat.

It has not been demonstrated that nicotine is a carcinogen. Smoking causes cancer by the other substances present in the smoke. There is, however, demonstrated that nicotine slows down the apoptosis, the destruction of unwanted cells in the body. Because many mutated or damaged cells that can develop into cancer at an early stage are destroyed by apoptosis, one thinks, especially when combined with the numerous carcinogens in tobacco smoke, nicotine does contribute to the development of cancer. Moreover, the addictiveness of nicotine is an important aspect why people continue to smoke. Therefore, the nicotine in cigarette smoke is partly responsible for the great epidemic of lung cancer by smoking.

In high doses, nicotine creates nausea and vomiting. The LD50 is 3 mg / kg for mice. For people (non-smokers) 40-65 milligrams can be fatal. Smokers build a decent resistance nicotinevergifiging on. Nicotine poisoning can lead to death by respiratory paralysis.

Smoking and nicotine
In tobacco are thousands of fabrics, but one of those substances, nicotine, the pleasant feeling which people repeatedly produces light another cigarette because nicotine very quickly gives a slight feeling of withdrawal, the smoker experiences as 'desire for a cigarette' .

Nicotine can both excite and relax a smoker, depending on the dose, eliminating the slight craving for the drug (by addiction) plays a major role here. This two-way effect is known from other materials, for example, also occurs in alcohol. The first drink is working disinhibition and stimulating, but those who drink more are numbed by alcohol. In a first use of nicotine is rapidly adrenaline produced by the body. Some effects of nicotine than actually caused by the adrenaline.

Nicotine also blocks the release of the hormone insulin. As a result, glucose is absorbed less rapidly as insulin, after all, responsible for the uptake of glucose into the cells. Because the brains to this "seeing" next that there is sufficient glucose present in the blood, also occurs less appetite. For this reason, there are some people who like to smoke to stay slim easier. Moreover, it is so that people who quit smoking often suffer from weight gain because they amount appetite that has a non-smoker, no longer accustomed.

The stimulatory or just relaxing effect of nicotine is one of the many factors that make up the pleasure of smoking. The main factor is actually the physical and mental craving for nicotine is released by smoking eg a cigarette. A non-smoker will therefore feel themselves more relaxing than a smoker. Smoking can exacerbate stress. Nicotine also increases the heart rate. Nicotine constricts blood vessels, reducing blood pressure goes up and thrombosis may occur. Nicotine increases the risk of heart attack, eventually makes the skin softer and grayer, and can cause premature menopause in women. Men may be impotent from there. Finally, by the respiration is accelerated and cure nicotine in people under the influence of nicotine wounds and bone fractures more slowly.

In addition to the above effects, with smoking also increases dopamine levels. Smoking hinders the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO), which is responsible for the degradation of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. It is currently reflecting, however, other substances in cigarette smoke responsible for this than nicotine.


With prolonged use, one is dependent on nicotine and creates a persistent addiction. Regular users of nicotine often develop a physical dependence on the substance. The addictive effect is similar to that of heroin or cocaine. Many, however, find this comparison is incorrect. Stop with the use of nicotine withdrawal symptoms caused. These are amplified by the psychological dependence, so that it may cause symptoms such as agitation, headache, anxiety, cognitive disorders, and sleep disturbance. These symptoms have a peak after about 2-3 days, and usually disappear after 2-3 weeks, because the nicotine then for more than 90% out of the body has disappeared. Who has more trouble, often attaches much importance to the cigarette, rather than glad to be rid of this addiction.

The human autonomic and central nervous systems contain receptors that are sensitive to nicotine. These receptors go when exposed to nicotine ask for more. Moreover, the number of receptors increases as a person smokes more. In addition, the number of receptors is determined by heredity.

If a person stops smoking, continue to ask nicotine receptors, causing an urge to smoke arises again. If someone is stopped long enough receptors thereby keeping on. But as soon as a cigarette is raised again, the receptors go as usual again ask for nicotine. Therefore, quitting smoking so hard, and it is almost impossible to "a little" to smoke.

The amount of nicotine that enters through tobacco smoking in the body depends on many factors:
  • the type of tobacco
  • whether or not to inhale
  • the use of a filter

In order to reduce the health risks of smoking, there are light-cigarettes placed on the market, which contain a lower amount of nicotine. However, research has shown that because of the needs of the smoker to nicotine remains the same, the smoker of these light cigarettes more will smoke, deeper inhalation, further smoke it and / or flattening the perforations in the filter, so that the same amount of nicotine is obtained and thus also at least the same amount of the other harmful substances.

The use of chewing tobacco or snuff tobacco, in which the mouth is held between the lip and the gum, is much more nicotine in the body than in smoking. These uses are addictive.

Nicotine during pregnancy
If the mother smokes, the nicotine reaches the unborn baby through the placenta. However, the effects of the lesser oxygen and more carbon monoxide on the fetus seem more severe than the effect of nicotine, but also the nicotine is harmful. It is therefore recommended not to use nicotine patches during pregnancy and to quit smoking.

Also during the period of lactation using nicotine is not recommended.

Nicotine stains
Nicotine and tar (related substances) can cause brown stains on fingers and teeth. Home remedies which could work against it are:
  • brush with pumice or toothpaste
  • rub with lemon juice, Biotex, nail polish remover, glycerine and egg yolk with white spirit

Herapeutische applications

In a number of situations, it appears to be able to smoking have a therapeutic effect on the patients. These are sometimes called Smoker's Paradoxes. The therapeutic effect is mainly attributed to nicotine. Often, the actual operation is not yet or not fully understood.

Studies have shown that smokers require less revascularization after percutaneous coronary intervention. Smokers run a significantly reduced risk of ulcerative colitis and smoking cessation appears to negate this protection. Smoking affects the formation of Kaposi's sarcoma.

Research has shown that the majority of people with schizophrenia tobacco consumes. Estimates of the number vary between 75 and 90%. It is believed that people with schizophrenia itself as administer medication and take advantage of than healthy people.

Research is being conducted to the treatment with nicotine of a number of disorders such as ADHD, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease by nicotine or its degradation products. There are also indications that nicotine may be used in certain types of epilepsy.

However, the main therapeutic application of nicotine is the treatment of nicotine dependence. By administering a controlled dose of nicotine to the patient, via, for example, chewing gum, patches, or nasal spray, one can reduce the dependence of smoking. It works gum and rapidly. A patch is slower and more gradual. The nicotine substitutes are since 1983 on the Dutch market.

The term nicotine replacement therapy can lead to confusion. In most nicotine substitutes nicotine is not replaced by another substance, but it is the source to which one takes nicotine itself to be replaced by another source. This does not alter the need for nicotine. A recent new nicotine replacement is the E-cigarette that is less innocent than is often thought, and possibly carcinogenic. Other studies show that the e-cigarette is an effective method to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. The number of toxic substances which is inhaled through the vapor of a e-cigarette is many times smaller than with the smoking of tobacco, the nicotine, whereas it in a similar way to smoking can be consumed.

Nicotine is - illegally - used to control mites in poultry. In 2005, the General Inspectorate in the Netherlands increased nicotine 1000 liters up to a decontamination company. Because a number of other anti-mite are prohibited, chicken breeders resort to nicotine. In 2006 the National Institute for Public Health and Environment has published a report on risk assessment for the presence of nicotine and cotinine in laying hens and eggs. The conclusions in this report are:
  • There is no evidence that a 3 hour exposure of chickens to an atmosphere with 800 mg of nicotine per cubic meter (by spraying an aqueous nicotine solution to combat mite) causes adverse effects on the health of the animals or egg production.
  • The risk for the health of the consumer as a result of consumption of eggs with residues of nicotine (in this case, 3-hydroxycotinine and cotinine), as a result of treatment of the chickens with nicotine by means of atomization (for the control of red mite), is too negligible.
  • It is recommended that after a treatment of chickens with nicotine by means of atomisation (for the control of red mite), to take a period of two weeks in eight before such chickens for slaughter.
  • Under the condition that the said period of two weeks between treatment of chickens with nicotine (by means of nebulization for the control of mites), and slaughter of poultry which is taken into account, is the risk to the health of the consumer upon consumption of meat of could be considered negligible chickens as a result of the presence of residues of nicotine, cotinine, and 3-hydroxycotinine.

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