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What Is Nicotine?

All around the world, millions if not billions of people smoke, sniff or chew tobacco every day. They do this not because it is trendy or attractive, but because they are more than likely addicted to the nicotine, which is found in tobacco products.

Nicotine has been around for ages, and is available in various tobacco products. Nicotine is a colourless substance, which turns brown when ignited. This may also be the reason why smokers and those who consume other nicotine containing products have stained, yellow teeth and stained fingers (from holding the cigarette).

Just like caffeine and other drugs that alter your state of mind, nicotine has been classified as a stimulant. Smoking, chewing or sniffing tobacco, releases the nicotine drug into the brain, where it produces a "feel good" response.

Nicotine works by attaching to the brain cells, where it releases a neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Dopamine affects a variety of brain functions, including learning and concentration levels, appetite, and is also responsible for regulating calm and pleasurable feelings in the body. This could explain why smokers feel calmer and more relaxed after having a puff of their cigarette.

Despite the Surgeon General's warnings on cigarette packs and the government's pleas to stop smoking in public places, people continue to consume nicotine. It's a crutch, a highly addictive drug, and consumption of it is not only bad for your health, but also alters your state of mind. According to the Cancer Council, nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs of all.

Apart from its proven addictive crutch, nicotine is also a poisonous substance. So harmful, in fact, that in its concentrated form, it has been used as pesticide for crops. Now, just imagine filling your lungs with poisonous chemicals. Well, that is almost exactly what is being done when nicotine is being consumed, either through cigarettes, cigars or chewing tobacco.

Cigarette smoking is one of the most popular forms of nicotine consumption, with each cigarette containing about ten milligrams of nicotine. When a smoker puffs on his cigarette, he is probably taking in about two to three milligrams of nicotine. The remaining nicotine gets lost in the smoke that is not inhaled.

Nicotine enters the brain within eight seconds, where it immediately alters your mind state and produces certain body functions. While in the body, nicotine may cause an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and may release more glucose (blood sugar) into the blood stream.

As it is a highly addictive drug, users of nicotine often suffer from withdrawal symptoms when the level of nicotine in their body is running low or depleted. Nicotine levels in the blood may start to drop after only 48 hours after consuming a cigarette. After that time period, the smoker will start to develop withdrawal symptoms, which often include insomnia, irritability, anxiety as well as changes in blood pressure and heart rate.

Consumption of nicotine can lead to a variety of health risks. When consumed in high doses, nicotine can cause failure to the respiratory system as well as possible paralysis. Long-term use of the drug can cause damage to the lungs, while smaller doses of fewer than 50 milligrams, nicotine can cause low blood pressure, dizziness and heart palpitations.

For many people who are addicted to smoking, a nicotine-containing gum is often an option to help them quit the habit. Although these gums contain nicotine, the rate at which the nicotine is released into the body is much slower than it is with cigarettes. Nicotine-containing gums may be an alternative, however, long-term use of them may still cause health problems.

Author: Dimi Ingle
Copyright: Remedium. This article may not be copied, in whole or in part, without the written consent of Remedium.

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