Nicotine, a chemical most commonly within the plants of the Solanaceae family, can be an alkaloid and is found accumulated in the leaves of the plants, although biosynthesis of this chemical occurs in the roots of the plants. Nicotine is among the major components of addictive plants like tobacco (0.6%-3.0%) and ‘s the reason behind their addiction in humans because of its psychoactive nature.
The follow are 10 interesting facts about nicotine.
The name nicotine comes from the scientific name of the tobacco plant Nicotiana tabacum. The scientific name of the tobacco plant is itself named the French ambassador to Portugal Jean Nicot de Villemain. Nikotiinipussit Villeman is credited for sending tobacco seeds and plant saplings to Paris in 1560 for its used in medicinal purposes.
Nicotine was first extracted from the tobacco plant by German physician Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Posselt and chemist Karl Ludwig Reimann in 1828. Following its discovery Posselt and Reimann labelled it as a poison. Actually nicotine can be an antiherbivore chemical, which in turn causes addiction when consumed in smaller amounts (1mg or less) and death if taken in high amounts (30mg-60mg).
Nicotine can be an alkaloid with the chemical formula C10H14N2. Its IUPAC name is 3[2,5-1-methylpyrrolidin-2-yl]pyridine. It includes a molecular mass of 162.12g/mol. Nicotine is really a hygroscopic liquid which is miscible with water as a nitrogenous base. Its density is 1.01g/cm3, melting point -79oC and boiling point 247oC. The nicotine molecule has a half life of 2 hours and its own metabolism is hepatic. Nicotine can be optically active and contains two enantiomeric forms.
4. Nicotine as an insecticide
As already said nicotine is an antiherbivore drug which if taken in huge amounts is fatal alive forms. That is why nicotine laden tobacco has been used as an insecticide even prior to the World War II. But following the WWII its usage drastically lowered because of the availability of cheap synthetic insecticides which are more readily available than tobacco and less harmful to mammals. But in the recent times the hype surrounding organic farming has again increased the interest of the farmers in the usage of tobacco as a pesticide as an alternate to chemical pesticides.
5. Nicotine addiction
Our central nervous system has certain nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Nicotine binds to many of these and escalates the quantity of several neurotransmitters. Among these neurotransmitters dopamine is one such neurotransmitter that is significantly increased during nicotine use and is in charge of the sense of euphoria and relaxation caused by the utilization of tobacco (nicotine) products.
6. Psychoactive effects of nicotine
Nicotine is a psychoactive substance since it is mood altering. It causes both euphoria and relaxation. In your body nicotine is metabolised in the liver. First after its metabolism nicotine results in the release of glucose from the liver and epinephrine from the adrenal medulla. This sudden release of glucose and epinephrine causes euphoria after the intake of nicotine. Following the initial euphoria nicotine leads to relaxation, increased alertness and sharpness by working on different neurotransmitters of the body. Nicotine also has pain relieving properties.
7. Side effects of nicotine intake
Tough it seems like nicotine is a wonderful substance to increase one’s sharpness, induce calmness and elevate one’s mood there are more negative aspects of nicotine intake than positive. Among these the most common unwanted effects of nicotine intake are an elevated risk of hypertension and heart attacks. It is sad that every cigarette a man smokes reduces his life span by 14 years. Moreover since nicotine has been found to affect the working of Estrogen on hippocampus, hence in the end nicotine users are inclined to amnesia and other related diseases.
Nicotine is known as to become more toxic than most common drugs like heroin and cocaine. More harm is done by nicotine to the body because it is readily absorbed by the bloodstream and reaches the brain through the lungs within 7 seconds of its intake either orally or as nicotine patches.
9. Use of nicotine in medical science
Though nicotine is not a doctor’s companion, it is yet not his worst foe. Nicotine known because of its pain relieving properties is being researched upon to be used as a potential pain killer minus its harmful effects. Nicotine has also been found to lessen preeclampsia, allergic asthma; among others by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.
10. Nicotine in literature
Nicotine has been personified in popular literature as Nick O’ Teen, a humanoid villainous character in Superman comics that was created as a part of anti-nicotine drive to educate children about the ill-effects of nicotine intake in virtually any form.
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