Nicotine is an alkaloid found commonly in tobacco and also a few other plants. It’s one of the most active ingredients in cigarettes and it is one of the main reasons people smoke cigarettes in the first place. When you inhale a cigarette, nicotine rapidly enters you blood stream and within seconds enters your brain. This makes the brain release adrenaline into the body but this lasts only for a very short while before it wears off. But when the adrenaline is released into the body you feel a sudden burst of energy and excitement. Since it wears off almost immediately smokers tend to smoke more cigarettes over time and over a period the body grows a resistance to the nicotine and you need to smoke more cigarettes to get the buzz you used to get. Nicotine as a substance though isn’t harmful by itself. It is addictive yes, but its addictiveness is similar to that of coffee. The problem with nicotine is that most people get their fix of nicotine from cigarettes. So, let me list down the positive and negative effects of nicotine.
Positive effects of nicotine:
- It improves your memory:
Yes, I just said that but let me explain. Studies have shown that nicotine is a cognitive enhancer and at this day and age the most reliable one available to humans. A recent studies on humans concluded that nicotine helped people remember things better and for a longer time. It also found there were positive effects on response times, attention and long and short term memory.
- Helps with Alzheimer:
Nicotine shows great promise in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and it also seems to help patients affected by the disease to lead a better life. A study showed that patients treated with nicotine were found to have more cognitive function. Since Alzheimer affects cognitive functions, nicotine can help them regain some of their memory, attention and reaction time.
- Curing depression:
Nicotine is shown to reduce depression, it seems to stimulate areas of the brain that results in the secretion of dopamine and serotonin, both of which are linked to happiness and a sense of achievement. Both these hormones are found lacking in depressed individuals. It was also found that depressed people smoked more often and were more likely to be chain smokers because of nicotine’s effect on their moods.
- Reducing body weight:
Nicotine is also known to reduce body weight in people. Smokers tend to be usually of lesser body weight than nonsmokers and there have also been studies that show that nicotine can help the body lose weight.
So now that we have seen some of the positive effects of nicotine, let us talk about its other side.
Negative effects of nicotine:
- Its addicting:
Nicotine is very addicting and even though its addictiveness is similar to that of coffee. Being addictive makes it very dangerous as over consumption can lead to a number of different complications. It is known to cause an irritation and burning sensation in the mouth and throat, nausea and a number of other things. Since the most common form of taking in nicotine is the cigarettes, people who are addicted to nicotine mainly smoke cigarettes to get their dose of nicotine.
- Escalates heart and respiratory problems:
Nicotine binds itself to an area of the brain called the adrenal medulla, this is turn causes increased blood pressure, respiration and heart rate. This is problematic if you already have higher blood pressure or other respiratory problems or heart problems.
- Sleep disorders:
Nicotine is known to mess with sleep if taken during the later hours of the day. Since nicotine stimulates the brain it is known to keep you awake and mess with your sleep cycles.
- Makes you lose your appetite:
Smokers are known to have a lower body weight because Nicotine increases ones metabolism. Though this may be beneficial for losing weight it can also be counter-intuitive. Nicotine also has a depressant effect on one’s appetite, this coupled with the increased metabolism means you burn more calories and you’re not taking more calories to replace the ones you just burned.
- Its association with cigarettes:
The most common way one gets nicotine is through cigarettes and this is the major issue with nicotine. Extracted nicotine that is available in forms like chewing gum, skin patches, nasal sprays and as liquids for electronic cigarettes are all more expensive than normal cigarettes. It’s cheaper to just buy cigarettes and smoke them for the nicotine intake that one craves. Nicotine being a rather hard substance to quit doesn’t help with this cause too. This direct association of nicotine with cigarettes makes it hard to suggest.