Nicotine refers to a chemical that has nitrogen, and it is made by numerous kinds of plants such as tobacco. It can also be synthetically produced. It is a stimulant made from the plants of the nightshade family. The tobacco plant mostly provides nicotine. The substance is also found in small quantities in potato, eggplant, coca plants, and tomato. Nicotine is the most addictive substance in all tobacco products.
Nevertheless, it is the commonly abused drug in society. The plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries in America due to its nicotine content. People view nicotine in different perspectives because some claim that it is medicine while others consider it as toxic substance harmful to human health. The paper seeks to explore the history, facts, effects, addiction, uses and side effects of nicotine.
Foremost, nicotine was extracted from the tobacco plant in 1828 by German chemists who thought it was a poisonous substance (Goniewicz, Maciej, Hajek, and McRobbie, 504). The plant that produces nicotine is known as Nicotiana tabacum. The plant is named after the French ambassador in Portugal by the name Jean Nicot de Villemain. The ambassador sent the plant’s seeds to Paris where the French king promoted their medicinal purpose. Smoking of the tobacco plants which produced nicotine was believed to protect and cure illness, for instance, the plague. In 1559 and late 17th century, tobacco plant was introduced to Europe where it was used as an insecticide as well as for smoking by human beings. In our contemporary society, nicotine is widely used as drugs like for instance, in some states the consumption age of the product ranges between 16-21 years (Levy, 11). The consumption age of nicotine is 16 years in the United Kingdom while other European states are 18 years.
Research shows that nicotine has several facts. Arguably, chewing tobacco products normally releases more nicotine into the human body than when it is smoked. This makes nicotine addicts prefer chewing to smoking. It is more difficult to stop using nicotine than heroin due to its addictive nature. Nicotine negatively affects hormones, the heart as well as the gastrointestinal system. It is believed that nicotine improves memory and concentration of an individual. Nicotine is deadly and addictive hence very difficult for smokers to quit. Lastly, statistics show that there are more than one billion smokers across the world.
Nicotine has numerous effects on the human body. It is a stimulant as well as a sedative. When the human body is exposed to nicotine, his or her adrenal glands are stimulated to release adrenaline. The adrenaline stimulates the body hence causing it to release glucose as well as increased heart rate and blood pressure (Shahab, 396). Further, it nicotine causes the pancreas to release less insulin which insignificantly increases blood sugar. It also provokes the release of dopamine in the pleasure and motivation parts of the brain which makes the drug user feel a pleasurable sensation. Nicotine users require higher doses as time progresses for them to enjoy the same experience. Dopamine is a chemical of the brain that affects the movements and emotions of an individual, and therefore nicotine users require high amounts to stimulate its release. Nicotine raises the dopamine levels of the brain which in turn improves the pleasurable sensation of an individual.
It has pharmacologic effects. Exposure of nicotine to human beings increases their rate of heartbeat, stroke volume of the heart and consumption rate of oxygen. Nicotine shows psychodynamic effects. For example, a nicotine user or a cigarette smoker feels relaxed, euphoria and increased alertness. Research has it that nicotine improves memory and concentration. This is brought by increased acetylcholine and norepinephrine. Finally, nicotine reduces the anxiety of a person since it increases the level of beta-endorphin which is responsible for anxiety reduction.
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical. Smokers normally use often since they are nicotine addicts. Tobacco smokers strive to stop using tobacco, but they find it difficult due to the nicotine substance because of its addictive nature. Nicotine increases the dopamine levels of the brain which reinforces the smoking behavior. Prolonged use of tobacco changes the brain due to the exposure of the nicotine to the neurotransmitter dopamine which creates the addiction behavior. Nicotine has the pharmacokinetic properties which result in its addictiveness. When an individual smokes a cigarette, the smoke enters in his or her lungs from where nicotine is quickly absorbed into the blood and transported to the brain. When a person regularly smokes nicotine and rapidly then stops, he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, anxiety, moodiness, irritability, a sense of emptiness, depression and low concentration and memory. The American Heart Association opines that nicotine taken from tobacco smoking is the most difficult substance to stop. Therefore, reducing the quantities of nicotine in cigarette reduces the addictiveness levels.
Nicotine has a wide range of side effects on the human body. For instance, nicotine affects how an individual sleeps. It reduces the amount of rapid eye movement which negatively affects the health of a person. A person should have enough time to sleep to show good health. Acute nicotine consumption reduces time slept by an individual and increased rapid eye movement latency. Nicotine promotes the growth of cancer since it stimulates neovascularization and angiogenesis. It worsens the health of cancer patients since it increases the rate of tumor growth. Nicotine also makes the cancer cells to be more resistance to the administered drugs. The substance negatively affects fetal development and breastfeeding. It causes congenital disabilities in human beings (Goniewicz, 165). The brain development of the fetus is adversely affected by nicotine which may further result in abnormalities.
Nicotine might also affect the circulation of blood in the human body. It leads to an increased blood clotting tendency; atherosclerosis as well as enlargement of the aorta. However, the brain of an individual could be affected in several ways. He or she might experience possible blood restriction; weird dreams and nightmares; lightheadedness and dizziness. It causes respiratory problems. The exposure of lungs to nicotine reduces the ability of oxygen purification since their elasticity significantly decreased. Nicotine results in various respiratory disorders hence complicating the respiratory system. The renal system might also be affected by nicotine. Cigarette smokers are at high risks of acute kidney failure since smoking of cigarette increases excretion of albumin in urine thus decreasing the rate of filtration in the glomerular. Nicotine reduces the rate of fertilization since the spermatogenesis process is disrupted. It also lowers the levels of testosterone. Nicotine might also have effects on the gastrointestinal system whereby an individual experiences vomiting and nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, heartburn, and xerostomia or rather a dry mouth.
Nicotine can be used in various ways despite its addictive nature. It can be used to treat people addicted to smoking tobacco. Most smokers find it difficult to quit smoking due to nicotine addictiveness. The same nicotine can be used to administered in controlled levels to the addicts who after sometime quit the smoking behavior. Since the 1690s, nicotine has been used as a pesticide to eradicate pests in farms (Brandon, 519). It is also used to enhance performance. Products that contain nicotine are regularly used to boost performance like for instance, improving concentration and memory. Finally, it is consumed as a recreational drug among individuals in society. It is prevalently used among the youth since it’s addictive and hard to quit. Most people who use drugs for recreational purposes use nicotine for its pleasurable sensation and mood-altering effects.
Among tobacco users worldwide, nicotine is the fundamental cause of addiction. As depicted in the research, it adversely affects various human body organs such as heart, kidney lungs, and brain. It has a wide biological effect on all the body system ranging from the respiratory system to the renal system. Research shows that nicotine is carcinogenic since it makes cancer cells to be drug resistance as well as stimulating neovascularization and angiogenesis. Nicotine replacement therapy is proper management of the symptoms depicted by individuals who used to be drug addicts. From the study, there is no reason to support the consumption of nicotinic substances since they have no health value. It has numerous side effects that outshine the few benefits. The sales of nicotine should be highly regulated to reduce its harmful effects and addictiveness among individuals. World health organization (WHO) should enact strict measures on the quantity of nicotine in drugs to reduce the addictive effects. The rules would ensure improved health of the nicotine users.
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