Tobacco and Nicotine
by Daphnee Cardella
Tobacco is an agricultural crop of dried brown cut up leaves. It contains the stimulating chemical "nicotine". The nicotine in it makes tobacco a stimulant. Some slang terms are smoke, chew, dip, and fags. You can smoke tobacco from a cigarette or cigar, or you can chew or dip it so that the nicotine is absorbed into the gums.
Indians used tobacco to alleviate toothaches, soothe skin rashes, and diminish ADHD, ADD, Nicotine stimulates the pleasure center of the brain: the Nucleus Accumbens in the Limbic System. Nicotine is shaped like the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It fits into acetylcholine receptors that relate to muscle movement, learning, and memory. From there, it raises dopamine levels, giving off feelings of pleasure and reward.
Tobacco is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Some withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, hunger, depression, headaches, and nausea. Nicotine comes with a strong physical and psychological dependence.
Some short term effects are an increase in blood pressure and heart beat, and an imbalance of oxygen in blood stream. There is an increase in adrenaline, and a slight increases in basal metabolic rate.
Some long term effects include chronic lung disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer of the lungs, larynx, esophagus, mouth, and bladder. Birth defects can occur if the mother uses tobacco while pregnant.
Myth vs. Truth
Myth- Quitting cold turkey is the only effective way to quit smoking.
Truth- Nicotine gum and patches can help you quit, as well as prescriptions such as Chantix.