WARNING:

Vaping products contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical.
- Health Canada

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Les produits de vapotage contiennent de la nicotine.
La nicotine crée une forte dépendance. - Santé Canada

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Nicotine

February 23, 2021

Nicotine

Nicotine has always been associated with smoking, much like caffeine with coffee and is an addictive chemical just the same. However, Nicotine is just one of among 5,000 other chemicals released from cigarettes when they are combusted, and is not the leading cause of harm from smoking as previously thought. It is the tar and other toxic chemicals including heavy metals which seem to be doing the most damage to one's health according to the latest data.

Nicotine, like caffeine, is a natural defense chemical produced by plants to protect them from being consumed by animals, bugs, or even fungus. Most think of Tobacco plants when it comes to nicotine, but nicotine is also found in plants belonging to the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family.

Nicotine can be found in Tomatoes and Potatoes, although at very low levels. Tomatoes can have a Nicotine content of 7ng per gram, while Potatoes can have a nicotine content of 15ng per gram. The concentration of Nicotine will lower as they become ripe, but have been found to contain a Nicotine content of up to 50ng per gram when still green and sprouting. Pureed Tomatoes and pureed Potatoes however, have been found to contain a Nicotine content of up to 50ng per gram. Among the Nightshade family, Eggplant has the second highest (behind Tobacco) Nicotine content level at 100ng per gram. It may seem like a lot but it is only 0.0001mg of Nicotine and it would take 10kg of Eggplant to get 1mg of Nicotine, the equivalent one gets from smoking a traditional light cigarette. Cigarettes can contain 5-25mg of Nicotine, but usually only 1-2mg is actually absorbed into the system.

Although not entirely related, Potatoes also contain a Nicotine Alkaloid called Solanine, and can be found in highly concentrated levels on its skin. Most commercial potatoes have a Solanine content of less than 0.2 mg per gram. However, potatoes that have been exposed to light and have started to turn green can show higher levels. It can also be found in common peppers, having a Solanine content of 0.07mg - 0.09mg per gram. High levels of Solanine can be fatal, posing substantial health risks. Toxic symptoms from Solanine become apparent at doses of 2-5mg per kg of body weight, with lethal doses at 3-6mg per kg of body weight.

Outside of the Nightshade family, Nicotine can be found in Cauliflower at a Nicotine content of 16.8ng per gram. Additionally, it has been found that Black Tea and Green Tea - whether regular or decaffeinated - contain Nicotine. Black Tea contains nicotine at around 100ng per gram, while some instant teas have shown Nicotine content levels around 285ng per gram.

Nicotine in cigarettes can be extremely addictive due to the highly efficient nicotine delivery system by combusting tobacco. Smoking a tobacco cigarette is one of the best ways of getting nicotine to the brain - it's faster even than intravenous injection. It has been argued that the addition of Ammonia in cigarettes increases Nicotine absorption in the body considerably.
Nicotine causes the brain to release Dopamine and Serotonin to receptors in the prefrontal cortex - the region of the brain that controls motivation and emotions - similar to Cocaine and Heroin. Some users of Nicotine, either over time or though large doses, may develop more "Nicotine Receptors" to handle the dose of Nicotine they are used to receiving. As the number of these receptors increases, the effect will lessen, and more Nicotine will be required to achieve the same effect. Not everyone will develop more receptors, so some may not experience the need to increase their Nicotine intake, leading to less addiction for some. Younger developing brains are more at risk, as the prefrontal cortex isn't fully developed until around age 25, which could lead to life-time addiction. 

Nicotine has always been viewed negatively and has been guilty by association because of its link with cigarettes, but now Nicotine can be extracted and consumed without cigarettes. Nicotine alone may not be as detrimental to one's health as once thought, now, the concept of Nicotine protecting the brain as it ages is being studied, and it's thought that Nicotine could hinder the development of Parkinson's and/or Alzheimer's disease. While there is no definitive answer, some studies have already shown links between smoking and dementia. It's widely known that smoking increases the risk of vascular issues and strokes, but some senior smokers and ex-smokers studied - who had survived through said issues - were found to be at little to no risk for dementia.

Nicotine is by no means a "Super Drug". While it can be calming for some, it can make others additionally anxious. Along with raising blood pressure and the heart rate, Nicotine can also cause nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting when not used properly or through too much intake. Nicotine can help with heightened moods, better memory, and increased alertness but it can also suppress appetites and should not be used by pregnant women or anyone under 25.

Choosing a nicotine strength for Vaping can be difficult and there could be many factors involved. Those who are new to vaping will initially find Vaping to be a different and even rough sensation, especially while continuing to smoke. The more Nicotine there is in the E-Liquid, the rougher the sensation will be. As time passes, especially after quitting smoking, the sensation lessens and becomes more enjoyable.

Some will find the maximum strength that can be tolerated, and use it as needed, usually using smaller lower-powered devices (18mg/mL @ 10 watts). Others will find a strength at which there is minimal throat irritation and vape more freely, usually using higher-powered sub-ohm devices (3mg/mL @ 60 watts). This by no means covers every Vapers needs, as some will even use both types on a daily basis for different situations. Some use sub-ohm devices with higher Nicotine strengths (8mg/mL @ 50 watts), or even lower-powered devices with lower Nicotine strengths (3mg/mL @ 15 watts).

Heavy smokers generally see greater success rates when starting with low to moderate powered devices with a moderate to high Nicotine strength E-Liquid, but sometimes the extra kick of a higher-powered device can outweigh the heavier Nicotine dose. Lighter and casual smokers are usually split between lower-powered and higher-powered devices, but generally use a much lower Nicotine strength E-liquid. This is because the sensation received from smoking can usually still be achieved using lower strengths, particularly when lowering the Nicotine strength over time as the bodies need for Nicotine dissipates.

Ultimately, Nicotine is an addictive chemical, more so when used and delivered through the harmful act of combusting tobacco. Vaping is not 100% free of harm either, but does eliminate quite a few of the thousands of chemicals found in cigarette smoke but also can be potentially dangerous if abused. Nicotine should not be taken in substantial doses.
Signs of Nicotine Poisoning include: feeling nauseous, stomach ache, headache, dizziness, anxiety, confusion, sweating, rapid breathing and increased heart rate.
If any of these symptoms are present while Vaping, the Nicotine strength should be lowered or the time between use should be extended.
If these signs are ignored; weakness, fatigue, pale skin, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, slow heart rate or shallow breathing may occur and in extreme cases seizures, coma, breathing difficulties or respiratory failure.

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